Thursday 3 August 2017

Soane Museum 1 - Bust of Ben Jonson - Anonymous

Bust of Ben Jonson (1572 - 1637).
Size not given.
Early 19th century
Soane Museum.
Lincoln's Inn Fields.

some notes -

Perhaps after an original by Michael Rysbrack now disappeared.
seen by George Vertue in the Rysbrack workshop  (Walpole Soc. Journal XXII Vertue III.)

This bust is directly related to the Wedgwood Bust (see V and A version below)

Photos above : © Sir John Soane’s Museum, London

As far as I can tell this would seem to be a unique bust.

The support of the pile of books is also only seen on this bust and the busts of Camden and Shakespeare - all three at the Soane Museum.
(see my next two posts).

The first mention of this particular bust, that I can find is in Handbook to the Public Galleries of Art in or near London ......  Mrs Anna Jameson. 1842.

A fuller description appears in A General Description of Sir John Soan's Museum... 1844.(below).


Ben Jonson.
Wedgwood Black Basalt Bust 
Marked Wedgwood with inverted S
Height 47cms
c. 1785


Bust of Ben Jonson (or is it Edmund Spenser?)
From a set of four busts by Robert Shout.
Marked on the back Made and sold by R Shout Holborn
Sudbury House Derbyshire
On loan from Hughenden House, Bucks.
National Trust.
Photograph - National Trust.

For more on the Sudbury busts see -


Ben Jonson
Monument Westminster Abbey.

Design for the Monument to Ben Jonson
James Gibbs 1723
Ashmolean Museum


Ben Jonson
Abraham van Blyenburch (d.1624)
Oil on Canvas
47 x 41.8 cms
National Portrait Gallery

One of several versions this one believed to be the original. One at Welbeck Abbey, another at Knole.

Ben Jonson
William Marshall
Engraved Frontispiece 1640.

Image from

Ben Jonson by Robert Vaughan
Execrations of Vulcan and Epigrammes.
Huntington Library


Ben Jonson by William Elder
Engraved Frontispiece to the works of Ben Jonson, 1692.


Ben Jonson
A 18th Century Late Mezzotint
after Blyenberch
c.1774 - 85
National Portrait Gallery.


Poets and Philosophers of England
John Simon
353 x 252 mm plate size
Mid 18th Century.


Ben Jonson
Engraving by George Vertue
after Gerard Honthorst

Fitzwilliam Museum Cambridge.

Image result for bust "Ben Jonson"

The Wedgwood bust described as Ben Jonson 

see Wedgwood bust of Spenser below.

This image is lifted from the Getty Museum website
No date or size given.

A bill from Hoskins and Grant sent in January 1775 includes a bust of Ben Jonson, Swift, Milton Chaucer, Spenser
The original sculptor of this bust, so far remains obscure but is possibly from the Cheere workshop.

They say prepared and finished by the Wedgwood sculptor Keeling.

For a very useful overview of the Wedgwood Manufactory see -

 Wedgwood bust .

38.3 cms.

Photograph courtesy Sotheby's
23 October 2019

This bust is loosly related to the bust of Spenser by Scheemakers at Hagley Hall. (see below)

In 1769 the sculptor P. Theodore Park sent a bill to Wedgwood for modeling several statues including Spenser. A second example which had been in the collection of Frederick Rathbone is illustrated in Captain M. H. Grant, The Makers of Black Basalts, London, 1967, pl. XLIV, no. 1.

This suggests that a cast of Spenser after Scheemakers was available in the mid 18th century perhaps adapted by John Cheere.

Half  Life Size Marble bust of Edmund Spenser
Pieter Scheemakers

in the Library at Hagley Hall, Worcestershire.

Photograph by the author

The four busts of Shakespeare, Spenser, Dryden and Milton by Peter Scheemakers in the broken pediments of the bookcases in the Library at Hagley Hall were given to Alexander Pope by Frederick, Prince of Wales; they were bequeathed by Pope, who died in 1743 to Lord Lyttelton. 

They were in the Library in the new house at Hagley in 1747/48.

 Some time after buying Carlton House in 1732, Prince Frederick commissioned two sets of library busts from Peter Scheemakers, one set for himself - which seems to have disappeared and the second set as a gift to Alexander Pope.

 A bill for £107 4s was examined by William Kent as overseer and paid 22 November 1735, included the set of busts charged at £10 each (Duchy of Cornwall Household Accounts) it is unclear whether they were for the library at Carlton House or for Kents magnificent saloon in the Rotunda in the garden, built in 1735  -  (adorned with paintings and sculpture - see Grub Street Journal 2 September 1735)

 Prince Frederick, William Kent and the Garden Building at Carlton House has already touched on in my blog entry 12 August 2015,


I am very much indebted here to this website - 3 pages.
An Essay by Karen Hearn

This website is extremely good for an in depth look at  and his portraits.

My post here is primarily concerned with the visual representations of Jonson

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