Thursday 8 February 2018

Bust of Locke from Queen Caroline's Hermitage by Guelfi.

The Bust of John Locke (1632 - 1704).
from Queen Caroline's Hermitage.
Giovanni Battista Guelfi (1691 - left England in 1734).

The Hermitage was built in 1731 and demolished in 1775.

Ordered in 1731- put in position in the hermitage shortly before August 1732 (Gentleman's Magazine).

There is no record of a specific payment to Guelfi for the first four busts for Queen Caroline's Hermitage, of Sir Isaac Newton, John Locke, Dr Samuel Clark or William Woolaston but he was paid for the bust of Boyle which completed the project and was placed in the grotto before April 1733 (Gentleman's Magazine).

 He received £68 by the Paymaster of Richmond Old Lodge "for the busto of the Honbl Robert Boyle in statuary marble with a neck of veined marble & for carriage & for repairing the antique statue of Venus"

George Vertue in his notebooks III wrote in 1731 "Four busts of stone are to be made by Snr Guelphi a sculptor for the Richmond Sr I Newton, Lock Dr Clark and Mr Woolaston. This Sg Guelpha works under the direction of Mr Kent at the house of Lord Burlington"

Francis Walsingham wrote in the newspaper the Free Briton, no 195, 16 August, 1733, praising Queen Caroline as a patron of the arts and in particularl sculpture "her peculiar affection to this country whilst Bacon and Boyle Sir Isaac Newton and Dr Clarke, Lock and Wollaston employ the hand of Rysbrack and are placed in her majesty's grotto not even her own Liebnitz is allowed a place there"

Three weeks later the Grub Street Journal, no. 193, 6th September 1733, corrected this error pointing out that Walsingham had "made several historical mistakes and one egregious blunder which overturns his whole panegyric and entirely destroys the reputation in the art of statuary. For in order to do honour to Mr Rysbrack he has attributed to him the bustoes in her majesties grotto which unfortunately happen to be the work of another, and as some think a much inferior hand".

Unfortunately George Vertue (notebooks III p. 66) repeats the error made by the Free Briton, listing 6 busts - this has lead to the erroneous assumption that the five busts were made by Rysbrack - although a bust of Bacon was noted in the Free Briton it appears that it was never made.
There is a stone version of the Guelfi bust Newton at Scone Palace left to William Murray Lord Mansfield by Alexander Pope

Rysbrack states in the postscript of a letter of 20 January 1756 to Sir Edward Littleton" Sir I did not make the bust of Dr Clark in the Hermitage. It was done by Mr Ghuelphi an Italian who is dead"

For an in depth look at Queen Caroline's Hermitage and its sculptural program see -

For some reason the myth that MichaelRysbrack was responsible for these four busts and the slightly later bust of Boyle has continued to be promoted despite ample evidence to the contrary; particularly in the actual carving of these busts which bears no resemblance to the very fine work of Rysbrack.

It is surprising that Guelfi managed to remain employed given the poor quality of his work .

Malcolm Baker in The Making of the Wren Library, ed. David McKitterick, Cambridge University Press 1995, repeats this 'egregious blunder'.

Bust of John Locke
John Faber the Younger
345 x 250 mm
British Museum.

John Locke by Guelfi
Height 58 cms excluding the socle.
The socle is 19th Century
c. 1731 - 2.
Now in the Privy Chamber, Kensington Palace.

One of the five busts commissioned from Guelfi for Queen Caroline’s Grotto at Richmond,. 

A plaster in Trinity College, Cambridge, is described as a version of the bust of Locke formerly in the Richmond Grotto (M. Baker, ‘The Portrait Sculpture’ in D. McKetterick ed., The Making of the Wren Library, Trinity College, Cambridge, 1995, p 117n32) but this is erroneous.

He was in good company, Mrs Webb in  Michael Rysbrack, Sculptor pub. Country Life 1954, makes the same error despite publishing the letter from Rysbrack, to Sir Edward Littleton refuting his workmanship (see above).

Milo Keynes in his Iconography of Sir Isaac Boydell 2005 and subsequently Gordon Balderston in the Sculpture Journal of 2008, both present the evidence that the busts for Queen Caroline's Hermitage were definitely by Guelfi and not by Rysbrack.

