Monday 23 October 2017

Marble bust of George II by Rysbrack at the Sotheby's Howard Hodgkin Sale.




A Weathered and Repolished Marble Bust 
of George II (1683 - 1760).
by Michael Rysbrack (1694 - 1770). 
at the Sotheby's Howard Hodgkin Sale.
Lot 193, Tuesday 24 October 2017.
No established provenance.


I have already posted a page on the busts by Rysbrack of George II and Queen Caroline.This is an important update on the subject particularly as I now obtained much better photographs of the Marble Busts at Christ Church, Oxford, the Victoria and Albert Museum and the Sotheby / Howard Hodgkin version.

https://bathartandarchitecture.blogspot.co.uk/2015/08/the-busts-in-queen-carolines-library.html



Sotheby's not unreasonably, suggest in their catalogue that the Howard Hodgkin George II could originally have been paired with the bust of Queen Caroline now in the Wallace Collection.(see photograph below and my next post).

There are two types of the Rysbrack busts of George II.

A younger type as in the Royal Collection version at Kensington Palace and the Sotheby's Hodgkin bust - the rerracotta in the Royal Collection being the prototype for these two busts.

The older version represented by the unsigned Windsor Castle, the Christchurch and the Victoria and Albert Museum busts, the terracotta of Durham University being a prototype for these busts.

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George Vertue notes in 1728 'Mr Rysbrack has finished as model of the Kings face in Wax, only at opportunities of seeing the king that is thought very like'. The little bust pictured below is possible candidate for a copy of this wax bust.In 1738 after the death of Queen Caroline George Vertue wrote@ as he has done more eminent and noble persons from the life his great merit has recommended him to the KING, who sat for him at Kensington twice, to have his picture modelled in clay. the likeness much approved on - and with a good air. also a Model of the Queen vastly like, tho not done from the life'.






Herm bust of George II perhaps by Michael Rysbrack
21.5cms tall.
An very unusual perhaps unique small terracotta herm of George II appeared at Sotheby's London, Lot 114, 14 July 2010. Previously sold Sotheby's, 8 July 1993, lot 190.
The thumb print is very interesting - does it belong tothe master?









George II.
 signed M: RYSBRACK F
White Statuary Marble.
Sotheby's say circa 1739.
Height 63 cms.

With the badge of the order of the garter on his left breast and the Great George on a ribbon around his neck

Authors photograph.

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Sotheby's Condition Report.


The marble is a very finely carved autograph portrait bust by Rysbrack. There is dirt and wear to the surface consistent with age. The surface is consistent with the marble having been outdoors for a period of time. There is general wear to the surface due to weathering, for example to the lesser George pendant and the inscription on the garter star. The surface is dry in areas, in particular at the back. Parts of the surface, in particular the sash and the face, have been repolished. There is possible restoration and paint residue to under the nose. The tip of the laurel above the forehead is reattached. There are a few small losses and chips to the laurels. 

There are small naturally occurring inclusions to the marble, in particular at the proper left side of the face and the sash on the proper left side. 

There are residues of blue-green paint including to the back of the bust. There is dirt, particularly to the crevices, and dark dirt marks particularly at the back and behind the shoulders. 

The marble would benefit from a professional cleaning and waxing. There are a few small losses including to the edges of the knot at the neck and to the dragon's wing on the pendant. There are a few small chips, including to the sash. There is veining to the marble consistent with the material. There is a small chip to the edge of the proper right shoulder.

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My opinion - for what its worth.

This bust has suffered a great deal from being outside and much of the surface where it has been exposed has sugared probably by acids in the atmosphere. This is very evident in the laurel leaves and curls of the hair. At some time in its past it has been restored by polishing the sugared surface particularly on the face and front of the bust. In doing so this has removed the majority, if not all of the original surface and thus the original intentions of the sculptor.

It is my opinion that any further intervention could only worsen the state of the already compromised surface.

