Tuesday 30 November 2021

18th Century Lead Bust of a Gentleman - Sotheby's 1st Dec 2021

An 18th Century Lead Bust of a Gentleman - 

"In the Dress of a Roman Noble of the Augustan Era"

Offered for sale Sotheby's, London 1st Dec 2021.

Unsold by 14th December 2021.

Here Attributed to Louis Francois Roubiliac.

Probably cast by John Cheere at Hyde Park Corner.

Illustrated for comparison here with some similar busts of the 1720's 30's and 40's, sculpted by Michael Rysbrack, Peter Scheemakers and Thomas Ad(e)y.

Post in preparation.

For some reason many of the anonymous unsigned busts particularly marbles are given to Henry Cheere (older brother of John Cheere ) but a quick analysis of the list of the busts given to Henry Cheere in the Dictionary of  Sculptors reveals that none of the busts in this list can be confirmed as actually by Henry Cheere. 

It has long been my belief that virtually none of the sculpture given to Cheere were sculpted by him but were accomplished by a team within his workshops - that although trained as a sculptor his real gifts were organisational.

If the list of the Freemasons lodge members of 1730 is to be believed, then it appears that Roubiliac was in England by 1730, but little if anything of his career is known before 1736.

There is a short poem by Lockman on Roubiliac and his bust of Senesino in the London Daily Post and General Advertiser of 4 June 1736. I believe this is probably the first mention of Roubiliac in the English press.

It has been suggested but with little or no concrete evidence that Roubiliac worked with Henry Cheere prior to taking his workshop in St Martins Lane.

I will make a tentative suggestion that this might be a bust of Henry St John, 1st Viscount Bolingbroke (16 September 1678 – 12 December 1751) after an original by Roubiliac.

Dangerous territory I know!!

Plaster Busts of Pope and the Bolingbroke were ordered by the Earl of Marchmont from Roubiliac in 1738 / 39.

Both of these busts have disappeared. So far no other version of the bust of Bolingbroke by Roubiliac has appeared.

The early date of 1738 of the Marchmont plaster bust of Pope suggests to me that it is not one based on the terracotta at the Barber Institute and the later Yale marble bust but an earlier version. I have posted previously at some length on the Roubiliac (and Rysbrack) busts of Pope.

This lead bust follows a similar convention to a number of busts particularly those sculpted for the Temple of Friendship at Stowe House, Buckinghamshire.

see - http://bathartandarchitecture.blogspot.com/2019/04/anonymous-bust-at-lady-lever-art.html

Bust of a Gentleman 

Attributed to John Cheere (1709–1787) 

 English, 18th century  

lead, on a marble base


bust: 60cm., 23⅝in. 72cm., 28¼in. overall

Photographs here courtesy Sotheby's website see -


To my eye this is an excellent bust - I particularly like the detailing of the hair and the fringing on the dress.

The Roubiliac relief from the Battersea Church monument compared with the lead bust

Whilst certainly not conclusive an interesting exercise. The details of the ear have similarities.

The Mallams Photographs.

 Mallams, Abingdon Saleroom, Lot 686, 19 July 2021.

Not great but they give a fair indication of the condition of the bust before cleaning.

Stephen Tennant in the garden at Wilsford Manor, Wiltshire.

Photographs courtesy Mallam's Website.

This bust was sold recently through Mallams, Abingdon Saleroom, Lot 686 19 July 2021, when it was suggested that it was described as -

 "John Cheere, bust of Edward Harley, 2nd Earl of Oxford and Earl Mortimer, lead, mounted on a marble plinth, 

50 wide x 23.5 deep x 70cm high overall

Provenance: Formerly the property of the Hon. Stephen Tennant

Purchased from The Heim Gallery, London who had acquired it from Tennant estate


It has been given a gentle clean and has lost its description as Edward Harley - not surprising given its lack of resemblance to known portraits of Harley.



To my eye this is an excellent bust - I particularly like the detailing of the hair and the fringing on the dress which has been incised and punched. 

The suggestion that it was from the workshop of John Cheere seems safe and suggests to me a date of around 1738/40

The style is similar to those busts of the  "Augustan Oligarchy" as described in an excellent article The British Augustan oligarchy in portraiture: Michael Rysbrack and his bust of the Earl of Orkney by David Wilson published The British Art Journal, Vol. 11, No. 2 (2010/11), pp. 43-61 which discusses the subject in some detail referring to the busts of Robert Walpole 1st Earl of Orford by Michael Rysbrack, Charles Spenser Earl of Sunderland by Michael Rysbrack, Daniel Finch 2nd Earl of Nottingham by Michael Rysbrack, Sir Richard Temple Ist Viscount Cobham by Peter Scheemakers, George Hamilton 1st Earl of Orkney by Michael Rysbrack

I have posted at some length on 18th century lead portrait busts eg:

For lead busts of Inigo Jones and Palladio after Rysbrack, Isaac Newton, Seneca, The Duke of Cumberland dated 1746 with a very similar marble socle to the bust illustrated above, and a bust of Alexander Pope 

see - http://bathartandarchitecture.blogspot.com/2014/01/some-more-eighteenth-century-busts.html

For a lead bust of John Locke at the Bodleian Library see

 - http://bathartandarchitecture.blogspot.com/2018/02/a-lead-bust-of-john-locke-in-bodleian.html

For a lead bust of Matthew Prior by John Cheere see -



A bust of  Bolingbroke is reported along with a bust of Alexander Pope in inventory of Lord Marchmonts of c.1738 

Henry St John, 1st Viscount Bolingbroke (16 September 1678 – 12 December 1751).