So that there can be no mistake - this photograph illustrates that the bust from Queen Caroline's Hermitage is nothing like the plaster bust in the Wren Library.

The terracotta prototypes of the busts made for Queen Caroline's Hermitage were once owned by William Kent who bequeathed them to Lady Isabella Finch - unfortunately they have now disappeared.


John Locke.
Michael Rysbrack
Portland Stone.
in the Temple of Worthies Stow House, Buckinghamshire.


John Locke
Michael Rysbrack
Terracotta bust.
c. 1755.

This is perhaps a prototype for the full length marble at Christ Church College, Oxford
(see my next post).


John Locke
attributed to John van Nost I.
Early 18th Century.
Lead on stone socle.
Height 73.7 cms.
Yale Centre for British Art, Paul Mellon Collection

Included here to illustrate the closeness to the Rysbrack terracotta.

Some Plaster Busts of John Locke by and after John Cheere

Some Plaster Busts of John Locke 
by and after John Cheere.

This post is part of a much wider study into the portrait sculpture at Oxford University, with particular reference here to the lead Cheere type bust of John Locke at The Bodleian Library and the marble bust after Roubiliac by Edward Hodges Baily at Magdalen College, Oxford.

I am very grateful to Dana Josephson for suggesting the project and for all his assistance.

I would also like to thank Dr Nicolas Bell of the Wren Library, Sir David Clary, Lady Heather Clary and Rachel Mehtar at Magdalen College Oxford and Stephen Hebron of the Weston Library for making thse posts possible.


 The Wren Library, Trinity College, Cambridge, Plaster bust of John Locke.

Probably by John Cheere.

Height approx 60 cms. without the socle.

This bust is one of  the set of 26 plaster busts supplied and now consisting of 12 ancient and 11 modern authors all placed on top of the bookcases in the Wren Library.

I will be posting in much more depth on this set of busts almost certainly by John Cheere in due course.

Gifted to the Library by Dr Francis Hooper.

The Wren Library plasters were probably supplied by John Cheere some time after 1753 - they are noted in a guide of 1763. Unfortunately there is no record of their purchase

There are also two painted wooden busts of Anacreon and Ben Jonson on top of the bookcases at the Wren Library, these are possibly from an earlier scheme and attributed to Grinling Gibbons; and two later plaster busts one of  Dr Francis Hooper, by an unknown sculptor and the other of Professor Richard Porson by Giovanni Domenico Gianelli, dated 1808.

2. The Bodleian Lead bust and the Wren Library Plaster for comparison 
see my previous post.

All photographs by the author with grateful thanks to Dr Nicolas Bell of the Wren Library


John Locke
Cheere type.
Plaster bust.
About half life size.
West Wycombe Park.

Although not visible in these photographs the socles of all these busts have a raised panel on the front.

One of a set of four busts of Milton, Pope, Newton, and Socrates.

I will post more details and photographs of these busts in the future.
Photographed by the author.

With many thanks to Sir Edward Dashwood for allowing me access and to photograph the sculpture at West Wycombe Park.


A Smaller version of the Cheere type bust of John Locke.

Plaster bust of John Locke
Cheere type
overall height 53.3 cms

Attributed by the Museum to John Cheere.
Yale Centre for British Art, Paul Mellon Collection.

This type of plaster busts is very difficult to date without a firm provenance.
This could easily be one made by an Italian immigrant plaster caster from the Leather Lane area
in the mid 19th century London. In this case I think the panelled socle and open back are consistent with 18th century manufacture. It would benefit from having thee thick over painting removed.

A bust of Locke by Richard Parker c.1770 was at Ashburnham Place, among a set of library busts based on works by Roubiliac and Rysbrack. 

This information from - needs to be verified.


Charles Harris of the Strand Catalogue of 1777.
showing a bust of Locke - 24 inches (Pouces)

For a complete copy of the catalogue see my post -


Shout of Holborn Catalogue of c. 1801 - 24 showing that they supplied busts of Locke in at least two sizes.


