Thursday 16 January 2014

William Kurtz Wimsatt - The Busts of Alexander Pope

William Kurtz Wimsatt. 

The Portraits of Alexander Pope. Yale 1965.

The starting point for anyone interested in the Iconology of Alexander Pope.


   William Kurtz Wimsatt and the collection of the Pope busts by Roubiliac. 1961.

The Victoria and Albert Museum Marble Bust of Pope Attributed to Roubiliac.

8.  Alexander Pope.
The Victoria and Albert Museum Marble Bust.

             attributed to Louis Francois Roubiliac.

Height 19 ins? 
Eyes Cut, draped. 
On a square tapered socle. 

Not signed or dated, 
based on the Barber Institute terracotta  bust.

see -

Victoria & Albert Museum. 

When inspected in 2002 there was a later cement fillet between the bust and socle giving the bust a pronounced forward lean.

Supposedly formerly in the collection of Lady Neave, Dagenham Hall, Essex. 
(see Wimsatt, 61.3 page 250. V.&A. Archives).

Bought from the dealer Bert Crowther, and sold to Dr. W.L. Hildburgh, who presented it to the museum  in 1947.

The provenance provided by Crowther is perhaps not entirely reliable.

A few notes -

Dagnam Park, Romford, Essex was occupied by the Army during the 2nd World War. Demolished 1948. The areas known as Harold Hill and Noak Hill are now housing estates.

It would appear that the Richard Neave first leased Dagnam in around 1749.

He was a wealthy London merchant, trading between London, Sierra Leone, and the Americas, he owned plantations on Nevis, the Leeward Islands and Montserrat.

In 1772 Dagnams was purchased by his son also Richard Neave (d.1814). who demolished the old house and built a splendid new mansion with gardens designed by Humphry Repton.

Richard Neave was Chairman of the Society of West Indian Merchants, Director of the Hudson Bay Company and became Governor of the Bank of England in 1780, Sheriff of Essex in 1794, and was created Baronet in 1795.

He was also in business with a Mr Neate, perhaps Anthony Neate.

Neave and Aislabie shipped provisions to Dominica, Jamaica, etc., a matter of £26,493. House of Commons Journal, Vol. 41, p. 339, and Vol. 43. In July 1788, Neave and Aislabie sent provisions to the West Indies for £20,636.

Major Sir Thomas Lewis Hughs Neave, 5th Baronet b.1884 - died on 12 May 1940. He was succeeded by his son Sir Arundell Neave who sold the estate to the L.C.C. and moved to Anglesey.


The Yale Marble Bust of Alexander Pope by Roubiliac

7. The Yale / Rosebery Bust of Alexander Pope by Louis Francois Roubiliac.

Marble, 19.2 ins. 

Eyes cut. 

Yale Centre for the Study of British Art. 

Signed and dated 1741.

Signed and dated by chisel under sitter's shoulder, proper right: "Anno Dom. | MDCCXLI. | L.F. Roubiliac | Scit. Ad vivum"


Inscribed, chiseled on front of socle: 'POPE'; on proper left under sitter's shoulder: 'ALEX. POPE. Nats. LONDINI, | die 8o. junii anno MDCLXXXVIII. | Obiit in vico Twickenham prope | Urbem, die 8o. maii MDCCXLIV"

Inscribed on the Left hand side ALEX. Pope nats. LONDINI, die 8 junii anno MDCLXXXVIII. Obiit in vico Twickenham prope Urbem, die 8 maii MDCCXLIV.

Inscribed on the right Anno Dom. MDCCXLI. L.F.Roubiliac Sc it. ad vivum.

This is the version of the bust most closely related to the Barber Institute Terra cotta bust described in the previous entry.

See Wimsatt, 61.1 page 244.

Although signed and dated ad vivum 1741, there is an inscription in the same manner, recording the death of Pope at Twickenham on 8th May 1744, suggesting that this bust was carved and completed posthumously but based on Popes sitting for the terra cotta in 1741. 

Pope visited the studio of Roubiliac in July of 1741, and reported to Ralph Allen in Bath on the progress of busts for his library.

See Popes Correspondence.

According to tradition, this bust was commissioned by Lord Bolingbroke, who was a very close acquaintance of Pope, although as far as can be ascertained there is so far no documented proof of his ownership. It would seem that Bollingbroke spent most of his time in France between 1739 and 1743.

Notes - There is another link, however between Lord Bolingbroke, Pope and Roubiliac:

10 February 1738/9. Roubiliac supplied plaster versions of busts of Pope and Bollingbroke to the Earl of Marchmont ( Victoria & Albert, National Arts Library, Ms 1578 - 1939. The Household Accounts of Hugh Campbell, 3rd Earl of Marchmont 1737- 1746. Press No. 1737-1746 National Arts Library).

Note - The Temple Newsam Marble bust is dated 1738 but the cutting of the hair is quite different to this bust - There are no plaster versions of the Temple Newsam bust that I am aware of.

There two other busts of Pope of unknown material possibly marble which have not been identified.

1. The Madame Boccage Bust of Alexander Pope. Busts of Pope, Dryden, Milton and Shakespeare were sent with 3 others to Paris in 1751 by Lord Chesterfield..

