Wednesday 7 November 2018

Handel in Bronze - by or after Roubiliac

Handel in Bronze - 
by or after Louis Francois Roubiliac.

I have written extensively about the portrait statuary of Handel by Roubiliac but have only touched briefly on the bronzes.
Here is my first attempt to make up for this.

This post was inspired by an e mail from Professor Doctor Hans Joachim Marx of the University of Hamburg regarding the portrait busts and reliefs of Handel by Roubiliac.

For the Roubiliac terracotta relief of Handel at the V & A see my blog post -


Selected Bibliography -

J. M. Coopersmith, 'A List of Portraits, Sculptures, etc., of George Friedrich Händel' in Music & Letters Vol. 13, No. 2 (Apr., 1932), pp. 156-167

Sir John Soane's Museum Handbook, 10th edition, 1920, pp.68-69.

J.V.G. Mallet, 'Some portrait medallions by Roubiliac', Burlington Magazine, CIV, 1962, 

National Portrait Gallery collection catalogue: John Kerslake, Early Georgian Portraits, Her Majesty's Stationery Office, 197.


Thursday 13 May, 1762 The second day of the four day posthumous sale of the contents of the Roubiliac studio at his dwelling house in St Martin's Lane 
By Mr Langford of the Piazza, Covent Garden

The sale catalogue under the heading Sundries in Plaster notes -

Lot 22; Five Medals of Handell, SAir Isaac Newon, Mr Pope, Inigo Jones and a laughing boy

Lot 23; Five Medals of Mr Garrick, Handell, Inigo Jones, Oliver Cromwell, Sir Isaac Newton & a laughing boy.

Lot 24; Four  Medals of Handell, Mr Garrick, Sir Isaac Newton Oliver Cromwell, Inigo Jones and a laughing boy.

Lot 25; Five Medals of Handell, Sir Isaac Neton, Oliver Cromwell, Inigo Jones and a laughing boy.

Lot 27; a mixed lot that mentions a medal of Dr Middleton.

Under the heading Bronzes etc.

Lot 92; A basso relievo of Inigo Jones and Oliver Cromwell.

Lot 93; Three ditto of Mr Handell, Sir Isaac Newton and Mr Pope.

These three were probably the same works re-sold in an early Christie's sale in 1766, when they were described as 'Sir Isaac Newton, Pope and Handel in bronze finely repaired [i.e. finished] by the late ingenious Mr. Roubiliac'. The suggestion here is that it was Roubiliac himself who finished his bronzes.

On the fourth day - under the heading sundries in plaster.

Lot 33; Six medals of Pope, Inigo Jones, Mr Handell, Sir Isaac Newton, Mr Garrick and O.Cromwell a laughing boy and a clay bracket.


George Frederick Handel
Louis Francois Roubiliac

28.6 cms diam.
Purchased in 1961 from London Art Trade.
Peel and Humphris.

Photograph by the Author.

Relief Portrait of Handel
Victoria and Albert Museum.

Photograph taken by the author under very difficult circumstances.
The lighting is very poor and avoiding the reflections of the glass case was almost impossible.

This relief is currently on long term loan to the V & A.

From the collection of Sir Francis Watson former director of the Wallace Collection, and Surveyer of the Queen's Pictures - it is now in the collection of his stepson Cheng Huan, (V&A Museum, Cheng Huan, Loan 3).

For an amusing obituary of Sir Francis see -


The Miniature Bronze Bust of Handel.
28cms (inc. socle)

Lot 163, 14 July 2010.
Sotheby's Works of Art Sale.

So far this appears to be a unique miniature bronze bust by Roubiliac.
It has not been previously published except for Sotheby's sparse catalogue entries

There is little doubt in my mind that this little bronze bust is the creation of Louis Francois Roubiliac and and an important addition to the corpus of his works.

Roubiliac  worked in bronze sporadically specifically three busts of Lord Chesterfield, one of Alexander Pope.

Attributed to the workshop of Louis-François Roubiliac (1695-1772), English, mid-18th century
bronze, on a porphyry socle.

Sold £2,500 (be aware that the value of your investment can go up or down!)

Sotheby's catalogue entry
Mallet (op.cit.) notes three other bronze reliefs of Handel. That Roubiliac produced portrait high reliefs is proven by a signed and dated inscription on a bust of David Garrick, now in the Garrick Club and by the inclusion of three portrait high reliefs of Newton, Handel and Pope in the sale of his studio held 12-14 May 1762. A different version of the portrait of Handel in terracotta, illustrated by Mallet, is in the Victoria and Albert Museum.

Literature -

J.V.G. Mallet, `Some Portrait Medallions by Roubiliac', Burlington Magazine, April 1962, pp.153-158; 

K. A. Esdaile, The Life and Works of Louis François Roubiliac, Oxford, 1928, p.224; 

Rococo, Art and Design in Hogarth's England, exh. cat. Victoria and Albert Museum, London, 1984, S45

Height overall: 28cm. 11in.

Provenance - previously sold - Lot 54, Sothebys 16 April 2002.(see below).


This is the same bust as that above without the added socle.

Lot 54, Sothebys 16 April 2002.

Sold £6572.

My policy is to not normally publish the prices of objects featured in my blogs as the price has no relevance to its history or artistic merit - in this example it amuses me to point out that it is a case of "less is more" given the catalogue entries.


