Wednesday 15 January 2014

1 . The Marble Bust of Alexander Pope owned by William Seward.

1.The William Seward Bust of Alexander Pope.

by Louis Francois Roubiliac, Circa 1737 - 38.

A Marble Bust of Pope; almost certainly the unfinished? bust left in the Roubiliac Studio in St Martin's Lane and sold on the fourth day of the sale of the contents, Sat. 15 May 1762, lot 75. 

Note. see sale catalogue - only existing copy in the Finberg Collection, The British Museum.

 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. Bust 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.


Stipple Engraving of the bust in the possession of William Seward of Alexander Pope by Roubiliac dated 1788, drawn by John Brown and engraved by Marino Bovi. 

Published by Mrs Brown at Mr Middleton's, 162 Strand. Feb 1788.

The Bust here misattributed to Rysbrack. (He got the R and ac nearly right).


This section updated 2 June 2023.


Proposals for engraving busts of Homer and Pope (?1787)




The Drawings are already finished by Mr. BRO, 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

subscribed for.


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].


info from -

The Bust of Homer drawn by John Brown.

Pub Mrs Brown at Middletons 



I suspect that either the numbering in the Strand changed or perhaps The Somerset Coffee House relocated here.

Note - 162, The Strand was in 1805 the location of the famous Somerset Coffee House, later described as an hotel. On the East corner of the entrance to Kings College.

1805/Valentine Saunders, Somerset Coffee house & Hotel, 162 Strand/../../Holdens Directory

 1822/S R Saunders, Somerset Coffee house, 162 Strand/../../London Directory

 1829/S R Saunders, Somerset Coffee house, 162 Strand/../../Robsons Directory

 1833-34/Samuel Robert Saunders, Somerset Hotel, 162 Strand/../../Pigots Directory

 1836/Alexander Stewart, Somerset Hotel, 162 Strand/../../Pigots Directory

From Tallis Street Views - 1838 - 40. with Stewart the proprietor.



162 Strand.

Two labels from the interior of a brass bound writing box

Middletons, 162 Strand. London

1788 - 1791 (at least) possibly until 1810.

1788 through 1791 Nicholas Middleton, Pencil and Toymaker listed in London Directories at 162 Strand, London.

Dec 1788.  John Miers the Silhouettist / profilist was at Mr Middletons in 1791 he moved to 111 The Strand.

(Morning Post, 2 September 1789 -

That in proportion as the Profiles are reduced, they invariably acquire increasing spirit and animation, a circumstance directly opposite to every other previous invention. These miniatures are therefore particularly adapted for wearing in rings, pins, lockets, bracelets, faux montres, &c. Specimens of a number of the most distinguished Characters may be seen at his apartments, Mr. Middleton's Pencil Manufactory, No. 162, near the New Church, Strand, where he attends from Twelve in the morning till Four in the afternoon.

 Time of sitting — two minutes.

Each Likeness is given elegantly framed, or reduced upon ivory, to set in Rings, Lockets, &c. &c.

The expence from 7s. 6d. to One Guinea.

N.B. Mr. Miers pledges himself to accept of no gratuity, unless his performances meet the entire approbation of his employers.TRAVELLING CASES for Pens, Ink, Paper, &c. Gentlemen who make Summer excursions, are often prevented from committing their observations to paper, by the difficulty of procuring proper apparatus.

Middleton, Nicholas, 162 Strand, London, pocket book and pencil maker, cm and dealer in cutlery and hardware (1801– 10). Took out Sun Insurance policies on 5 October 1804 for £1,000, of which £820 accounted for utensils and stock; and on 29 December 1806 for £2,500. [GL, Sun MS vol. 431, ref. 767264; vol. 437, ref. 798272] In July 1801, N. Middleton supplied the Royal Household with ‘a Case for Box seat to the Nabob’, costing £1 16s; and on 27 December 1810, a writing box costing £5 4s 10d, recorded in the accounts on 22 January 1812. [Windsor Royal Archives, 88916, 89031] Regency brass-bound mahogany portable desk recorded, hinged to reveal two baise-lined sloping flaps enclosing fitted and open wells, a glass sander and secret drawers; bearing trade label which reads: ‘N. Middleton, 162 Strand, Manufacturary of … writing and dressing desks…’. [Sotheby's, 14 November 1969, lot 78; 13 February 1970, lot 130] A good quality brass-bound writing box is recorded, bearing label with Royal Arms, which reads: ‘N. MIDDLETON, 162 STRAND, OPPOSITE NEWCASTLE STREET, THE CORNER OF STRAND LANE, POCKET BOOK & PENCIL MAKER TO THE KING & PRINCE OF WALES, MANUFACTURER OF COPYING MACHINES, WRITING & DRESSING DESKS & ALL KINDS OF PORTABLE CASES FOR TRAVELLING, STATIONARY OF ALL KINDS, COPPER PLATE ENGRAVING & PRINTING, IMPROVED CRAYON PENCILS FOR DRAWING IN COLOURS. WARRENTED RAZORS & ALL KINDS OF FINE CUTLERY.’ [Bonham's, 10 June 1982, lot 14] Label also recorded on a small satinwood desk.


