Wednesday 30 August 2023

The Bust of Jerry Pierce by Prince Hoare


The Missing Plaster Bust of Jerry Pierce by Prince Hoare.

Formerly at Bath Mineral Water Hospital.

I have made enquiries - it has disappeared - probably stolen.

I suspect that the original of this bust (see below) was carved by Hoare's very able assistant Joseph Plura.

For a brief overview of Sculpture in Bath in the 18th and Early 19th Centuries see


The images above are from The Paul Mellon Photographic Archive

This an excellent resource for photographs of object where other photographs might not be avaliable.


The Mural  Monument to Jerry Pierce.

Prince Hoare.

 St Swithin’s Church, Walcot. Bath (above).


 Photographs taken by the Author.


Jerry Pearce.

 Marble Bust.

 Prince Hoare.

 Images courtesy The Mercer Art Gallery, Harrogate.

For more on Plura and Hoare see -

Monday 21 August 2023

A Bust of Handel - 1824 - Aide Memoire.

 A Bust of Handel - 1824 - Aide Memoire.

see -

The Terracotta bust.

Rodd, Horatio, fl. 1810-1859.


A catalogue of authentic portraits : painted in oil, on pannel and canvas, miniatures, marble busts, &c. : among them are many of our kings, nobility, literary characters, naval and military heroes, and others eminent in church and state : and several nearly allied to the existing noble families by the most eminent contemporary artists ... : also a few carvings in wood, carved frames &c. and a fine original bust of Handel, by Roubiliac : the whole of which are now offered for sale at the prices affixed / by H. Rodd ...


London : Printed by J. Compton, Middle Street, Cloth Fair, 1824.

Friday 18 August 2023

The Nightingale Monument in Westminster Abbey.


The Nightingale Monument.

Westminster Abbey.

Commissioned in 1758 and erected 1761.

Joseph and Elizabeth Nightingale (d. 1752 and 1731).

A great deal has been written about this most dramatic of the Roubiliac monuments. 

See - Roubiliac and the Eighteenth Century Monument By David Bindman and Malcolm Baker. pub. Yale 1995. 

Until very recently it has only been possible to obtain recent photographs through the official Westminster Abbey channels. I was threatened with ejection on a previous visit - but thankfully common sense has prevailed and they have relaxed their rules and it is now possible to take photographs in the abbey.

I was hampered here - unable to get a very good photograph of the full monument and so I'm adding the official, poor quality website photograph. Why are they so mean spirited (forgive the pun)? Why do the powers that be do this? are they afraid of people making money out of them?


The Roubiliac Terracotta Maquette.

Height 530 x Width 32 cms

Inscribed 1758 / Roubiliac in.

This model was rediscovered in 1870 in the Triforium at the Abbey  It might be the Plann mentioned in a minute dated 13 Feb 1758.

Equally it could be another " design which was sold at the posthumous sale Roubiliac Sale, Friday 14 May 1762, Third day, Lot 71. and possibly again  by a Mr Jackson at Christies Lot 88, 22 July 1807.

Other designs (drawings?) were sold in Nollekens sale of2/5 December 1823, Lot 252.


Watercolour Drawing by Edward Burney c. 1800, in the Victoria and Albert Museum.

The missing jaw bone of Death is clearly visible.

Situated in St Michael’s chapel, off the north transept of Westminster Abbey, is the monument commemorating Lady Elizabeth Nightingale. She was born in 1704, the eldest of three daughters of Washington Shirley, Earl Ferrers and Viscount Tamworth (d.1729) and his wife Mary. Her sisters were Selina, Countess of Huntingdon (d.1791 aged 83) of Chapel fame, and Mary, Viscountess Kilmorey who died in1784. 

On 24 June 1725 Elizabeth married Joseph Gascoigne (1695-1752), son of the Revd. Joseph Gascoigne, Vicar of Enfield in Middlesex. He assumed the surname of Nightingale on becoming heir to his kinsman Sir Robert Nightingale. Of their three sons, Washington, Joseph and Robert, only the first survived his father but then only by two years. She died on 17 August 1731 following a miscarriage caused by the shock of a violent flash of lightning. 

