Monday 8 March 2021

The Sarti Busts at Wimpole Hall (Part 3) Dryden

Post Under Construction.

The Pier Angelo Sarti Plaster Busts at Wimpole Hall, Cambridge.

National Trust.

c.1820 - 40.

(Part 3).

John Dryden (1632 - 1700).

After the bust by Peter Scheemakers on the monument to Dryden in Westminster Abbey.

This bust is based on a version of the Scheemakers bust in Westminster Abbey made and  cast by John Cheere.

Height 71.1 cms.


A set of 12 Plaster busts by Robert Shout.

Sold by Christie's South Ken, London,

Provrenance, Fasque, The Scottish seat of the Gladstones, 

Lot 161, 7 May 2008.

This set of busts, if the catalogue is correct gives us a clear indication of the busts cast and sold by the Shouts and how their socles (at least in this set appeared).

This suggests to me that Sarti obtained the mould for his busts from Shout

 John Milton, William Pitt, Charles James Fox, William Shakespeare, Alexander Pope, John Dryden, Alfred the Great, Edmund Burke, Sir Isaac Newton, John Locke, Samuel Johnson, and Voltaire; each on circular socle topped by a name tablet; variously marked 'made by R. Shout/Holborn' and variously dated '1800?' and '1820?'

The highest 24 in. (61 cm.)

Recorded in Holden's London Directory (1806, 1807) as 'statuaries, masons and plaster figure makers' the firm of Benjamin Shout, and his son Robert (fl. 1778-1823) operated from a studio and spacious showrooms at 18 High Holborn. 

A bill-head dated 1806 lists their production to include 'several hundreds of figures from the Antique, and likenesses of distinguished personages'.

 See T. Clifford, 'The plaster shops of the rococo and neo-classical era in Britain', Journal of the History of Collections, 1992, vol. IV, no. 1, pp. 63-64.


Probably purchased for Seaforth House by Sir John Gladstone as part of his  acquisition of objet d'art around the time he was making extensive alterations to the Library in 1817.


Below, Lot 162 at the same sale.

Virgil and Homer.

Note the eared supports on the socles.

used by Cavaceppi and popularised by Joseph Nollekens.



Engraved Portrait of Dryden by George Vertue after Godfrey Kneller 1730.

Image courtesy British Museum.



Faber after Kneller.

British Museum.



Godfrey Kneller. 




Peter Scheemakers. 

Marble bust

c. 1736..

Hagley Hall 

Half life size approx.

One of a set of four Dryden, Spenser, Milton and Shakespeare

Photograph by the author.

The 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 subsequently 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 had commissioned two sets of marble 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 William Kent's magnificent saloon in the Rotunda in the garden, built in 1735  -  (adorned with paintings and sculpture - Grub Street Journal, 2 September 1735)

 Prince Frederick, William Kent and the Garden Building at Carlton House have already been touched on in my blog entry of 12 August 2015, see -


A voucher in the Royal Household accounts, dated 8th November 1735, details 'for four small marble Busto's delivered to Mr Pope at £10-10 each 42-0-0' The bill was examined by William Kent on 22 November 1735 and paid without deduction. A receipt in the sculptors hand was added one week later (Duchy of Cornwall, Household Accounts of Frederick Prince of Wales, Vouchers October 1736 - June 1737, vol. VI, part 1, pp 307-08

 Ingrid Roscoe (Walpole Society Journal) suggest that the gift to Pope was probably prompted by George Lyttleton, who was the secretary to Prince Frederick, an active member of the Whig opposition, and who fostered the friendship of Pope and Prince Frederick in the hope that Pope might have a democratising influence on the Prince.

The busts prompted a letter to Dean Swift dated 17 May 1739 9 'the Pr. shews me a distinction beyond any Merit or Pretence on my part & I have received a Present from him of some marble heads of Poets for my libraryand some Urnes for my garden' - (Correspondence of Alexander Pope ed. Sherwin 1956).

 Ingrid Roscoe says - that the busts are ' weakly characterised frontal portraits' which I think is being rather unkind to them. I suspect that she hadn't inspected them closely - compared with the marble portrait of Shakespeare in the Royal collection attributed to John Cheere they exhibit a much higher degree of subtlety.

Much of this information has been culled from Peter Scheemakers by Ingrid Roscoe, Walpole Society Journal, vol 61, 1999.


I am very grateful to Viscount Cobham for allowing me the opportunity to visit Hagley and to take these photographs. I would also like to thank to Joyce Purnell of Hagley Hall who facilitated the visit for me, showed me around and made my visit so enjoyable.

 Please forgive the quality of these photographs - I was very much restricted by the height of the bookcases, the availability of light and the lens on my camera. It is my intention to return to Hagley some time shortly, when the busts have been taken down and to take more photographs. In the short term these images will have to do.

see my post -

The perhaps, original terracotta maquette bust of Milton from this set recently appeared in auction. 