Detail of the monument by Roubiliac put up in Battersea Church in 1753.



Plaster Relief

Size 6.7 cms max.

Dated 1889

Cast from a medallion dated 1740 in possession of W.G. Patterson 1889.

Image and info from the NPG Scotland.


Henry St John, 1st Viscount Bolingbroke.

(16 September 1678 – 12 December 1751).

Lydirad Tregoze House, Swindon.

Inscribed on the bracket support - aged 59 - 1737.

Michael Rysbrack.

Images here courtesy Art uk website.

Dallaway, in a note to his edition of Walpole’s Anecdotes (1828), mentions that when the furniture of Lydiard House was on a previous occasion dispersed by auction, the bust was hidden by this faithful servant in a vault under the church until it could safely be restored to light. The bust also survived the sale in 1843 as did the plaster busts by Cheere in the hall


Henry St John, 1st Viscount Bolingbroke (16 September 1678 – 12 December 1751).

Michael Rysbrack.

Petworth House.


Note the close cropped hair.

Images courtesy National Trust.

The usual poor quality National Trust images. Why are they so mean spirited??


Marble bust by J. M. Rysbrack all’antica. Petworth, probably given by the sitter to his close friend Sir William Wyndham. 

A replica? is at Lydiard Tregoze House dated 1737 (illus. M. I. Webb, Michael Rysbrack, 1954, p 178), exhibited Michael Rysbrack, Bristol, 1982, no.50. 

A plaster at Cirencester (M. I. Webb, Country Life, CXIX, 1956, pp 1131-32). See G. Vertue, Notebooks, Wal. Soc., XXII, 1934, p 56; J. Kenworthy-Browne in National Trust Studies 1980, p 71.

Info above from NPG website.


Detail of the above.

indistinctly dated 1804/6.

Included here as it shows the relief without the closely cropped hair as in the Rysbrack busts.

Frontispiece from an unknown (as yet) publication.

Measurements:17.78 x 10.79 cm

Image and info from the NPG Scotland.

Whilst I am on the subject thank you very much NPG Scotland for supplying the Hi Res images a lesson that the NPG London could learn from.

If I am looking for an portrait engraving, mettzotint etc this is always my first port of call.


I am including here two hi res images of portraits of Bolingbroke from Wikipedia


It will be interesting to see if they disappear.

For an excellent article on copyright law and galleries see -


Henry St John, 1st Viscount Bolingbroke (16 September 1678 – 12 December 1751).

Jonathan Richardson.


Henry St John, 1st Viscount Bolingbroke (16 September 1678 – 12 December 1751).

Attrib. Charles Jervas.


For my post on the busts from the Temple of Friendship at Stowe see -


Anonymous bust.

Lady Lever Art Gallery.

Suggested as Mr Richard Grenville Temple, later Earl Temple (1711 - 79).

by Peter Scheemakers.


The model for this bust was sold Lot 25 at the Scheemaker sale 6 June 1775, along with the model of the missing bust of Bathurst.


Robert Walpole, 1st Earl of Orford.

by John Michael Rysbrack.

Terracotta bust, 1738.

30 3/8 in. x 21 1/4 in. (770 mm x 540 mm) overall.

Purchased, 1926.

Photograph © National Portrait Gallery, London.

Image and text below courtesy National Portrait Gallery.

They say -

Robert Walpole, 1st Earl of Orford (1676-1745).

Sir Robert Walpole. Whig statesman; born at Houghton, educated at Eton and King's College, Cambridge; MP, 1701-42; secretary at war, 1708-10; treasurer of the navy, 1710-11; expelled after the Whig downfall, 1712, from the House of Commons and committed to the Tower on spurious charges; with the party's return to power, became prime minister and chancellor of the exchequer, 1715-17 and 1721-42; KB,1725, the first commoner so honoured since 1660; KG, 1726; following the death of Queen Caroline, 1737, his policies and person increasingly attacked; in 1739 reluctantly agreed to hostilities with Spain; defeated in the House of Commons, resigned all his employments and created Earl of Orford, 1742; rebuilt Houghton. Married (1) in 1700, Catherine Shorter, daughter of a wealthy timber merchant, and (2) Maria, daughter of Thomas Skerrett, 1738.