Their child, Elizabeth, survived and later married Wilmot Vaughan, 1st Earl of Lis

The monument by Roubiliac was not erected until 1761.

 “Here rest the ashes of JOSEPH GASCOIGNE NIGHTINGALE of Mamhead in the county of Devon Esqr., who died July the 20th 1752 aged 56. And of Lady ELIZABETH his wife, daughter and coheir of WASHINGTON Earl Ferrers; who died August the 17th 1734 aged 27. Their only son WASHINGTON GASCOIGNE NIGHTINGALE Esqr. deceas’d, in memory of their virtues, did by his last will order this monument to be erected”.


The Nightingale Monument.

Mezzotint, 1806.

Philip Dawe.

Mezzotint. 62.5 x 38.3 cms.


Scratched within the image with the title, and "Pubd by R Pollard June 6 1806 / Roubiliac, Statuary Engraved by P Dawe"

Image courtesy British Museum.


I expect this image is copyrighted if anyone wants to use it be warned - frankly it is such a poor photograph that it is only useful to give the overall impression. The image from a Tuck postcard below is available foc and CCO

To anyone interested please feel free to use my photographs but please credit me and the blog.





Wednesday 16 August 2023

The Roubiliac Ligonier Bust and its recently reunited socle.

The Roubiliac Marble Bust of Ligonier in the Royal Collection 

and its recently reunited socle.

Some thoughts.

This post was prompted by my recent researches into the drawings of the busts in the Harris Museum and Art Gallery Preston and the subsequent reappraisal of my previous posts on the pair of Roubiliac busts Of Ligonier and George II in the Royal Collection in the light of the discovery of the original socle of the bust of George II.


The Nollekens Harris/ Preston Drawing of the bust of Lord Ligonier by Roubiliac.

Image below from the ART UK website.

John First Earl Ligonier (1680 - 1770).

Lord Ligonier.

The socle with the circular plate on this bust is similar to other Roubiliac busts.

For the marble bust of Lord Ligonier in the Royal Collection see my post

The socle here is similar to that used on the Roubiliac Marble Bust of Andrew Fountaine on the monument at Narford, Norfolk (below), and to the marble busts of Andrew Fountaine and Martin Folkes by Roubiliac at Wilton House. Related to the medallions by Dassier

Andrew Fountaine Monument, Narford, Norfolk

Martin Folkes - Marble Wilton House.

The Roubiliac bust of Ligonier also employs the drapery pattern seen in two other late busts by Roubiliac – the bust of Thomas Coke, 1st Earl of Leicester (1697–1759), on Coke’s monument in St Mary, Tittleshall, Norfolk, (see below). 

A plaster version with the standard socle is in the marble Hall at Holkham Norfolk;

The so called Fordham marble bust of Shakespeare in The Folger Library Washington DC. which was perhaps Lot 74, sold on the fourth day of the Roubiliac Sale on Saturday 15th May 1762. Given that there are no marble versions of the terracotta so called Davenant bust of Shakespeare (at the Garrick Club) and the bust donated to the BM by Matthew Maty, extant or mentioned elsewhere it seems a very distinct possibility that this was the Fordham bust.


The Bust of Lord Ligonier.


in the Royal Collection.

John, 1st Earl Ligonier, by Roubiliac 

Provenance - by inheritance to Mrs Lloyd of Gloucester Place, London, by whom presented to George IV on 27 June 1817.

The socle has been replaced. see the image of the stairwell at Carlton House with the busts of Ligonier and George II on their original socles.

Malcolm Baker says Jonathan Marsden that the original socle for the bust of George II has reappeared.

Images here from

Royal Collection Website.


The NPG terracotta of Ligonier by Roubiliac.

18" tall including the socle.


the NPG say -

"NPG 2013 corresponds with the undated marble at Windsor incised L.F.Roubiliac sc. ad Vivum and must be the model. Mrs Esdaile places it possibly circa 1748 but more probably from the last years of the sculptor's life.  

Roubiliac died 1762. Ligonier received the Bath in 1743 but sittings would have been difficult before the end of the war, 1748.