John Locke
Probably 19th Century.
The Vyne Hampshire 
National Trust

From their website no size given

Images - The Vyne © National Trust / Mark Scott.


John Locke
Plaster Bust

Victoria and Albert Museum

Another of the smaller Cheere type busts


John Locke
Plaster Bust
Cheere Type with embroidered waistcoat.
Life Size.
supplied in 1830 at a cost of £1. 10s.
Inscribed Sarti
Athenaeum Club, London.

For much more on the series of  Busts by Sarti at Athenaeum Club in a piece by John Kenworthy Brown see -


John Locke
Plaster Bust
Wimpole Hall, Cambridge
Inscribed Sarti
c 1830


John Locke
Bronzed Plaster
Life Size

One of a set of four - Locke and Milton as the Wren Library Plasters, Newton after Rysbrack, Dryden after Scheemakers .

John Kenworthy Brown says that these busts are first Listed on an inventory of 1782.

Kenworthy Brown has done a very thorough job of researching the Plaster busts by Pietro Sarti at the Athenaeum Club see -


Hopefully the reference in the inventory of 1782 has not confused these busts with the smaller busts of Milton, Pope, Newton and Socrates also at West Wycombe (see above).

This reference needs to be confirmed - the socle with the eared support seen here (which is based on a classical precedent, much used by Cavaceppi and later by Joseph Nollekens, appears on the later plaster busts by Shout of Holburn and Sarti (the Atheneum Busts were supplied in 1830).

It would be useful to know when this form of socle and base started to become current in English busts and might be useful for dating plaster busts without provenance.

Notable on this bust is the missing embroidery on the waistcoat.

Awful photograph taken by the author in almost complete darkness!


The Studely Royal Plaster busts with a bust of Locke over the doorcase.

Currently no direct evidence but this series has Cheere type busts with the early panelled square based socles

Inigo Jones
Unidentified possibly a version of Fletcher or Ben Jonson.
Alexander Pope

Studeley Royal, Yorkshire, country house destroyed by fire in 1946.

Image from Country Life Images.


John Locke
Plaster bust
Inscribed Shout of Holburn

at Sudbury Hall, Derbyshire.

Sudbury Hall © National Trust / Ian Buxton & Brian Birch

For more on the Scheemaker busts of Locke see my later post.

The Wedgwood Busts of Locke
Just to confuse there are two distinct types

John Locke 
Cheere type
Wedgwood Black Basalt.
Mid 19th Century.

Wedgwood and Bentley List of Busts 1777.
including the bust of Locke.


John Locke
Wedgwood and Bentley
Black Basalt
Height 242 mm.

Incised mark Locke, Wedgwood and Bentley

Information and photograph from - The Wedgwood Museum.
see -


The Source for this bust appears to be an unsigned ivory attributed to David Le Marchand in the Thompson Collection in the Art Gallery of Ontario.(below).

John Locke attributed to David le Marchand.
Height 18.5 cms.

Image from -

 For an in depth study of le Marchand see - Charles Avery - David le Marchand, 1674-1726: 'an ingenious man for carving in ivory', pub. Lund Humphries, London, 1996.

The  Ivory bust of John Locke by Le Marchand,
215 mm.

This photograph was taken when the bust was lent to the Victoria and Albert Museum for study in 1936.

The pair to Rapers bust of Newton by le Marchand.

Provenance: The Raper family, Alfred Morrison, Mrs Michael Wright, 3 Barton St London, SW1. (1936).

Now paired with the bust of Isaac Newton.
20 cms
Purchased from Alfred Speelman in 1953
Collection of Lord Thompson of Fleet.
Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto, Canada.


John Locke
John Cheere type
57 cms

The nose has received some surgery

Sold at Lyon and Turnbull Auction.
Lot 196 ,  31st January, 2018.

Images kindly supplied by Lyon and Turnbull.


John Locke 
19th Century Plaster bust.
Inscribed on the back L. Bruciotti, Leather Lane, 1853.
Height 58.5 cms

Westenholz Antiques.

Bruciotti was one of several Italian manufacturers of plaster casts of variable quality who lived in the Leather Lane area of London in the mid 19th century.

Photograph from -