Friday 30 March 2018

Richard Miller Terracotta at Queen's College, Oxford and Marble in the Vestry of St Martin in the Fields by Michael Rysbrack

Richard Miller. (c.1652 - 1724).
The Marble and Terracotta Busts.

by Michael Rysbrack (1694 - 1770).

The terracotta bust signed and dated  MICHL. RYSBRACK. 1726/7.
at Queens College, Oxford.

The subject of this bust is something of a mystery - the extracts provided below tell us as much as we know.

He is recorded in the Album Benefactorum of Queen's College, Oxford in 1716 - 17 as donating £100 towards the building of the Chapel.

He was also a great benefactor to the Parish of St Martin's in the Field Westminster providing £500 for the Charity Schools, £300 for the Free School and Library and £300 for the building of the Vestry House.

In his very short Will (Prob 11 / 600) written 4th October 1718, Richard Miller of South Hinksey, left to his daughter Mary, his tenanted house in St Thomas Parish, Oxford he also bequeaths her all his goods and chattels - to his other daughter and son Matthew he left one shilling!


I am very grateful to Graeme Salmon of Queens College, Oxford for permission to photograph this bust and for his enthusiastic welcome and assistance when visiting Queen's College.

The marble bust is in the Vestry of St Martin's in the Fields, Westminster.

I am also very grateful to Helena Tarrant, Church Coordinator at St Martin's in the Fields for obtaining permission to photograph the marble and for all her assistance, particularly for finding a ladder so that the bust could be inspected at close quarters.

Also thanks are again due to Dana Josephson for suggesting and aiding me with this project.


There are brief notes and photographs of the two busts in Michael Rysbrack, Sculptor by M.I. Webb pub. Country Life, 1954.

The terracotta bust  at Queen's was formerly mistaken for a bust of  Sir Christopher Wren and prior to that to as a bust of Voltaire.

The relationship between these two busts was first noted in an article by Katherine Esdaile in The Architectural Review of 1944.

The terracotta is possibly the bust mentioned by the engraver and diarist George Vertue (1684 - 1756) in 1732 as Muller.   - see Vertue III, 56 - Walpole Soc. Journal.


The Terracotta Bust and Marble Busts of Richard Miller
Queens College, Oxford.


All photographs taken by the author.

Extract from The Gentleman's Magazine Vol 60 part I, 1790.


Extract below from Catalogue of Portraits in the Possession of the University, Colleges, City and County of Oxford. Mrs Reginald Lane Poole, Vol II, pub Clarendon Press, Oxford. 1925. refering to the terracotta bust at Queen's College, Oxford.

Library, Queen's College, Oxford, Oxfordshire

The Queens College bust of Miller in the Library
Photography by Henry Taunt, 1906.
Photograph from Historic England Archive


The Marble Bust of Richard Miller by Michael Rysbrack

Currently located above the front door, in the vestibule 
of the Vestry of St Martin's in the Fields, Westminster.

All photographs here taken by the author.
Something of a challenge to photograph this bust - very little light.
Fortunately Helena Tarrant of St Martin's was able to commandeer a set of step ladders.


Richard Miller (c.1652–1724), Benefactor

Richard Miller
Oil on Canvas
123.3 x 100 cms
Queen's College, Oxford.
Given by the Sitter.


Richard Miller lived at South Hinksey, Oxford and gave £100 towards the Queen's College building programme. 

The inscription on the back of the canvas, which has been relined probably in the nineteenth century, may be a copy of some original inscription erroneously transcribed as 'T. Weurzag Se' and which Poole interprets as standing for 'T Murray Fecit'. 

The attribution to Murray has been challenged.

Image and info here from Art U.K.


Mrs or Miss Mary Miller

Mrs or Mary Miller.
daughter of Richard Miller.
attributed to Jonathan Richardson (c. 1665 - 1745).
Oil on Canvas.
125.5 x 101cms.

before 1724.
Queen's College, Oxford.
Given to the College by Richard Miller.

Image from Art U.K.


View of the West Front of the Parish Church of St Martin's in the Fields, Westminster before demolition and replacement.
George Vertue

The Vestry House is on the left hand side, on the North side of St Martin's Place.

Image Courtesy British Museum


St Martin's in the Fields.
View of the South and West Fronts.
Image - British Museum.

The Vestry House to the lefdt is on the North side of St Martin's Place.

The earliest record of a parish school at St. Martin's is an entry in the churchwardens' accounts for 1571: "payd to geyls quarrell for setinge the scolhowse wyndowe & for vj newe q'rels iijs ijd." Ben Jonson received his early education at this school, which was probably situated beside the church. In 1614–15 a new schoolhouse and vestry room was built adjoining the church on the south side. This building is shown in Vertue's drawing of the old church .

