Monday 14 November 2016

The Sydney Plaster bust of Shakespeare after Roubiliac

A Plaster bust of Shakespeare 
after the original Terracotta by Louis Francois Roubiliac 
State Library of New South Wales,
Sydney, Australia.

for my previous posts and in depth  work on the subject of the Roubiliac busts of Shakespeare see

Photographs and the description below from the website of the State Library of New South Wales

The Shakespeare Room is home to a portrait bust of William Shakespeare. Made from plaster with a bronze finish, the bust is a replica of a terracotta original by Huguenot sculptor, Louis Francois Roubiliac (1702-1762) which is housed in the Garrick Club in London.
The State Library bust was originally donated to the Australian Museum by Sir Richard Owen in 1857, it was then transferred to the National Art Gallery of New South Wales in 1912 before finally arriving at the Library in 1955. Another identical terracotta bust is housed in the British Museum with direct provenance to Roubiliac.
The Garrick Club, London believed two replicas of the terracotta bust were produced. One is in the Royal Shakespeare Company Collection in Stratford and the other was presumed lost in the London Crystal Palace fire in 1866. The presence of the State Library’s bust in Australia in 1857 strongly suggests that either a third replica was produced, or that this may be the bust that was believed lost in the Crystal Palace fire.

Image result for Shakespeare Roubiliac Garrick club


William Shakespeare.
A Plaster Bust taken from the Davenant Garrick Bust.
The Royal Shakespeare Company, Stratford on Avon.

The copy which had belonged to Professor Sir Richard Owen (1804 - 1892) - the Assistant Curator of the Royal College of Surgeons' Hunterian Collections from 1827 - he was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society, and appointed Hunterian Professor then Professor of Anatomy at the Royal College of Surgeons, then Fullerian Professor of Comparative Anatomy and Physiology at the Royal Institution.

Photograph and info supplied  by Marcus Risdell curator at the Garrick Club 2015.

 Communication from Marcus Risdell.

'Roubiliac original terracotta bust -  The Garrick Club bust, (rediscovered by William Clift, first curator of the Hunterian Museum) in 1834 (source is Clift's papers held at Royal College of Surgeons) it was found in the garden of No 39 Lincoln's Inn Fields by a water pump in a position I have identified in surveys made by the Royal College of Surgeons to have been right by the main entrance. 

It became known through association of the theatre as the Davenant Bust, but as we now suspect was sited at the theatre by Henry Giffard who attempted the last theatrical season there in 1742-43 (Incidentally Giffard also used a full size Scheemakers statue as a pantomime stage prop at his previous theatre Goodman's Fields where he first put on Garrick. This I covered in the catalogue: The Face & Figure of Shakespeare at Orleans House Gallery. 

Anyway I digress: the bust passed to Professor Owen who showed it at the Crystal palace, where it came to the attention of the Duke of Devonshire who bought it and gave it to the Garrick Club, who incidentally used to use it as a door stop'. Not before at least two casts were made!


Not an unusual fate for portrait busts - the  16th century Lumley / Pomfret marble bust of Henry VIII suffered similar humiliation whilst it was in the Ashmolean Museum offices, until rescued in the mid 20th century (communication Michael Vickers).

The British Museum Terracotta by Roubiliac Purchased by Matthew Matey at the Posthumous 
Roubiliac Sale in 1762.

The Garrick Club Terracotta of Shakespeare by Roubiliac

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