Wednesday 24 January 2018

Lead Bust of Matthew Prior by John Cheere Update


A Lead Bust of Matthew Prior by John Cheere - 
Height 53 cms.
A version of the marble bust by Coysevox on the monument of Matthew Prior in Westminster Abbey.

The lead bust now in the Louvre.

This bust was sold at auction by Fraysse in Paris on June 6 2012.

Purchased by Société des Amis du Louvre.

I first posted on this bust and other busts of Prior in this blog on 11 November 2014.

I am currently putting together a study on the busts of John Locke with particular reference to a marble signed by the Victorian sculptor Edward Hodges Bailey inscribed as a copy of a bust by Roubiliac at Magdalen College, Oxford (see below) see also my next post.and an unsigned lead or bronze bust at the Weston Library, part of the sculptural holdings of the Bodleian Library. These two busts also relate to a bronze bust of John Locke after the version by John Cheere currently on the English Art Market

I came across the new references to the bust, illustrated below, whilst looking at at the plaster versions by John Cheere of the bust of Matthew Prior en negligee by Coysevox  at Westminster Abbey.

see my first post  -

I posted this to amuse myself, but also out of devilment - it seemed amazing to me at the time that someone would purchase a (misidentified by the auctioneer as Hyacinth Rigaud) English, lead bust in Paris for so much money (97,000 Euros + premium of 24%).

It took me a couple of years to find the time to create this post.

One also has to ask - who was the underbidder? was there an underbidder?

This lead bust of Matthew Prior is now in the Louvre, having entered the collection in 2016.

see -

see also -

This last post was re edited after my posting in 2014 - giving the impression that the author knew the subject of the bust shortly after the sale.

Posted on Twitter Ist September 2016.

Hindsight is a marvellous thing!


The plaster and lead busts by John Cheere, illustrated here are all distinguished by the distinct style of the treatment of the embroidery work on their waistcoats.

Lead Statuette of Matthew Prior
Height 55 cms
Victoria and Albert Museum
Here attributed to John Cheere.
Bought by Dr Hildburgh from Sotheby's 24 July, 1931.

The depiction of the embroidery on the waistcoat is again indicative of the work of John Cheere.

The Westminster Abbey bust of Matthew Prior by Coysevox.

An interesting feature of this bust is the depiction of the brocading on the turban - a feature repeated on the lead bust by Cheere.


Matthew Prior (1664–1721)

Matthew Prior
Jonathan Richardson the Elder
Oil on Canvas - 124.5 x 100.5 cms
A gift from Lord Harley 1723.

Bodleian Library, University of Oxford
A big thank you Dana Josephson for pointing out this painting to me.

Plaster busts of Matthew Prior 43 cms, and Edmund Spenser 44.5 cms (identified by Sotheby's as Shakespeare).
Sold by Sotheby's, London -7 Dec 2010.

Here attributed to John Cheere.

The bust of Spenser is after a marble by Peter Scheemakers, one of a set of four busts of Shakespeare, Spenser, Dryden and Milton once in the possession  Frederick Prince of Wales - given by him to Alexander Pope, and bequeathed by Pope in 1743, to Lord Lyttelton. They are still at Hagley Hall, Worcs.

see my previous post -


A Plaster Bust of Edmund Spenser by John Cheere, Wren Library, Trinity College Cambridge.
Derived from the bust by Peter Scheemakers.
Photograph by the Author.


Bust of John Locke
Magdalen College, Oxford

Inscribed Edward Hodges Bailey.

Inscribed at the back Copied from a bust Roubiliac.
see my next post.


Bust of John Locke 
Bequeathed to the Bodleian by Ethel Locke King in 1956,
approx 60 cms tall with turned wooden socle.

Here attributed to John Cheere

I hope to have much better photographs of this bust soon (watch this space).


Half life size Bust of John Locke at West Wycombe Park.

Photographed by the author.

Much more to follow on the 18th century portrait busts of John Locke.


The photographs below of an excellent, anonymous lead bust at the V & A
again showing the embroidered waistcoat.

Superb Bust of an unknown man.
Height 75.5 cms including socle.

The cast here attributed to John Cheere.