 In 1926 W. T. Whitley discovered a contemporary reference to 'A Bust' of the sitter exhibited by Roubiliac at the Society of Artists 1761 (153) and an entry 3 February 1763 'To paid Mr Roubilliacs bill for £153 11s’has been found in the regimental account kept by Ligonier's agent Richard Cox. [2] 

The payment, which must have been to the sculptor's estate, has been taken to refer to the Windsor marble, but unfortunately the supporting personal ledger where details might have been expected cannot be traced. [3] 

Mrs Esdaile believed the marble was a royal commission; this is prima facie evidence to the contrary. Furthermore, according to Benjamin Justham, inventory clerk to George IV, the Roubiliac busts of Ligonier and George II were presented, 27 June 1817, by a Thomas Lloyd of 112 Gloucester Place, London. [4]


Four plasters and a mould of the bust were in the Roubiliac sale of 1762, lots 11 and 47 of the 1st day, lot 4 of the 3rd day and lots 9 and 17 of the 4th day. [5] These have since disappeared.


Condition: cracks at the base of the shoulders and in front, below the star of the Bath and in the fur above the centre line of the breastplate, have been repaired; an area at the edge of the collar on his left shoulder has been painted in; the tip of his left shoulder is damaged at the back; a few small areas of white visible in some of the valleys of the wig; 19th-century(?) rose-coloured plaster socle now faded.


Collections: bought 1924, from dealer Basil Dighton of 3 Savile Row, W1, and believed by him to be of Lord St Vincent. Mrs Esdaile, however, states that the bust had ‘passed from a dealer in Norwich to the vendor and been called Lord Howe'. 

2. Letter, The Times, 28 December 1926, unpublished, NPG archives.

3. '1st Foot Guards Viscount Ligonier', f.137, archives of Messrs Lloyds Bank (Cox & King’s branch). Kindly verified by Mr M.A. Clancy, cp Whitworth, p.380 and note 2.

4. G. de Bellaigue, letter, 30 March 1972, NPG archives.

5. Esdaile, pp.219-27. [6]


A bust of Lord Ligonier was exhibited by Roubiliac at the Society of Artists in 1761. 

No material was specified suggesting that this bust of Ligonier was most likely to be a terracotta, but it was possibly a plaster.

The Ligonier busts at the Roubiliac posthumous sale.

Three plaster busts were sold at the posthumous Roubiliac Sale at his house in St Martin's Lane on May 12 1762 and the following three days.For a transcript of the complete catalogue see below.

A plaster bust was sold on the first day - lot 11.

The mould was sold on the first day Lot 47.

Third day - Lot 4,  A plaster bust of Ligonier.

Two plaster busts were sold on the fourth day - lots 9 and 17.


The Roubiliac Busts of Ligonier and George II at Carlton House.

Aquatint of the staircase well at Carlton House showing the two busts with their original socles

 From Pyne's Royal Residences, 1819.

Engraver: Thomas Sutherland after Charles Wild. 

Published by: W. H. Pyne, 36 Upper Charlotte Street, Fitzroy Square.


This section is of tangential relevance to the busts in the drawings but here is a convenient place to put these notes and images

A few notes on the original socles for the marble busts of Ligonier and George II.

The socles have been replaced sometime in the 1830's with turned socles with collars inscribed with the names of the subjects, along with several other socles on earlier busts in the Royal Collection such as the Alexander Pope bust by or after Roubiliac.

Jonathan Marsden has recently recorded that the original socle for the bust of George II has reappeared.

 I am very grateful to Sally Goodsir Curator of Decorative Arts of the Royal Collection for informing me of the photograph below which shows the original socle now returned to the Roubiliac bust of George II.

For the Royal Collection photograph of the Roubiliac bust of George II reunited with its original socle which can be found on the Google Arts and Culture website -

The Roubiliac Bust of  George II recently reunited with his original socle.

Royal Collection.

 Roubiliac appears to have adapted the form of socle used in the 17th century on several busts by unidentified sculptors but possibly those by Peter Besnier. A pair of plaster busts from Easton Neston of Lord William and Lady Fermor, the bronze bust of Catherine Murray, Countess of Dysart at Ham House and the bronze bust of Venetia Lady Digby (private Collection) all have socles with volutes on either side.

