The William Seward bust of Alexander Pope by Louis Francois Roubiliac, circa 1737/38.
Size 15.75 ins. tall, socle 4.5 ins tall, eyes uncut. Type 1.
See Wimsatt. The Portraits of Alexander Pope, page 265, for an illustration of the 1788 print of this bust, and page 266 for the text and also Wimsatt supplement p.147, and plate 13.
HOMER and POPE.
Proposals for engraving busts of Homer and Pope (?1787)
TITLE: PROPOSALS FOR PUBLISHING BY SUBSCRIPTION, TWO SEVERAL
ENGRAVINGS OF THE BUSTS OF HOMER, AND OF HIS TRANSLATOR
The Drawings are already finished by Mr. BROWN, No. 162, in the Strand. That of HOMER, from the Original Bust, dug up near Baiae in the Year 1780, and now in the possession of Charles Townly, Esq. │
That of ALEXANDER POPE, from the fine Original Bust by Rysbrack, in the possession of William Seward, Esq. │
One of the Engravings, the HOMER, will be executed by F. BARTOLOZZI, ESQ. R.A. The other of
POPE, by Mr. BOVI, Pupil to Bartolozzi.
The Price to Subscribers will be TEN and SIXPENCE.
The Prints to be delivered on or before the 30th of January 1788, and in the order they are
SUBSCRIPTIONS taken in by Mr. ALDERMAN BOYDEL[L];
Mess. WHITE and SON, Fleet Street; Mr. RICHARDSON, Strand;
Mess. ROBSON and Co. New Bond Street;
Mess.PAYNE, Mews-Gate; Mr. CADELL, Strand;
Mr. TORRE, Print Seller, Pall-Mall;
Mr. EDWARDS, Bookseller, Pall-Mall;
and at Mr. BROWN’S at Mr. MIDDLETON’S, No. 162, Strand [?1797].
Note - 162 The Strand was the famous Somerset Coffee House, later described as an hotel. On the East corner of the entrance to Kings College.
Edmunds owner in 1787 - Dr Johnson ate here, James Boswell frequently breakfasted here.
From Tallis Street Views - 1838 - 40.
Carved from white statuary marble with associated original square tapered Convent Sienna marble socle. It retains its original unpolished surface. The individual locks of hair have been sculpted but the finer details of the curls and eyebrows remain unfinished.
Although left unfinished this bust would appear to be the earliest version of Roubiliac's busts of Alexander Pope. He appears idealised - younger, healthier and perhaps more classically handsome than in any of the other later busts by Roubiliac.
This bust, I believe to be lot 75, described as a bust of Pope, in the only remaining Roubiliac sale catalogue now in the Finberg Collection at the British Museum, and is one of the two marble busts left in the Roubiliac studio at the time of his death and subsequently sold by Langfords of Covent Garden on the fourth day of the sale of the contents of the studio on 15 May 1762.
The Seward Bust has the same detailing, particularly in the locks of hair, as the first signed and dated bust of 1738 now at Temple Newsam, the detail of the locks of hair on the later 1740 Milton and the 1741 later Barber type busts is quite different. This would suggest that the Temple Newsam and Seward busts are near contemporary with each other.
These details would point to the fact that the Seward bust is the earliest version of the Roubiliac Pope busts, probably based on a missing clay or terracotta.
The print was published posthumously by Mrs Brown. John Brown 1749 - 87 was a Scottish artist, pupil of Alexander Runciman and was a close acquaintance of Henry Fuseli whom he met in Rome, whilst he was employed by William Townley and Sir William Young from 1769 - 1780.William Seward was in Rome at this time.
This is the first positively identifiable bust of Pope by Roubiliac illustrated in the Eighteenth Century.
Here is another version of this print in the British Museum - it is missing the title - probably a proof copy before publishing.
See entry for Seward - Dictionary of National Biography.
Note. The Eumelian club. A Club in London, founded by the learned and ingenious physician, Dr. Ash, in honour of whose name it was called Eumelian, from the Greek [Greek: Eumelias]; though it was warmly contended, and even put to a vote, that it should have the more obvious appellation of Fraxinean, from the Latin. BOSWELL. This club, founded in 1788, met at the Blenheim Tavern, Bond-street. Reynolds, Boswell, Dr Burney, Sir George Baker F.R.S. John Heaviside and Windham were members. Rose's Biog. Dict. ii. 240.
The father of William Seward was a partner in Calvert and Seward of Red Cross Street the largest brewers in London in the Mid Eighteenth Century.
Silvanus Bevan III was the son of Timothy Bevan (1704 -86), brother and partner of Silvanus Bevan II FRS apothecary of Plough Court, Lombard Street. Silvanus Bevan II FRS was married in 1715 to Elizabeth Quare, daughter of Daniel Quare Quaker clockmaker. He leased the premises at 2, Plough Court from Salem Osgood, another wealthy Quaker Linen Draper. Silvanus Bevan II moved in 1715 to Plough Court, Lombard Street, the previous home of the Pope family and where Alexander Pope was born in 1685. It should be noted that Popes father was also a linen draper.
See further references to Quaker Sylvanus Bevan I, apothecary and sculptor in the Vandewall family history to follow.
Seward was a close friend of Dr Johnson and is mentioned on numerous occasions in Boswell's - Life of Johnson, and frequently in The Journals and Letters of Fanny Burney and the Diaries of Hester Lynch Thrale.
Much more on Seward to follow.