Tuesday 21 January 2014

The Painted Engraved and Sculpted Portraits depicting Louis Francois Roubiliac.

The Painted Portraits of  Louis Francois Roubiliac.

Portrait of Roubiliac by Adrien Carpentiers. circa 1761. 

Louis Francois Roubiliac

Francois Xavier Vispre -

 at Yale, Paul Mellon Centre.

Portrait of Roubiliac 
by Andreas Soldi. 

circa 1751, 
Dulwich Gallery.

 Portrait of Roubiliac by Adrien Carpentiers with the bust of David Garrick. circa 1761.

Garrick Club.

Engraving of the Adrien Carpentier portrait of Roubiliac 
by David Martin, 1765.

Showing the terracotta model of the full length figure of Shakespeare made for the pavillion in the garden of the villa of David Garrick - the marble is now in the British Museum.


Miniature of Roubiliac by Bernard Lens. 

Location unknown.
Scan from Early Georgian Portraits. Kerslake, 1977.

Oil Portrait of Mrs Roubiliac - ne Nicole Celeste Reignier.
by Francois Xavier Vispre (1725 - 1794). V&A.
Third wife of Roubiliac, m. 1758 -59.
Height: 30 in estimate, Width: 25 in approx.

Vispre was a witness to the will of Roubiliac.
Vispre was living at 78 St Martins Lane in 1788 - 89.


Marble Portrait Bust

Described as Roubiliac by Wilton.

I find it almost impossible to believe that this is a bust of Roubiliac.

Compare with the above portraits!

Supposed bust of Roubiliac by Joseph Wilton.


Purchased by the National Portrait Gallery from a Roubiliac family member in 1927.

 If it is Roubiliac then it is an idealised portrait.
The nose appears quite different but the ears are very similar.

 Is it perhaps a bust of Mr Carter the sculptor? A plaster bust of Mr Carter was sold on the 2nd day of the Roubiliac sale 13 May 1762.

Presented, 1927, by the National Art-Collection Fund;

Provenance from the James Thomson collection at Sotheby's, 18 July 1851, lot 162, as Voltaire, bought Colnaghi's, from whom purchased by the sitter's great-grandson Francis Roubiliac Conder; sold by the latter's great-nephew Dr A.F.R. Conder, [8] Sotheby's, 3 December 1926, bought Shilliter.

Notes from the National portrait website reproduced from Early Georgian Georgian Portraits by John Kerslake, HMSO

Once called Voltaire and then Folkes,  identification of NPG 2145, though not entirely conclusive, rests on comparison with portraits of known authenticity and the supposed family likeness noted by Dominic Colnaghi after he had acquired the bust. When the sculptor's granddaughter visited his premises soon after, she was apparently received with the words: 'There is no need to ask what you have come about, Madam; the likeness is so unmistakable.'  The bust was then sold, as announced in The Athenaeum of 3 January 1852, to Francis Roubiliac Conder, great-grandson of the sitter. When last at Sotheby's in 1926, it was still described as a self-portrait and remained, after acquisition by the NPG, so attributed until now.

"Silvery tongued dealers sales patter perhaps!" (David Bridgwater).

Although it is rare for a sculptor to take a bust of himself, Mrs Esdaile accepts the family tradition that Roubiliac executed a self-portrait which was exhibited anonymously and also sold anonymously.

 While there were several items in the sculptor's posthumous sale called, 'mask of Mr. Roubiliac's', none is specifically described as a self-portrait.

On the other hand, a self-portrait in oils is mentioned by Nollekens as being in the second Roubiliac sale, 11 June 1762.  The care-worn features shown in NPG 2145, reminiscent of the oil by Soldi of 1751, accord well with the concept of a late date, and the dress, natural hair and unbuttoned shirt, with the portrayal of an artist.