 The Vestry met in the upper room, the school being housed on the ground floor until 1693, when the scholars were transferred to Archbishop Tenison's school (see p. 113). The old schoolroom was used as a session house from 1706 until the church was pulled down. A new vestry hall was built at the south-east corner of the churchyard in 1728, and demolished in 1828. 113–4).

The buildings in St. Martin's Place which comprise the Vestry Hall, Vicarage, and National Schools were erected circa 1830 as part of the Charing Cross improvement scheme. The façade of the schools bears the inscription "St. Martin's National Schools. Built by Subscription on Ground the Gift of His Majesty King George IV. MDCCCXXX." (fn. n1) By the deed of grant, dated 20th July, 1833, the Crown conveyed to the Vicar and Churchwardens a piece of ground on the north side of the churchyard 98 feet by 28 feet together with the school building lately erected there to be used as a National School for the education of poor children of the parish. A nominal rent of £1 per annum was to be paid.

St Martin's in the Field was designed by James Gibbs.

The foundation stone of the church was laid on 19th March 1722 and the church was completed in December 1724.

St Martin's in the Field from the West with the King's Mews in the foreground
This was replaced by the National Gallery in 1834.

It is my intention to treat St Martin's Lane, the epicentre of the London Art world in the mid 18th century, much more thoroughly in the future.

John Michael Rysbrack (1694–1770), Sculptor

Michael Rysbrack.
attributed to the circle? of Jonathan Richardson.
c. 1730.
Oil on Canvas 74 x 64.1 cms.

Victoria and Albert Museum

Image from Art U.K.


Tuesday 20 March 2018

Westminster School Bust of Locke perhaps after Roubiliac

John Locke 
Marble bust.

Perhaps after an original by Roubiliac
Westminster School.

This post is part of an ongoing investigation into the 17th and 18th Century Portrait Sculpture at Oxford and Cambridge Universities.

Readers of this blog will know that I have recently posted extensively on the lead bust of Locke by John Cheere at the Bodleian Library and the marble bust by Edward Hodges Baily at Magdalen College, Oxford.

I am very grateful to Elizabeth Wells, Archivist at Westminster School, London for organising our visit to Westminster School, many thanks are also due to Charlotte Robinson, Assistant Archivist at Westminster School for opening doors and guiding us to the sculptures at the school and last but not least many thanks to Dana Josephson for organising the visit and suggesting the Oxford Portrait Sculpture Project to me.

I will be posting shortly on the bust of Dr Richard Busby and Inigo Jones also at Westminster School in the near future.

John Locke 
After Godfrey Kneller
Westminster School,
Westminster, London.


Until the bust of Locke, sold at Sotheby's Lot 148 23 March 1971 (below) reappears this will be my last post on the subject of the portrait sculpture of John Locke.

Image kindly supplied by Merel Dienema of the Sculpture Department at Sotheby's,  Bond Street, London.

It should be noted that the quality of this missing bust is somewhat finer than the other versions of this bust at Kelvingrove Museum, Glasgow, the bust of Locke noted in the collection of Harte Kingston upon Thames in 1987 (info and photograph  in the Heinz Archive, NPG), and the Westminster School bust depicted below. 

Particular note should be taken of the quality of the cutting of the eyes and the stitching on the button holes plainly visible on the Sotheby's bust.


For much more on the busts of John Locke by Guelphi, Rysbrack, Scheemakers and their reproduction by John Cheere see link below and it's the following posts.


John Locke
Height 690 mm. without socle 580 mm.
Perhaps after a lost original by Roubiliac.

As the  Bodleian lead, bust probably by John Cheere (above right) and the bronze bust (above middle) which are both copies taken from a version of the Cheere bust, an example in the Wren Library, Trinity College, Cambridge, currently on the London Art market, at first glance the Westminster marble is an impressive bust but close inspection would suggest that, as those two busts above, it is a coarser version of an earlier (lost or undiscovered) original perhaps by Louis Francois Roubiliac, from which the bust by Edward Hodges Baily which is inscribed  "Copied  by EH Baily from the original by Roubiliac" is derived.

Illustrated below is the Westminster School bust alongside the lead and plaster busts here ascribed to John Cheere of Hyde Park Corner. 

Cheere appears to have adapted busts of several famous busts by contemporary sculptors such as Roubiliac, Rysbrack and Scheemakers to produce his own versions - he seems to have been especially fond of adding embroidered waistcoats popular at the time - these include busts of Alexander Pope, Frederick Handel and Isaac Newton such as those at West Wycombe Park, Buckinghamshire.

As far as we know Cheere only supplied plaster or lead sculpture and did not supply marble busts.