Malcolm Baker, in an essay in the Burlington Magazine makes the case for the pair of busts being created especially for niches in the Gallery at Ligonier's house in 12 North Audley Street, Grosvenor Square (designed c 1728 / 1730 and attributed to Edward Lovett Pierce) with the socles made to echo the horizontal volutes on either side of the centre tablet of the Kentian chimneypiece. 

I am not convinced I find this difficult to reconcile with the visual evidence. The niches at the ends of the gallery appear too tall and were probably intended to contain statues and the cupboards? either side of the chimneypiece appear to be too small in width.

12 North Audley Street Ground Floor Plan from -


Some earlier Socles with Volutes.

This image from the Paul Mellon Archive.

One of a pair of busts of Charles I and Charles II.

It states stone but I believe they are plaster (to be confirmed).

Still at Euston Hall.

see my post.


Catherine Murray The Duchess of Dysart (d.1649), Ham House, Richmond

attrib. Peter Besnier.

78 cms.

Probably at Ham before 1677.

Bronze Alloy.

Usual poor quality image courtesy National Trust.

The essay on the website is informative.


Bronze Bust of Venetia Lady Digby.

Private Collection.

see my post -


A bust by de Keyser in the Rijksmuseum Amsterdam.

Included here to illustrate the form of an earlier Dutch socle with the volutes on either side of a cartouche.


The Bust of Charles I attributed to Dieussart


A pair of plaster busts from Easton Neston of Lord William and Lady Fermor,
attributed to Besnier (Bennier) d. 1693.

Sold at Sotheby's Easton Neston house sale Lot 12 - 17th May 2005.

Tuesday 8 August 2023

Busts of John Belchier and Matthew Lee by Roubiliac.


The Plaster Bust of John Belchier (1706 - 85).

At the Royal College of Surgeons. Lincolns Inn Fields, London.

a Roubiliac masterpiece paired with the plaster bust of William Cheselden.

and the Marble Bust of Dr Matthew Lee (1694 - 1755).

At Christchurch College, Oxford.

by Louis Francois Roubiliac.

also some photographs of the bust of Cheselden by Roubiliac at the Royal College of Surgeons which has been paired with that of Belchier.

(Post under construction).

I have already written about these two busts (see the links below) but a recent review of the subject lead me to the Paul Mellon Photographic Archive which had been posted whilst I took a three year sabbatical.

My reason for this post is my discovery that the busts of Belchier and Matthew Lee share the same informal dress. First recognised and published in this essay. This technique is unique to Roubiliac, who was occasionally in the habit of adapting prototype busts already sculpted and adding the heads.

I have recently been trawling through the photographs in the Paul Mellon Archive and this has changed some of my perceptions regarding these sculptures. It has also provided me with images which I was unable to obtain from any other on line sources and for this I am very grateful. It is sometimes quite difficult to obtain photographs of objects, particularly those held in private collections! The problem of obtaining permissions and travelling to the location arises more frequently than I would prefer.


The Plaster Bust of Dr John Belchier at the Royal College of Surgeons, Lincolns Inn Fields.

John Belchier, the surgeon of Bond Street and Sun Court, Threadneedle Street, was a mutual friend of Handel and the Alexander Pope.

 John Belchier (1706-1785) who was at Guy's Hospital from 1736 - 68. He discovered at about the time of his Guy's appointment that the vegetable dye madder stained newly forming bone tissue, opening up the study of the growth and development of the skeleton, which was vigorously taken forward by Henri-Louis Duhamel du Monceau and John Hunter, he and was a member of the Court of Assistants at the Company of Surgeons from 1751 to 1785. [Wikipedia]

The Oxford DNB entry is more extensive:  "John Belchier  (bap. 1706, d. 1785), surgeon, the son of James Belchier, innkeeper and bailiff of Kingston, was born at Kingston, Surrey, and was baptized there on 5 March 1706. 