Whilst historically interesting it can no longer be described as an original work of art. It should be compared with the other versions which are in much better condition - the photographs of the Christ Church marble bust, the two Royal Collection busts and the Victoria and Albert marble bust by Rysbrack (pictured below) show clearly what this bust must have looked like originally.

My advice to any potential purchaser - think very carefully before bidding tens or even hundreds of thousands of pounds for a bust whose distressed and weathered surface has been altered from the original and therefore it is a work where the sculptors intentions have been severely compromised!







Inscription on the bust of Queen Caroline at the Wallace Collection

















Photographs from the Sotheby's website
see - 
http://www.sothebys.com/en/auctions/ecatalogue/2017/howard-hodgkin-portrait-artist-l17120/lot.193.html




Marble Bust of Queen Caroline by Michael Rysbrack
Wallace Collection.

Sotheby's suggest that the Hodgkin bust of George II could be the pair to it.
see below for a terracotta version

Photograph taken in very poor light by the Author.

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George II.
Michael Rysbrack
 in the Christchurch Gallery, St Aldates, Oxford.


This bust was placed over the hall chimney-piece when the Hall was repaired and adorned under the direction of Dean Gregory in about 1752 and removed to Christchurch Library when the new Chimney-pieces were built before 1804 - see Oxford Almanack, Christ Church Hall drawn by JMW Turner and engraved with variations in 1807.

All photographs below by the author.

I am very grateful to Jacqueline Thalman curator of the Christ Church Gallery for allowing me to visit and to take photographs for this blog of the busts at the Gallery.


I am also very grateful for the assistance of Dana Josephson and for suggesting that I investigate and record the various busts in the Bodleian Library and at Christ Church and for enabling me to photograph this and the other busts.










































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George II
Michael Rysbrack
1760
Victoria and Albert Museum.


George II
Michael Rysbrack
Marble. 
Signed at the back with the initials MR and dated 1760
Height 89 cms.
Victoria and Albert Museum

Photographed by the author.























































Photographs by the author.


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George II
Michael Rysbrack
Marble Bust.
c. 1738/9.

Height 69.8 cms.
Royal Collection.
Located room 5 Kensington Palace.

This is one of a pair of portrait busts made by the Flemish sculptor working in England, John Michael Rysbrack. They were ordered for Queen Caroline, King George II’s consort and were commissioned for the decoration of the new library at St James's Palace, designed by the English architect William Kent. 

George Vertue, in his diaries, provides valuable information on the origin of these two marble portrait busts. 

In 1738 he noted that ‘the KING … sat to [Rysbrack] at Kensington twice. to have his picture modelled in Clay. the likeness much approvd on – and with a good Air. – also a Moddel of the Queen vastly like. Tho’ not done from the life’. The resulting terracotta models, which are signed and dated 1738, can now be seen at Kensington Palace (RCIN 1411-1412). 

In 1739 Vertue recorded that ‘two Marble Bustos the one of his present Majesty from a Model done from the life by MrRysbrack – and another busto of the lat Majesty Q. Caroline both were erected in the New Library at St. James, Green Park’.

Text from the Royal Collection website









Photographs from the Royal Collection website see -

https://www.royalcollection.org.uk/collection/31322/george-ii-1683-1760


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George II
Studio of Michael Rysbrack
unsigned 
Marble Bust
Height81.8cms

Currently located in St Georges Hall Windsor Castle
Royal Collection

Presented in June 1817 to the Prince Regent by Mrs Lloyd
Originally located on the Grand Staircase at Carlton House






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George II
Michael Rysbrack
Terracotta Bust
signed and dated 1738.

Height 57.6 cms
Royal Collection.

Currently in the Presence Chamber Kensington Palace along with its pair of Queen Caroline.

This bust along with that of Queen Caroline was perhaps that sold at the Rysbrack sale at his studio on 14th January 1767: Lot 57 (although described in the catalogue as George I) after the life 1738, a comment scribbled in the margin of a copy of this catalogue says ' seemed to be the models of the busts in Queen Carolines Library in Green Park'

A terracotta bust of George II, facing half to the left, with a long curled wig and a laurel wreath upon his head, wearing a cuirass, with lion's mask shoulders, the Great George, a Garter star on his left breast, and a high stock around his neck. 