Mrs Esdaile makes a very good case that the four busts for Mme Boccage’s garden sent to France were Roubiliac marble busts. Mrs Thrale saw them in her drawing room in 1775

2.  Lord Bruce bust of Alexander Pope. Charles, Lord Bruce,Viscount of Tottenham, d.1747. -Tottenham Park, Wiltshire. Inventory of 14 Nov.1744. (10 poets heads on painted and gilt brackets, one ditto Mr Pope). Charles, Lord Bruce a friend of Pope, m. Lady Julianna Boyle, sister of Lord Burlington in 1720. Burlington provided plans for Tottenham Park between 1730-40. (drawings at Chatsworth). The fact that the Pope bust is particularly noted is instructive. Although not stated as a Roubiliac marble bust, he is the most likely candidate for its authorship. A gilt bracket from Tottenham Park is in the V&A.

I know of no other versions by Rysbrack or Scheemakers in any material which might be this bust. Of course it could have been a plaster version by Roubiliac.

The Pair of carved wood painted and gilded corbel brackets from Tottenham Park and 
now in the Victoria and Albert Museum.

Possibly designed by Lord Burlington or William Kent. Most likely the latter if supplied with the busts of poets.

Lord Bruce’s Papers are in the Ailesbury Collection at Wiltshire Record Office. Chippenham.


This bust was bought from an unknown source by Joseph Browne, of Shepton Mallet and sold before 1791; it then passed to James Bindley, was sold 1819, by Sothebys, to Watson Taylor, and again sold in 1832 to Sir Robert Peel, sold again in 1900 in the Peel Heirlooms sale for 510 Guineas to Thos. Agnew and Son, acting on behalf of the Earl of Roseberry.

Sold Sothebys 1990, £930,000. Now at Yale Centre for the Study of British Art, New Haven. Conn. U.S.A.

Bronze attrib. to Roubiliac - 23.75 x 21.25 inches (60.3 x 54 cm)
Yale Paul Mellon Centre, They suggest c 1755. 

The Barber Institute Terracotta bust Of Alexander Pope by Roubiliac

6,  The Barber Institute Terracotta Bust of Alexander Pope 
by Louis Francois Roubiliac.

The original Terracotta prototype for the third type of Roubiliac Pope bust, height 24.5 ins. inc. socle. Barber Institute of Arts, University of Birmingham. ex collection Christopher Murray, Sold Sothebys, lot 47, 19 June 1970, Ill. Art at Auction 1969/70. P. 326/7. Ex Samuel Rogers, St James Place, Ex. Collection, Mrs Copner, Elton Hall. Huntingdon. Now At Yale, Paul Mellon Centre.
Sold by Christies 29 March 1805, lot 119 for £5 to Samuel Rogers (1763 - 1855), banker and poet laureate, sold by Christie's 28 April 1856.

See Wimsatt, 57.1 page 229.
This bust is the terracotta prototype on which the later two signed marbles busts of Pope the Garrick bust and the bust at Yale, Paul Mellon Centre for British Arts and the Poulett bust and the three unsigned marble busts are based.

The Poulett bust must date from 1740 - 41 if it the same as mentioned in the Gentlemans Magazine as Being in Wiltshire's Assembly Rooms in Bath in February 1741. This would date this terra cotta to 1740 or before. 

Rear View of the Barber Institute Tera cotta Pope by Roubiliac

A terracotta version, which might be this one, is mentioned in the sale catalogue of the contents of Roubiliac's studio at his late dwelling house in St Martins Lane by Langfords, Lot 76, third day of sale, Friday 5 May 1762 but it is possible that this lot may have been a different and lost terracotta version of the earlier busts.

According to Kerslake ( Early Georgian Portraits, National Gallery, 1977) sold to surgeon and collector John Belchier  1706 - 85. (who was also portrayed by Roubiliac circa 1750. 

The terra cotta bust of Belchier by Roubiliac is at the Royal College of Surgeons), information from Christies Archives. 
Belchier bequeathed the bust of Newton by Roubiliac to the Royal Society.

The David Garrick bust of Alexander Pope signed by Roubiliac

5.    The David Garrick Marble Bust of Alexander Pope by Roubiliac.

Marble, 16.5 ins. 

Eyes uncarved. 

Shipley Art Gallery, Gateshead. Tyne and Wear.

Signed and dated on the back.


and on the right A.POPE AETis LIII.

Originally in the collection of David Garrick, sold in his sale of 1823 
bought by W. Seguier 1827, 
thence to Earl of Durham; 

Bought by G.L.Collins at the Lambton Castle Sale in 1932, 
Presented 1937.


This bust appears to be the first version of the third Type of Roubiliac bust of Pope, and perhaps predates the terra cotta at the Barber Institute, Birmingham University (see next entry). 

The pronounced curl on top of his head is missing from other marble versions. Wimsatt notes two other versions in plaster, one with bookdealer Kulgin Duval in Falkland Fife Scotland in 1964, the other at Felbrigg Hall Norwich, Norfolk.

First noted in a Garrick inventory in 1777

This is the first mention of an identifiable Marble bust of Pope by Roubiliac recorded in the eighteenth Century.

This bust appears to have been recently repolished.
See Wimsatt, 60.1 page 241. and 60.2

Plaster bust of Alexander Pope at Felbrigg Hall, Norwich
Wimsatt states that it is slightly different size to the marble -
this is probably due to mismeasurement as the detail appears to
 replicate exactly that of the Garrick Marble.

Lead version of the Garrick bust - appears to have been taken from the same mould as the plaster at Felbrigg, 

Sold Christie's Dec. 1987, now at Marble Hill House.