He entered Eton College as a king's scholar in 1716. On leaving school he was apprenticed to William Cheselden, head surgeon at St Thomas's Hospital, London. By perseverance Belchier became eminent in his profession, and in 1736 he was appointed surgeon to Guy's Hospital. In 1732 he was elected a fellow of the Royal Society.  He was a founding governor of the Foundling Hospital, a charity created by Royal Charter in 1739. Belchier was awarded the Copley Medal by the Royal Society in 1737, and his name appears on the list of the council from 1769 to 1772.

Belchier was a founding governor for the Foundling Hospital.

He contributed some papers to the society's Philosophical Transactions. On Belchier's retirement as surgeon of Guy's Hospital he was elected one of its governors, and also a governor of St Thomas's Hospital. He had a reverence for the name of Guy, saying ‘that no other man would have sacrificed £150,000 for the benefit of his fellow-creatures’. In the Gentleman's Magazine for 1743 is the following story:
One Stephen Wright, who, as a patient, came to Mr. Belchier, a surgeon, in Sun Court, being alone with him in the room clapt a pistol to his breast, demanding his money. Mr. Belchier offered him two guineas, which he refused; but, accepting of six guineas and a gold watch, as he was putting them in his pocket Mr. Belchier took the opportunity to seize upon him, and, after a struggle, secured him. (GM, 1st ser., 13, 1743, 50)
A stout but active man, Belchier died suddenly in Sun Court, Threadneedle Street, on 6 February 1785 after returning from Batson's Coffee House. His manservant had attempted to raise his master but was told ‘No John—I am dying. Fetch me a pillow; I may as well die here as anywhere else’ (Wilks and Bettany, 127). He was buried in the founder's vault in the chapel attached to Guy's Hospital."


The terracotta bust of Isaac Newton sculpted by Louis-Fran├žois Roubiliac recently reappeared in the Royal Museums Collection. The bust had been bequeathed to the Society by John Belchier FRS, and the Council Minutes of 18 August 1785 record that Belchier wanted it to be put on public view at the Royal Observatory in Greenwich, the Royal Society already being in possession of a Roubiliac marble bust of Newton.


The black and white photographs below from the Paul Mellon Photographic Archive.

The Belchier Bust here is inaccurately described as terracotta.

I have contacted the curator at the Royal College of Surgeons. This bust is (as I write) currently hidden away in store at the Royal College and is not available to be photographed. I will attempt to obtain permission photograph it in due course.

Currently these photographs are the only ones available to me.


The Two Photographs from Esdaile's Roubiliac. pub 1928.

More recent Photographs of Belchier at the Royal College of Surgeons.

These suggest that the terracotta coloured paint is probably a recent adaptation.

Certainly not something I approve of!

John Belchier (d.1785).

 by Ozias Humphrey (1742 - 1810).

Oil on Canvas.

76 x 64 cms.

 Presented by Henry Watson in 1785 to Royal College of Surgeons.


Perhaps a reference to John Belchier.

In the catalogue for a sale by Christies on 29 March 1805 'of ... Vases, Marbles, etc collected by a Man of Fashion during a recent visit to Rome and Naples', also included 'original models in Terra Cotta, by the celebrated Roubiliac, &c, &c.' 

Lot 118 was described as An original model of the bust of Handel, by Roubiliac, in terra cotta', and it was sold for three Guineas (this bust is probably the Grimsthorpe Castle terracotta bust of Handel). 

The preceding lot, 117, was described as 'Tarquin and Lucretia, a singularly fine model in terra cotta, by the celebrated Roubiliac, undoubtedly, with a glass shade'.

Lot 119 was described as an original model of the bust of Alexander Pope by Roubiliac.

This is the bust now in the Barber Institute bought by the poet Samuel Rogers of St James Place.

 All were consigned by someone named 'Belcher', this is possibly a misspelling of Belchier, the consignor therefore possibly being a relative of the deceased Dr John Belchier (d. 1785), who moved in artistic circles, apparently having an acquaintance with both Pope and Handel, and whose own bust Roubiliac had modelled (model or cast, which is now with the Royal College of Surgeons). 

see my post -

The annotations to the right of the lot descriptions, where the auctioneer has recorded the result of the auction, are incomplete, and do not disclose the name of the purchaser of the bust of Handel, but they disclose that lot 119 (the terracotta bust of Pope) was acquired by one 'Rogers' for five Guineas. (David Wilson). See my post -


An Amusing snippet of conversation - from The English Humourists of the Eighteenth Century by WM Thackery.