This is one of a pair of portrait busts made by the Flemish sculptor working in England, John Michael Rysbrack. They were ordered for Queen Caroline, King George II’s consort and were commissioned for the decoration of her new library at St James's Palace which had been designed by the English architect William Kent. 

This is the terracotta model for the final marble version which is also in the Royal Collection (RCIN 31322). Rysbrack portrays George II as a powerful classical hero and also wearing a medallion of the order of the Garter, the highest English insignia, established in the fourteenth century. 

The second bust in the pair portrays Queen Caroline (RCIN 1411 and 1739) and it is thought to have stood above the library’s door also at St James’s Palace.

Provenance -

Bought by Queen Mary at the dispersal of Lord Hatherton's collection of Rysbrack terracottas by Spink in 1932. They were bought by his ancestor, Sir Edward Littleton, for Teddesley Hall.

This text above from The Royal Collection website see -


https://www.royalcollection.org.uk/collection/1412/king-george-ii-1683-1760






Photograph from the estimable Royal Collection website -



Queen Caroline (1683 - 1737).
Terracotta 
Signed and dated 1739.

Queen Caroline was born on 1/11 March 1683, under the name of Wilhelmina Charlotte Caroline of Brandenburg-Ansbach. Her native principality may have been one of the smallest of the Empire, but her family, the House of Hohenzollern, was one of Germany’s most ancient and ambitious. Caroline’s early life was obscured by the premature death of her parents, John Frederick, Margrave of Brandenburg-Ansbach (1654-1686) and Eleonore of Sachsen-Eisenach (1662-1696), as well as her step-father, George IV, Elector of Saxony (1668-1694). 

From the age of thirteen, the orphan princess was raised in Berlin, at the court of Sophie Charlotte of Brandenburg, sister of George I. Caroline benefited greatly from the cultivated and intellectual circle of Sophie Charlotte and her mother, the Electress Sophia. The combination of wit and beauty (and the negligible political weight of Ansbach), made Caroline one of the most sought after princesses on the European marriage market. Owing to her deep Protestant faith, she even declined the proposal of the most eligible yet Catholic candidate, future Emperor Charles VI. This remarkable rejection would later be used in Britain to publicise the Queen’s unfailing Protestantism. 

Caroline first met the then Electoral Prince George Augustus of Hanover in June 1705, when he visited Ansbach incognito. George almost immediately sought his father’s approval for the match, which he received soon afterwards. George and Caroline’s relationship appears to have been one of affection and interdependency. Although her influence over the King triggered satire and mockery, he continuously relied on her advice and judgement. The Queen endured the presence of her husband’s mistresses with serene tolerance. On her death bed she thoughtfully advised him to remarry. The King’s promise that he would limit himself to mistresses was met by the Queen’s famous reply: ‘Ah mon Dieu! Cela n’empĂȘche pas!’ A woman of unusual erudition, Queen Caroline was qualified by some of her contemporaries as ‘one of the most learned princesses in Europe.’ Keen to emphasise her affiliation to the British Monarchy in her patronage, the Queen even changed her name from Wilhelmina (as she was known in Germany) to Caroline in order to simplify the pronunciation for her English-speaking subjects. George Vertue provides valuable information on the origin of this bust and another of George II (RCIN 31322). In 1738 he noted that ‘the KING … sat to [Rysbrack] at Kensington twice. to have his picture modelled in Clay. the likeness much approvd on – and with a good Air. – also a Moddel of the Queen vastly like. Tho’ not done from the life’. The resulting terracotta models, which are signed and dated 1738, can now be seen at Kensington Palace (RCIN 1411-1412). In 1739 Vertue recorded that ‘two Marble Bustos the one of his present Majesty from a Model done from the life by MrRysbrack – and another busto of the lat Majesty Q. Caroline both were erected in the New Library at St. James, Green Park’. 