2126 By John Michael Rysbrack, 1738.

Terracotta bust, 26 in. (660 mm) high, including base; thick eyebrows, pupils incised, protruding lower lip, double chin, own hair, short, in the Roman manner; tunic, Garter star in folds of drapery held on his right shoulder by a large brooch.


Incised and dated on the back: Mich: Rysbrack / 1738.


A bust by Rysbrack 'modeld from the life . . . a large head, broad face' with Garter and Star was noted by Vertue in 1726 [1] and the arrival of a marble, still in its original place over the chimney piece at Houghton, [2] was reported in the Norfolk Gazette of 19-24 December 1730: 'a few Days since a curious Busto of the Rt Hon. Sir Robert Walpole, done by Mr. Risbach, the famous Sculptor, was sent to Sir Robert's Seat at Houghton . . .'. [3] A retrospective list of ‘Models seen when done [of] many Nobleman Ladies & Learned men & others', recorded by Vertue in 1732, included 'Sr. Robt Walpole—Marble’ [4] and under the heading ‘Memorial 1738/9 of Persons Arts and living Artists' is 'a portrait Bust Model of Sr. Robert Walpole. done by Mr Rysbrake very much like him and approovd of—'. [5]


Since he refers to the Garter and since the marble at Houghton also has it, what Vertue saw in 1726 is presumably the prototype. [6] It might be thought that the use of the word 'Model' in 1738/9 implies a second sitting, but this is not necessarily so, as NPG 2126, dated that year, is identical with the Houghton marble. Indeed, it might even be the clay model of 1726 subsequently fired and dated, or a replica.


‘A Medal of Sr. Rob' Walpole profil . . . by L. Natter', mentioned by Vertue in 1741, derives from the Rysbrack bust; the reverse shows 'the statue of Marc Tullius Cicero—standing in the habit of Senator. or Orator . . .'. [7] Another has ‘Britannia trampling upon Envy'. [8] Rysbrack designed, or possibly made, other medals and medallions of Sir Robert and Lady Walpole, for his sale catalogue, Langford's, 24-25 January 1766, lists under models in terracotta: 'Two [Medals] of the late Right Hon. Sir Robert Walpole, Earl of Orford, and his Lady',lot 14; both are now missing. [9] A grisaille profile ascribed to J. de Wit, perhaps taken from the Rysbrack, was at Sotheby's, 1 November 1961, lot 10.


Condition: a small circular hole (vent?) in the crown of the head; a crack in the back of his left shoulder and firing cracks; some repairs carried out, 1926; con­temporary plaster infilling, the whole painted near terracotta colour as was the sculptor's custom. In a letter to Sir Edward Littleton, 6 May 1758, he explains: ‘Small Cracks unavoidably Caused by the Burning, which Are obliged to be stopped with Plaster of Paris; which the paint Strengthens and Makes the whole of one Colour', . . [the] Gloss . . . will Go off in time'. [10]


Collections: bought, 1926, from H.W. Radford of Hounslow; found by him (and identified by Mrs Esdaile) in the library of Norwood House, Middlesex, which had been empty for thirty years before being pulled down c.1926;earlier history not known.


Possibly Paul Joddrell of c.1740. 

A marble bust attributed to Ady(e). 

Joddrell was Solicitor General to Frederick, Prince of Wales.

Victoria and Albert Museum.

Photograph by the author


The Style of the socle is peculiar to Ady(e).

Another bust that appears to have suffered from overzealous restoration and re polishing.

 Note : V and A say - Acquired by Gerald Kerin, London, a dealer, from Commander Roger Coke, Norfolk. Bayfield Hall.

 It is recorded as the home of Henry Joddrell, the sitter's third son, and it is presumed that the bust remained at Bayfield Hall until its sale to Kerin.

 Purchased by the Museum from Kerin in 1956 for £300, using funds from the bequest of Francis Reubell Bryan.


The Mellerstain Busts.

Hugh Hume Campbell (1708 - 94).

Thomas Adye active 1730 -53

The Bust  at Mellerstain House

Earl of Marchmont.


 Measurements H 80 x W 53 x D 24 cm.

 inscribed on socle: H HUME E : OF MARCHMOUNT.

Images courtesy Art uk website.


George Baillie (1664–1738), of Jerviswood.

Peter Scheemakers II (1691–1781) and Louis François Roubiliac (1695/1702–1762)??



Mellerstain House

Image courtesy art uk website.



George Hamilton Baillie.

Peter Scheemakers II (1691–1781).


Images courtesy Art uk website.



For an interesting article by David Wilson on a bust of Lord Macclesfield see -


Charles Spencer d.1722.

Third Earl of Sunderland.

Michael Rysbrack.

Marble dated 1722 (check this!).

The date makes this one of the earliest busts by Rysbrack after his arrival in England

Blenheim. Oxfordshire

Image lifted from the Georgian Group Journal. 

available online.


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