They say - Lead glazed earthenware Staffordshire

Victoria and Albert Museum.


George Frederick Handel.
Pearlware (lead glazed Earthenware)
23.5 cms
Ralph Wood (1748 - 95).
c. 1782 - 95.

The Museum of Fine Arts Houston.


Plaster Relief 
26 x 23 inches. 

The plaster relief of Handel at the Soane Museum, Lincolns Inn Fields, London since before 1837

Although there is no concrete evidence, this has been I believe fairly safely ascribed to Roubiliac.

This fine relief of Handel in contemporary dress appear to be based on the facial features of the portrait bust of Handel by Roubiliac at Gloucester cathedral, although the contemporary dress here is quite different.

For my blog entry see -

For the Soane Museum Collection website entry see -


Conyers Middleton
Louis Francois Roubiliac,
Bronze Relief
Poor photographs taken under difficult circumstances.


Alexander Pope.
Louis Francois Roubiliac.
Bronze Relief
Victoria and Albert Museum.

Poor photograph above taken by the author under very difficult circumstances.

Alexander Pope

Bronze relief attrib. to Roubiliac - 23.75 x 21.25 inches (60.3 x 54 cm).

They suggest c. 1755. 

Yale Centre for British Art.

For the bronze bust of Pope sold by Sotheby's London 6 July 2007 see -

K.Esdaile, The Life and Works of Louis Francois Roubiliac, London, 1928.

J.V.G.Mallet, 'Some Portrait Medallions by Roubiliac', in Burlington Magazine, vol.104, April 1962, pp.153-58.

W.K.Wimsatt, The Portraits of Alexander Pope, New Haven and London, 1965, pp.244.


Alexander Pope

Anonymous Marble Relief.
no size given.

I include this marble relief because I had not been aware of it until recently.

Victoria and Albert Museum.


David Garrick 
Gilded Bronze relief.
Height: 18.5cm
Width: 15.5cm
Depth: 6cm

Inscribed -
DAVID GARRICK. Arm, / L. F.Roubiliac Sct. ad Vivum / 1758 (verso); 

Presented to the Garrick Club, by Peter Norton. Esqr.”, in cream paint on wooden label loosely attached to bottom of frame. Presented to the club by Peter Norton in 1833.

The oval plaque is made of highly polished bronze.

The bust itself is attached to the plaque and is gilded bronze. The gilding, which is matt, may not be original.

Roubiliac was closely involved with Garrick in 1758, in which year he completed the statue of Shakespeare for the Shakespeare temple in Garrick's river-side garden at Hampton (See G0938). 

He also produced a terracotta bust of Garrick, seen in Soldi's portrait of Roubiliac in the Garrick Club (G0727). The Soldi is signed and dated 1757/8, and although the terracotta bust is lost there is a plaster cast of it in the National Portrait Gallery (707a). 

It is similar in many ways to S0015, although the bronze has a much brighter feel to it with the head lifted, the stoop alleviated, and details such as the buttons added. 

The bronze clearly dates slightly later than the terracotta. Roubiliac's posthumous sale, 12-15 May 1762, included a set of plaster medallions depicting Garrick, Pope, Conyers Middleton, Handel, Inigo Jones, Oliver Cromwell, and Isaac Newton. 

In addition, the sale included four plaster medallions in plaster of Garrick and three medallions in wax as well as two terracotta busts, a plaster bust, and a mould for the bust. Roubiliac's marble bust of Garrick was sold at Mrs Garrick's sale, Christie's 23 June 1823. 

Mallet discusses five other bronze busts by Roubiliac similar to S0015. They depict Alexander Pope, Conyers Middleton, and George Frederick Handel (3 versions).

Text and Photograph above, copied from the Garrick Club website see -

Another image of the Garrick Club Bronze relief.

Kindly supplied by Marcus Risdall, Curator of the Garrick Club Collection in 2015.

see my blog entry -


The Bronze Reliefs of Oliver Cromwell

There are at least 4 version of this relief
Currently I am doubtful if any of them are related to Roubiliac.

Oliver Cromwell
after Roubiliac ?
Very fine bronze relief.

122 x 96 mm

Lot 1587 - 15 - 18th September 2015.

This image from the website of Dix Noonan auctioneers


Oliver Cromwell
with the prominent wart on his left (proper) cheek.
after Roubiliac?
Bronze relief.
Height 16 cms.

The quality of this relief is much below that of the other reliefs illustrated here.

John Mallet in the article ''Some Portrait Medallions by Roubiliac'', Burlington Magazine, April 1962, pl.26, illustrates the full face terracotta medallion of Cromwell and also four slightly larger bronze medallions of Pope, Middleton, Handel and Garrick which, although full-face, are of a very similar style to this portrait. Whilst the catalogue entries are brief and sizes never given, Mr.Mallet also refers to another entry in the second day''s sale under the heading ''Bronzes etc.'', where no.92 reads ''A basso relievo of Inigo Jones and Oliver Cromwell.''

Image and text from the website of dealer Philip Mould - Historical Portraits.|-Louis-Francois--Roubiliac,-After-


Another related Bronze relief of Oliver Cromwell.

Height 22 cms.

Sold Lot 875, 21 October, 2015.

Mealy's auctioneers.
Castlecomer, Ireland.


For an interesting posting on Handel see -

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