Saturday 30 May 2015

Bust of Robert Cotton by Roubiliac

The British Museum Terracotta Bust c.1757 
of Sir Robert Bruce Cotton Bt. (1571 -1631)

By Louis Francois Roubiliac.
Photographed 8th April 2015 - Terracotta attached to a stone socle.

This is the model for the marble at Trinity College Cambridge , commissioned by Eliab Harvey and completed in 1757. The pose is slightly different, the head is more erect in the marble. It remained with the Harvey family until 1922. The monument to William and Mary Harvey was erected in 1758 by Roubiliac is in St Andrews Hempstead Essex

It was advertised in the Connoisseur Vol LXIII, no 249, May 1922, by J Rochelle Thomas
Purchased by the British Museum in 1924

Sir Robert Bruce Cotton (1571-1631), politician and antiquary, devoted much of his life to the preservation of the records of English literature and history, many of which had been dispersed by the dissolution of the monasteries by Henry VIII, and to which he added many contemporary official papers. Cotton, a Member of Parliament, was influential as an expert on precedents and made his library widely available to others. Involvement in the murky politics of the time led to difficulties. He was briefly arrested during the reign of James I and in 1629 the library was sealed on the orders of Charles I. It was eventually restored to the family and was subsequently given to the nation in 1700 by his grandson Sir John Cotton (1621-1702), 3rd Bt. After years of neglect the Cotton collection, which included a coin cabinet, was in 1753 entrusted to the British Museum by Act of Parliament. Among its great treasures are the Lindisfarne Gospels, Beowulf and two copies of Magna Carta. The Cottonian manuscripts were transferred to the British Library in 1973 but the BM retains the Cotton coin cabinet.

The Marble Bust of Sir Robert Bruce Cotton at Trinity College, Cambridge.

Notable among the College portraits are those in marble in the antechapel and library. Foremost among them is the statue of Newton by Roubiliac, carved in 1755, in the antechapel. Also by Roubiliac in the antechapel is the portrait bust of Daniel Lock. (fn. 298) In the library are ten posthumous marble busts by Roubiliac: of Sir Francis Bacon, Isaac Barrow, Richard Bentley, Sir Edward Coke, Sir Robert Cotton, Sir Isaac Newton, John Ray, Thomas 2nd Baron Trevor, Charles 1st Baron Whitworth, and Francis Willoughby, all carved between 1751 and 1757. Also in the library are four marble busts by Scheemakers: of Roger Cotes (1758), James Jurin (1766), Edward Wortley Montagu (1766), and Robert Smith (1758). The statue of Byron by Thorwaldsen stands at the south end of the library. There are, by Chantrey, a bust of Richard Porson in the antechapel, and of Sir Walter Scott in a set of College rooms. There are, by Woolner, a statue of Macaulay (1868) in the antechapel, and a bust of Tennyson (1857) in the library. A statue of Tennyson by Hamo Thorneycroft (1909) is in the antechapel.


Portrait of Sir Robert Bruce Cotton by Cornelius Jonson (1593 -1661).

84.5 x 68 cms.

"The painting is said to have been acquired by the Museum in 1753 as part of the Cottonian Library. This had been given to the nation in 1700 and was in 1753 entrusted to the British Museum by Act of Parliament as one of the three founding collections"
British Museum.

Engraving of 1655 by Thomas Cross after Cornelius Jonson.
135 x 91 mm.

 Frontispiece to 'Bibliotheca Cottoniana' (1696).

 'C. Iohnson pinxit 1629' and 'R. White sculpsit 1696.'
308 x 197mm.
British Museum.

This print above is the source for the bust by Roubiliac.

Engraving by George Vertue after Paul van Sommer, 1744.
369 x 240 mm.
Published by the Society of Antiquaries.
British Museum.