" The following authenticated story of our artist (furnished by the late Mr. Belchier, F.R.S., a surgeon of eminence) will also serve to show how much more easy it is to detect ill-placed or hyperbolical adulation respecting others, than when applied to ourselves. Hogarth, being at dinner with the great Cheselden and some other accompany, was told that Mr. John Freke, surgeon of St. Bartholo- mew's Hospital, a few evenings before at Dick's Coffee-house, had asserted that Greene was as eminent in composition as Handel.

' That fellow Freke,' replied Hogarth, ' is always shooting his bolt absurdly, one way or another. Handel is a giant in music; Greene only a light Florimel kind of a composer.' ' Ay,' says our artist's informant, ' but at the same time Mr. Freke declared you were as good a portrait-painter as Vandyke.'

 ‘There he was right,' adds Hogarth, ' and so, by G... , I am, give me my time and let me choose my subject.' "

Works, by Nichols and Steevens, vol. i. 40 pp. 2z6, 237.


John Belchier and Dr Matthew Lee by Roubiliac.

The two busts together illustrating the common features of the informal dress.

This technique of using the same busts but with different heads was a technique unique to Roubiliac. It can be seen with his busts of Jonathan Tyers, Henry Streatfield, and John Ray. He also used the same technique in the busts of the Grande Conde and Oliver Cromwell, see my recent post on the Harris Museum, Preston drawings attributed to Joseph Nollekens of busts in the Roubiliac studio at his posthumous sale.


The Bust of  Dr Matthew Lee by Roubiliac.

in the Lee Building, Christchurch College, Oxford.

Placed in the Anatomy School in 1758.

Matthew Lee was educated at Westminster School and then studied at Christ Church. He subsequently practiced Medicine in Oxford and London and was physician to Frederick, Prince of Wales. 

His will provided a substantial sum (ca. £2300) for a building, a Readership and running costs (the costs of supplying bodies for dissection). 

The little Georgian building, originally known as the Anatomy School, was erected in the School Quadrangle, tucked away to the south of the Hall. It was designed and built at a cost of £1200 in 1766-7 by Henry Keene on the site of the organist's house and became the Christ Church science laboratory.


My original blog post was the first published essay on the subject of this particular bust - peculiarly it is not recorded in the Dictionary of Sculptors in Britain .. Roscoe et al, pub Yale 2009.

Mrs Esdaile states in Roubiliac, Oxford 1928 says 'placed on a bracket below the gallery of the college Laboratory... is thickly covered in paint which effectually prevents the search for a signature'.

I wonder whether here Mrs Esdaile was relying on second hand information.

Currently at the foot of the staircase in the Lee Building, the former Anatomy School, Christ Church College, Oxford now the Senior Common Room.

Placed in the building in 1758 (info from A Christchurch Miscellany, Hiscock, 1946).

This bust went unnoticed by Mrs Poole until she was alerted to it by Mrs Katherine Arundell Esdaile
see page 317, Catalogue of Portraits Oxford... Vol III, Mrs Reginald Lane Poole 1925.

Noted in the lecture room in 1925, now in the hallway on the ground floor.

Mrs Poole says the bust was painted but I am informed there is no obvious evidence.

The bust is very dirty and could do with a gentle wash.

These photographs were provided anonymously - taken under very difficult circumstances with very little light which explains the low resolution - when I contacted the Curator? Kevin McGerty and the members of the Committee of the Senior Common Room at Christ Church I was told that it wasn't possible to get access or be provided with photographs - why??? 

Other members of staff at Christchurch College Oxford, and in particular the Librarians were fantastically accommodating.


The bust of Belchier at the Royal College of Surgeons is paired with the bust of Dr Cheselden.

I have already posted on the subject of the Royal College of Surgeon's Roubiliac Busts.


The Photographs below come from the Paul Mellon Photographic Archive.

This bust is again erroneously described as terracotta and has been repainted a sort of brown terracotta colour which disguises previous damage.

Also wrongly described as by Rysbrack.