This little bust is only half the size of the Hagley bust at 24.1 cms tall. see my post -

This excellent little bust would be much improved with a socle more in keeping with its period.


The Sarti plaster Bust of John Dryden.

Wimpole Hall.

From Art UK sculpture database.

Indistinct inscription - P. Sarti, Dean St, Soho.


John Dryden 

Plaster Bust.

John Cheere (1709 - 87).

Wren Library, Trinity College, Cambridge.

The Sarti bust is very obviously derived from the Cheere bust (below). 

The Cheere bust was reproduced by Parker of the Strand .

Later by Shout of Holborn, and then by Sarti.

Photographs above taken by the Author.
with grateful thanks to the staff at the Wren Library

1747 /48 John Cheere supplied busts of Dryden and Dryden and statuettes of Hercules, Milton and Dryden, a bust of a Virgin and a statue of Shakespeare after the original were supplied to Alscot Park (West Papers Alscot Park, Box 42).

Info above from Biographical Dictionary of Sculptors..... pub. Yale 2009.


John Dryden.

Cheere type Plaster Bust.

Stourhead, Wiltshire.

National Trust.

Height 580 mm. Approximately three quarters life size and probably supplied with the Roubiliac Type bust of Pope which has the same socle (photo below).

Photographs taken by the author.


John Dryden

A Sarti Type Plaster bust.

Height -  710 x 400 mm.

Canons Ashby.

National Trust.

Very poor photographs from the Nat. Trust Collections website.

Why are these images so bad and why do the Nat. Trust not allow right clicking and saving their very poor snaps - shame on them!


John Dryden.

John Cheere.

The Kirkleatham Plaster bust.

supplied in 1848

One of a series of nineteen plaster busts and statuettes, featuring artists, philosophers and writers supplied by John Cheere to Kirkleatham Hall in 1748.

Height 43 mm. Approximately half life size.

York Museum Trust.
Images from Art UK


The source for the Cheere / Sarti busts.

John Dryden.

Peter Scheemakers.

The Marble bust on the Dryden Monument.

Westminster Abbey.

The bust was added in 1731.

Peter Scheemakers

Images above from:

Westminster Abbey do not allow photography.

(update - photography is now allowed)

The Latin inscription can be translated:


J DRYDEN Born 1632 Died May 1 1700

and on the base:


John Sheffield Duke of Buckingham erected this 1720

The original monument by JAMES GIBBS was unveiled on 23rd January 1721 and consisted of a marble arch and surround. The first bust was replaced by the present one in 1731, given by the Duchess of Buckingham. Buckingham is alleged to have erected the monument after a hint from Alexander Pope in his intended epitaph to Nicholas Rowe. 

The epitaph intended for Dryden's bust was:


"This Sheffield raised, the sacred dust below was Dryden once: the rest who does not know?"

The surround to the monument was taken down in 1848.

Dryden Monument. 

Westminster Abbey.

This engraving shows the original bust of Dryden with Laurel Crown which was replaced in 1730 with the Scheemakers bust.

Sample Image from


The Scheemakers Bust of John Dryden.

Image courtesy Wellcome Collection.


Wooden? bust of John Dryden.

 Church of St Mary the Virgin, Titchmarsh Northants.

This appears to be a version of the original bust on the monument in Westminster abbey
with the laurel leaf crown which was replaced by the Scheemaker bust in 1730.

The second tablet, in the north nave chapel, was painted in 1722 in memory of her cousin John Dryden and his parents Erasmus Dryden and Mary Pickering. John Dryden died on May 12, 1700, and was initially buried in St Anne’s cemetery in Soho, before being exhumed and reburied in Westminster Abbey ten days later in Poet’s Corner. He is commemorated there by a pedestal monument with a bust atop, as befits the English poet, literary critic, translator, and playwright who was made Poet Laureate in 1668 and dominated the literary life of Restoration England to such a point that the period came to be known in literary circles as the Age of Dryden. His memorial panel at Titchmarsh is a much simpler composition designed for contemplation by his family; it comprises a painted inscription in a carved wooden frame surmounted by a carved wooden bust of the poet, with the words ‘The Poet’ on its base.


Extracts from the inscription read: ‘We boast that he was bred & had his first learning here [i.e. at the Pickering seat at Titchmarsh] where he often made us happie by his kind visits & most delightfull conversation … He recieued the notice of his approaching dissolution with sweet submission and entire resignation to the divine will. And he took so tender and obliging a farewell of his friends as none but he him self could have expressed (of which sorrowful number I was one) … The 80 year of my age. Eliza. Creed. 1722’. More of Mrs Creed’s monuments may be found in the church of All Saints Barnwell, including the painted decoration on the monument to her daughter Dorothy Creed (d.1714). It comprises a black arch-head tablet on west wall with ashlar surround, keyblock and moulded cornice surmounted by urn with torchere.

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