A 'Marble Busto' by Roubiliac, exhibited at the Society of Artists in 1760 (86) and 'A Bust' exhibited in 1761 (153) previously associated by Mrs Esdaile with the self-portrait, have now been identified from contemporary sources as Dr Frewin and Lord Ligonier.

In 1761 Roubiliac also exhibited a bust of Wilton (154) and Wilton exhibited 'A Bust of Mr. Roubiliac' (167) and 'Ditto in marble of Oliver Cromwell' (168). Now that Joseph Wilton is better known, it could well be that NPG 2145 is a particularly good example of his work, perhaps the bust exhibited in 1761 or, since 'marble' is specified only for Cromwell, more probably a version of it. ‘Mr. Roubilliac by Mr. Wilton', lot 8 under 'BUSTS in Plaister', 2nd day of the Roubiliac sale, 13 May 1762, may well be the plaster exhibited the previous year. As the Wilton bust was owned by Roubiliac, it may have been mistaken for a self-portrait.

Plaster bust of Wilton with mallet by Roubiliac given to the Royal Academy in 1824 by Lady Frances Chambers, daughter of Joseph Wilton.

Lady Frances Chambers (1758-1839), wife of Sir Robert Chambers (1737-1803), Judge of Supreme Court, Calcutta 1774, Chief Justice 1791-99.

The Ten Busts of Alexander Pope here ascribed to Roubiliac- Summary.

The Busts of Alexander Pope by Louis Francois Roubiliac.

1. There are 10 marble busts of Pope by Roubiliac than can probably be safely ascribed to Roubiliac and his studio. The four signed versions, and the Seward, Warner, Saltwood, Windsor, V&A and Poulett.

2. There are three basic types of the Roubiliac Pope bust.

A. The 1738, Temple Newsam Type. There are two versions. The T.N. and the Seward bust where Pope still appears relatively young and virile. This is plain to see in several drawings and etchings from 1737 - 8 by Jonathan Richardson. The drapery on these two busts have the same details and is of similar quality although the T.N. Bust is truncated. A very important point in identifying the Seward bust as by Roubiliac.

B. The 1740 Mansfield / Milton type. The Milton and Warner busts where he appears to have aged somewhat. The plaster version at Hughenden would indicate that it is the same as mentioned in the Marchmont inventory.

C. The 1740 Barber Institute type including the variant Shipley bust and the other 5 versions. He appears older more lined and careworn, with very deep bags under his eyes, sunken cheeks and neck and his skin tight across his forehead. Mrs Esdaile notes “the traces of increased suffering” on the later busts in an article published in the listener in 1940.

Pope must have sat for Roubiliac in 1737 or early in 1738, in order for him to have completed the 1738 dated , ad vivum Temple Newsam bust and the 1738/9 Marchmont bust.

3. Pope had Potts disease - a progressive tuberculosis of the bones. In July 1740 he wrote to Ralph Allen about visiting Bath but pleads ill health “I am in no pain but my case is not curable and must in course of time as it does not diminish, become painful first then fatal” He suffered a serious infection of his kidneys and urinary tract which was operated on by the surgeon Cheselden in August of 1740. This would explain the obvious deterioration in the appearance of his physiognomy between 1737 and 1741.

It is my contention that there were two other terra cotta or plaster prototype busts now missing from the 1737/8 and 1740 periods and that the Barber terra cotta was completed by 1739.
We know of  his visit to Roubiliacs studio for Ralph Allen in July of 1741.

4. Lot 75, a marble bust of Pope and lot 76 a marble head of Pope sold at the Roubiliac sale on the fourth day were the Seward bust and Warner head. Both are versions of the earlier signed busts. The Seward is unfinished and the Warner bust has faults, explaining their remaining in the studio.

5. The Seward bust has details only visible on two separate Roubiliac busts of Pope. The hair on the Temple Newsam bust and the drapery on the Barber type busts. It follows therefor that it could not be a copy. A copier would have to had access to the two separate busts to include all the details of the hair and drapery. This is a most important factor in attributing this bust.