Wednesday 7 March 2018

Chantry's Workshop Bronze Foundry

Sir Francis Chantrey.
His Workshop and Bronze Foundry.
with a Statue of William Pitt the Younger.
Eccleston Place, Pimlico, London.
Graphite Drawing by George Scharf (1788 - 1860).

George Scharf arrived in England in 1816.

This is probably the earliest true to life representation of  sculptors foundry in England

If I had an infinite amount of time on of the first things I would do is to create another blog alongside my other blogs, devoted to the drawings and paintings of George Scharfe.

Probably the finest artist to capture images of an old London that was rapidly disappearing, before the advent of photography, not the great architectural set pieces but a London occupied by real people going about their daily business.

Workshop and Foundry of Sir Francis Chantrey,

Showing Statues of William Pitt the Younger and George IV
and a piece mould on the trolley waiting to be dismantled.
George Scharf
Graphite Drawing
291 x 234 mm
British Museum.

I will post on bronze founding in England in the 17th and 18th Centuries in due course.

In the meantime I have touched on the subject here -


Sunday 4 March 2018

Bust of Isaac Newton in the Bodleian Library - probably not!

This post updated 17 August 2023 with a few thoughts on the portrait sculpture of Edward Capell by Roubiliac.

The Marble Bust of the so called Isaac Newton.
in the Bodleian Library, Oxford.

Anonymous sculptor.

Formerly attributed to Joseph Wilton (1722 - 1803).

Height 50 cms.

Acquired by the Bodleian Library in 1762.

see Bodleian Day Book.

This bust is a conundrum.

It bears no relation to other sculptures of Newton or to any painted or engraved portraits.

Does it represent Isaac Newton?

I am going to make a suggestion that will probably be dismissed

Is it Edward Capell by Roubiliac.

There were two busts (perhaps portrait reliefs) in the posthumous sale at the Roubiliac Studio in St Martin's Lane.

Lot 20. Mr Capel, Plaster Bust or perhaps a relief. (Edward Capell {1713-81} known from engravings by Bartalozzi and Anker Smith at the BM).

Lot 77. ---- Capel. Terracotta, Bust  (known from engravings by Bartalozzi and Anker Smith at the BM).

The closely cropped hair is unusual in a bust of this date - what is most instructive here is the form of the ear.

This goes a long way to convince me.


There is a superficial resemblance to other busts of Newton particularly in the square shape of the jaw - but there is another bust of Newton which has been attributed to Wilton by Malcolm Baker - currently in a private collection? see photograph below which bears no resemblance to this bust.

Garlick says that it was believed to be based on a portrait by Enoch Seeman I can find no evidence for this.

This post is one of an on going series depicting the portrait sculpture at Oxford University.


Image result for Joseph Wilton bust

Bust of Isaac Newton.

attrib. to Joseph Wilton.

Presumably the version sold by Christie's in 1991.

Current location unknown.

Joseph Wilton was born in London, but trained in the Netherlands, France and Italy from 1744 to 1755. 
He was appointed Statuary to His Majesty George III in 1761, and in 1768 became a founder member of the Royal Academy. However in the same year he inherited a large legacy from his father and neglected sculpture thereafter; he was bankrupted in 1793.


Mrs R. L. Poole, Catalogue of Portraits in the possession of the University, Colleges, City and County of Oxford, I, p 91, no.227. 

Catalogue of Portraits in the Bodleian Library by Mrs R. L. Poole: completely revised and expanded by K. Garlick, 2004, p 235.

M. Keynes, The Iconography of Sir Isaac Newton to 1800, 2005, A.32, p 90). Keynes mistakenly writes that it is signed and dated.

Described in the Bodleian Day Book 1762 as ‘said to be based on an original portrait by Enoch Seeman’. 

An unidentified ‘bust; a model’ by Wilton was exhibited Society of Artists, London, 1768, no.159, 

and another appeared in Wilton’s sale, Christie’s, 2 June 1779. 

This was possibly that bust sold Christie’s, 2 July 1991, lot 81, catalogued as Roubiliac, this was re attributed to Wilton by Malcolm Baker, see - M. Keynes, The Iconography of Sir Isaac Newton to 1800, 2005, A.33, p 90).

For a very interesting post on the composition bust of William Pitt, Lord Chatham by Wilton at Harvard University Museum  see -


A couple of Busts by Joseph Wilton.

Bust of Leake of  Okeover by Joseph Wilton - private Collection
image from Conway Library

Oliver Cromwell.

Joseph Wilton.

74.9 cms.


Victoria and Albert Museum.

Sir Isaac Newton 
after Enoch Seeman 
engraved by James Macardel