Tuesday 8 November 2016

Busts of Newton and Pope in Wiltshires Assembly Rooms Bath - Redux.

The Pair of Busts of Newton and Pope
Previously in Wiltshire's Assembly Rooms,
Terrace Walk
 It has long been my belief that the two busts split up in 1968 and recently reunited - and now in the possession of Lord Rothschild are the pair of busts first noted in the Gentleman's Magazine of February 1741 Vol 11 p. 102 as in Wiltshire's Assembly Rooms in Bath.
'On Mr Nash's present of his own picture at full length fixt between the bustos of Mr Pope and Sir Is Newton in the long room at Bath'
This reference and the epigram believed at one time to be by Lord Chesterfield are the only references to busts of Newton and Pope together. 
I have recently rediscovered the poem below  in my files.

A Newspaper clipping from the London Chronicle 12 March 1761.
Oliver Goldsmiths Life of Beau Nash published in 1762 repeats the epigram -
This picture, plac’d the busts between
  Gives Satire all its strength;
Wisdom and Wit are little seen
  While Folly glares at length.
 previously attributed to Lord Chesterfield but almost certainly by Jane Brereton d. 1740 writing under the nom de plume of Melissa.
This poem and Goldsmiths reference would suggest that the pair of busts were still at Wiltshire's rooms in the early 1760's.
Walter Wiltshire died in 1763, this I would suggest, is the most likely time when the busts were removed from the Assembly Rooms - although these Lower Rooms went into a long decline after the opening of the Upper Rooms and the building was taken over in 1782 by toyman William Glover.
I have published previously on this at some length about the pair busts of Pope and Roubiliac by Roubiliac sold at the Hinton House sales of the propertie of George 8th Earl Poulett (d.1973) by Sotheby's.
Hinton House, Hinton St George Somerset the contents were sold in three sales - 1st November and 8th November 1968 and 28th March 1969.
see my previous blog entries
Somerset Archive and Record Service, DD/PT Box 9: an inventory of the effects at the residence of the Late Earl Poulett, Hinton St George, Somersetshire, May 15th 1819.
I have not yet been able to check this document.
Drawing of Wiltshire's Assembly Rooms by James Vertue c,. 1741
From the New Foundling Hospital For Wit, 1768.