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.

The William Seward Bust of Pope - The Socle has been turned around - it is flat on the back as in the engraving.

The conformation of the curls is exactly the same as in the first signed and dated version of 1738, now at Temple Newsam, but not as in the later Milton / Fitzwilliam or Barber Institute Type busts.

The Seward bust appears to be an earlier slightly more upright and younger looking version of the signed and dated version at Temple Newsam of 1738. (These busts have been photographed together for comparison.)

The Seward bust is unfinished. The locks of hair have been cut but the hairs have not received the final chiselling. The cutting of the back of the bust and the socle would suggest that it was created for a specific site but never finished and installed.

It would seem that workshop practice at the time was to finish the surface of the marble with a fine abrasive probably pumice, before the final cutting of the hair, eyebrows and then the beeswax polish was applied. This process was never completed with the Seward bust.

The back of the bust is roughly finished with a claw chisel and is very similar to the unsigned bust of Isaac Ware now in the National Portrait Gallery, London. Whilst the later busts of Roubiliac all have finished backs the backs of the early busts by Roubiliac seem to follow no set pattern particularly the various versions of the Pope bust and the early bust of Isaac Ware.

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 following bust no. 2 in this list, The Roger Warner / Philip Mould bust, I believe to be Lot 76 in the sale and described as a head of Pope in the catalogue of the sale.


 A profile view of the Seward bust by Roubiliac.

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.


                             The Temple Newsam bust of Alexander Pope by Roubiliac, 1738.
                                  Compare the cutting of the hair with the Seward bust.

The Temple Newsam version is truncated. The detail of the lower folds of the chemise visible on the Seward bust and the later Barber type busts is not visible on the Temple Newsam version. It therefore follows that the Seward bust could not be a copy by another sculptor because of the relationship of the detailing on the early and the later busts.

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 Stipple Engraving of the Seward Bust of Pope of 1788.

 The Seward bust of Pope is illustrated, but wrongly attributed to Micheal Rysbrack in a 1788 stipple engraving, which is inscribed - 

Drawn by J. Brown and engraved by Marino Bovi, a pupil of F. Bartolozzi R.A.

Entitled - Alexander Pope from the fine Original Bust by Rysbrack, in the Possession of Wm. Seward Esqr. London, Published by Mrs. Brown, at Mr. Middltons, No. 162 Strand, Feby. 1788.

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.

See Dictionary of Scottish Art and Architecture, Antique Collectors Club, 1994.

This is the first positively identifiable bust of Pope by Roubiliac illustrated in the Eighteenth Century.

See O’Donoghue. Catalogue of Engraved British Portraits ....1912.

Here is another version of this print in the British Museum -  it is missing the title - probably a proof copy before publishing.


 A few notes relating to William Seward. F.R.S; F.S.A. (1747 - 99).

Gentleman writer, biographer, and hypochondriac. Friend of Sir Robert Walpole, the Thrales, the Burneys, William Chambers, Sir Joshua Reynolds, and Samuel Johnson. Educated Charterhouse (Malone) and at Oriel College, Oxford. Visited Italy on the Grand Tour.

A member of the Eumelian Club formed by Dr Ash M.D. F.R.C.P.(1723 -1798), Dr. Samuel Johnson was also a prominent member.

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.

[Greek: Eummeliaes] means _armed with good ashen spear.

For the best account of the Eumelian Club see: The life of Sir Martin Archer Shee, President of the Royal Academy by his son Martin Archer Shee, Longmans 1860.

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.

Note: The Thrales of Streatham owned the second largest brewery in London, known as the Anchor Brewery in Southwark which was sold in 1781 to the Quaker bankers David Barclay of Barclay, Bevan (Sylvanus Bevan III) and Bening,

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.

James Barry (1741 - 1806) the painter, hated Seward for his attachment to the painter Fuseli, (Fuseli illustrated Sewards ‘Anecdotes’). Seward supported Fuseli financially in setting up his grand failure - the Milton Gallery in Pall Mall in May 1799. See Henry Fuseli, Martin Myrone 2001, p.60.

Seward asked the sculptor Nollekins unsuccessfully to give him his ‘Michel Angelos model of Venus.’
Seward lodged at the Golden Ball, 5 Little Maddox Street. See Smith, J.T: Nollekens and his Times for these refs.

Boswell writes to Dr Johnson 15 July 1777 ” I received Mr. Seward as the friend of Mr and Mrs Thrale and as a gentleman recommended by Dr Johnson to my attention. I have introduced him to Lord Kames, Lord Monboddo and Mr. Nairne. He is gone to the highlands with Dr Gregory. When he returns I shall do more for him”.

15 Jan 1790 Seward writes to Samuel Parr from Maddox St and again on 25 May on behalf of himself, Boswell and Sir Joshua Reynolds with ref. to the epitaph for Samuel Johnsons monument in St Pauls Cathedral.

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.

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