Tuesday 2 May 2017

Bust of Alexander Pope bought by John Lane of the Bodley Head Publishers in Bath in 1919

Bust of Alexander Pope
bought by John Lane of the Bodley Head Publishers in 1919.

This little bust is cataloged as 59.2 Miniature Marble Bust similar to No 59.1 in the Victoria Art Gallery, Bath in the excellent The Portraits of Alexander Pope by William Kurtz Wimsatt published by Yale 1965.

Whilst hunting for references to the Bath Sculptor Prince Hoare (1711 - 69) for a future lecture I will be giving on Bath Sculptors I came across the letter published in the Spectator of 3rd January 1920 referring to the purchase of a miniature marble bust of Alexander Pope by John Lane (1854 - 1925) of the Bodley Head publishers of Vigo Street, London.

This letter is full of misinformation regarding the attribution of this bust to Prince Hoare and that it was one of the two busts of Pope and Newton in Wiltshire's Assembly Rooms mentioned in the Gentleman's Magazine of February 1741, given that research into portrait sculpture was very much in its infancy this is understandable. Wimsatt pulls most of this speculation apart (p.237 - 240, ref 59.2). According to Vertue writing in 1749/50 Hoare had just returned from his grand tour in Italy and I have written at length on the busts of Pope and Newton in Wiltshire's Rooms. The sole reason that it was ascribed to Hoare is that it had been found by Mr Lane in Bath.
see my blog entries -

I have closely examined and photographed this small bust - the attribution to Prince Hoare is untenable - there is no signature and the (oversize wooden) socle had the attribution to Hoare added to it by Reginald Wright after it had been presented to the Victoria Art Gallery by Mrs John Lane (letter dated 30 August 1925) after the death of John Lane.(see Wimsatt).

This little bust, although much smaller and lacking the subtle finishing is nearly identical in detail to the very fine signed and dated marble bust of Pope by Roubiliac formerly belonging to Lord Mansfield at Kenwood and now at Milton near Peterborough.


There is a plaster version at Hughenden (National Trust), although heavily over painted it appears to have been taken from the marble.

see - http://bathartandarchitecture.blogspot.co.uk/2014/01/the-roubiliac-type-plaster-busts-of.html

Although it is possible that this little bust was copied from a plaster version of the Milton / Fitzwilliam /Mansfield marble bust, although it is remotely possible  that this little bust is perhaps from the studio of Louis Francois Roubiliac.

I will publish photographs of this small bust in my next blog entry.

I have cut and pasted the full letter from the Spectator here -

Sir, —1 have read with much interest the correspondence on this subject and the article which inspired it, and I have just discovered some contemporary references to Pope and Jervas by Walter Harts, in a volume entitled Poems on Several Occasions (Bernard Lintot, 1727). The poem is headed " An Essay on Painting " :—
"But ah! how long will nature ask to give A soul like his, and bid a wonder live?

Rarely a Titian or a Pope appears,
The forming glory of a thousand years? "
And again:-
" Time was, when Pope for rhymes would knit his brow,
And write as tasteless lines—as I do now."
There is also a poem " To Mr. Pope," in which the following passage occurs :- 

"So seems some Picture, where exact design, 
And curious pains, and strength and sweetness join : 
Where the free thought its pleasing grace bestows, 
And each warm stroke with living colour glows; 
Soft without weakness, without labour fair; 
Wrought up at once with happiness and care!"
Pope must have been pleased with the poems, for in a long list of subscribers I found the name of " Mr. Pope" for " four books."
There is also a reference to Jervas :-
"Still in his right the graceful Jervas sways,
Sacred to beauty, and the fair one's Praise, Whose breathing paint another life supplies,
And calls new wonders forth from Mordaunt's eyes."
Gay, in "Mr. Pope's Welcome from Greece," does not mention the paintings of Pope, but the following line occurs :-
"Thee Jervas hails, robust and debonair."
It would appear that Pope became a pupil of Jervas towards the end of 1713, and remained with him for eighteen months.
Jervas was no mean painter. When a writer like Mr. II. C. Collins Baker devotes his attention, as I understand he is doing, to our eighteenth-century portrait-painters, the works of the Richardson, Hudson, Ramsey, Hayman, Knapton, and Jervas, and a host of other portrait-painters, will prove to be a revelation.
Some time ago I heard a rumour that a book was being written on Jervas. Should this letter meet the eye of the author of it, I should be pleased if he would communicate with me.
Perhaps, in connection with Pope, it may interest your readers to know that some eighteen months ago I picked up in Bath a bust of Pope in marble by Prince Hoare, a name new in the annals of plastic art; indeed, his name does not occur in any Dictionary of Artists nor any Catalogue known to me, nor is it mentioned by Mr. Beresford Chancellor in his Lives of the English Sculptors. There is, however, reference to him in the current Bath Guide (1919) as having made the statue in marble of Beau Nash now in the Pump Room. The statue is at present " skied" in a niche—indeed quite near the ceiling, where it looks hideous—instead of being placed on the line. This statue gave rise to the following epigram, attributed to Lord Chesterfield :--
"Immortal Newton never spoke More truth than here you'll find; Nor Pope himself e'er pen'd a joke Severer on Mankind.
This picture placed these busts between, Gives satire its full strength; Wisdom and wit are little seen, But Folly at full length."
And probably my bust of Pope is one of those referred to. Mr. Austin Dobson informs me that the Beau Nash statue is recorded in Fielding's Covent Garden Journal, but until I found the Pope bust nothing else was known by Hoare.

*see my blog entry for a much fuller paper on the Wiltshire Room pair of busts -
http://bathartandarchitecture.blogspot.co.uk/2016/11/busts-of-newton-and-pope-in-wiltshires.html   *
Recently in Bath I discovered, thanks to the accomplished Mr. Reginald Wright, Curator of the Victoria Art Gallery, that Prince Hoare also made a bas-relief of Pope put up by Bishop Warburton in 1761 in Twickenham Church, where it still remains, but the sculptor's name was not attached to it, nor does it appear to have been known before. '
I also found a noble marble bust of Ralph Allen in the Mineral Water Hospital, signed by the sculptor, and a plaster bust of Jerry Pierce, by the same hand. Prince Hoare was one of the constant visitors, with his brother William Hoare, ILA., Pope, and Fielding, at Prior Park. He died November ath. 1769, and was buried at Walcot Church, Bath, where his brother William was also" interred. There are certainly two monumental portraits in bas-relief by him of Jerry Pierce and Paul Bertrand in the church, and I think there are three or four other monuments without portraits; but there must be a great deal of his work to be found in the Western Counties. It has occurred to me that some of the famous collection of statuary that is, or at any rate was, at Stourhead may have been designed by him, and probably he was instrumental in forming the collection, as his niece, the daughter of William Hoare, married Henry, brother of Sir Richard Hoare of Stourhead, but I cannot trace that they were connected in any other way. Although Prince Hoare died in 1769, he may have designed for Mr. Henry Hoare the famous Tower at Stourton in memory of King Alfred, completed in 1772. Perhaps some of your readers can confirm this.
It is not known where William and Prince Hoare were born, but the D.N.B. gives their probable birthplace as Eye in Suffolk, but the name does not occur in the church register of the place, so probably they were born in some neighbouring parish. It would be interesting to verify this, and to have any further information regarding the sculptor's life and the whereabouts of his works, particularly of any at Stourhead.
I feel that I must thank the writer of the original article on the paintings of Pope, for it has given me a new interest
in his poems.—I am, Sir, &c., John LANE. The Bodley Head, Vigo Street, W.

to be continued .............