The busts probably stood in niches over the fireplaces at either end of the double-cube interior, while Rysbrack’s terracotta kings and queens rested on high brackets along the side walls. The two portraits, though properly a pair, are yet distinguished both by the fact that one was made posthumously and the other ‘from the life’, and by the costumes. The King wears the laurels of victory and is dressed in armour, albeit markedly old-fashioned in style. The Queen by contrast wears robes of state, with strings of pearls threaded through her hair and a high, jewelled diadem notable for its resemblance to those habitually portrayed on the goddess Juno. 

The likeness depends in almost every detail on her portrait in profile by the painter Joseph Highmore (RCIN 406035) which must have been placed at the sculptor’s disposal. A further terracotta version of Queen Caroline’s bust (Amsterdam, Rijksmuseum) belonged to her daughter Anne, Princess Royal, and was recorded at the Stadholder’s court in Leeuwarden in 1764. 

Text adapted from The First Georgians: Art and Monarchy 1714 - 1760, London, 2014

Text above from Royal Collection website see 

https://www.royalcollection.org.uk/collection/31317/caroline-consort-of-george-ii-1683-1737



In 1735, Queen Caroline of Ansbach, King George II’s consort, commissioned John Michael Rysbrack, to create a series of busts of English sovereigns, of ‘all Kings of England from William the Conqueror’, for her new library at St James’s Palace, designed by William Kent. Rysbrack only produced terracotta busts of 11 Tudor and Plantagenet monarchs. Queen Caroline's early death in October 1737 prompted her husband, George II, to abandon the project.

The Bustos in Marble of all the Kings of England from William the Conqueror, which was reported in The Gentleman's Magazine, 30th June 1735.

'Her majesty has ordered Mr Risbrack to make the bustos in Marble of all the Kings of England from William the Conqueror in order to be placed in her new building in the gardens at Richmond'.

Vertue reports - In June 1735 Queen Caroline 'made a visit to Mr Rysbrake to see his works and especially the equestrian statue of K.William in brass that is to be set up in Bristol' and goes on 'also the busts of Marble of Kings and Queens done lately by him to adorn some palace. upon her seeing K. James I face she turned about and said si il me semble a une boureau I wont have that done, she said, one may guess she forgot from whence her succession came and also, lyes or what had been ingrafted or told her about that king.

Of the eleven terracotta busts that Rysbrack completed for Queen Caroline’s library at St James’s Palace only three survive: Edward the Black Prince, Edward VI, and Queen Elizabeth I . (The others were destroyed, and a fourth - the bust of Elizabeth of York, partially damaged, in 1906 when the shelf on which they stood collapsed. The busts had been moved to the Orangery at Windsor Castle in 1825 when Queen Caroline’s library at St James’s Palace in Westminster was demolished.


see my previous post -

http://bathartandarchitecture.blogspot.co.uk/2015/08/the-terracotta-busts-by-rysbrack-from.html

and the following posts


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George II.
by Michael Rysbrack
1758
Terracotta 
Durham University.



I think it is safe to say that this bust is the bust included in the Rysbrack sale of 20th April 1765
Lot 46 Ditto of his late majesty, given that the pair of terracotta busts of the King and Queen were probably those sold at the Rysbrack sale of 14th January 1767 - Lot 57.









Lot 13 The Two heads in Marble one of Inigo Jones and the other of Nicholas Stone should be noted









Note here Lot 74 the Bronze bust of Oliver Cromwell 
and Lot 75 the Bronze bust of Isaac Newton - pehaps that at the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge.
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George II
Michael Rysbrack
Signed and dated Mich. Rysbrack 1758.
Terracotta.
Durham University.

I am very grateful for the photographs below which were provided by Gemma Lewis, Deputy Curator (Castle and Archeology), University Library Durham.

Reproduced by permission of Durham University.













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Stop Press :The Sotheby / Hodgkin bust sold for £130,000 + premium.
So far the buyers remain anonymous.