Tuesday 31 October 2023

Joseph Browne of Bowlish, Shepton Mallet - the Bust of Pope by Roubiliac - Yale Centre

Post in preparation.

The Yale Centre for British Art Bust of Alexander Pope. 

by Louis Francois Roubiliac.


Formerly in the Collection of Joseph Browne, of Bowlish, Shepton Mallet, Somerset and sold in by Auctioneer  John Gerard of Litchfield Street London in 1791.


Signed and dated by chisel under sitter's shoulder, proper right: "Anno Dom. | MDCCXLI. | L.F. Roubiliac | Scit. Ad vivum"


Inscribed, chiseled on front of socle: 'POPE'; on proper left under sitter's shoulder: 'ALEX. POPE. Nats. LONDINI, | die 8o. junii anno MDCLXXXVIII. | Obiit in vico Twickenham prope | Urbem, die 8o. maii MDCCXLIV"

Eyes cut.

 Yale Centre for the Study of British Art. 

Although signed and dated on the left side underneath rthe drapery  - Anno Dom MDCCXLI  Sc. L.F. Roubiliac ad vivum (1741), there is an inscription in the same manner underneath the right side of the drapery, recording the death of Pope at Twickenham on 8th May 1744, suggesting that this bust was carved and completed posthumously but based perhaps on Popes sitting for the terra cotta in 1741. 

Pope visited the studio of Roubiliac in July of 1741, and reported to Ralph Allen in Bath on the progress of busts for his library.

See Popes Correspondence.

We know that this bust was in the collection of Joseph Browne of Bowlish, Shepton Mallett and sold in


A catalogue of the intire and valuable museum of that well-known collector, the late Joseph Browne, Esq. of Shepton-Mallet, ... Part I. : Consisting of fine Greek, Roman, Saxon, English, and Anglo-Gallic, coins; proofs, pattern pieces, and curious medals of royal and illustrious personages, by Briot, Blandeau, Ramage, Simon, Rotier, Bower,&c. Also his books and coins and medals, a capital miniature, by Cooper, of the Earl of Southampton, set in gold ; a gold repeating watch, by Mudge and Dutton; rins, &c. Which, ... will be sold by auction, by Mr. Gerard, ... on Wednesday, March 16, 1791, and the three following days, at half after eleven o'clock precisely.

see "Proceedings of the Somersetshire Archaeological and Natural History Society" 1907. Available on line at -

Joseph Browne of Bowlish and the Marble bust of Alexander Pope, by Louis Francois Roubiliac.

The sale of the Joseph Browne Collections in 1791 in two tranches by Auctioneer John Gerard of Litchfield Street, London.

Gerard died July 1793.

Joseph Browne ….. This occurs in the catalogue of the sale by auction in 1791 of the museum of curios, paintings, etc., etc., of Joseph Browne, of Shepton Mallet, clearly a great, important, and interesting sale of a wealthy man. The museum, etc., occupied March 16th and three following days; the china 15th April and following day; paintings, coins, etc., 23rd May and five following days; and 5th June came ancient and modern coins, manuscripts, etc.

The catalogue describes the prints and paintings as — consisting of a remarkably fine and curious collection of prints of the Italian, German, Flemish, Dutch, English, and French schools, comprehending the best works by or after Albert Durer, Goltzius, Elsheimer, Hollar, Rubens, Vandyck, Jordaens, Teniers, Rembrandt, Bergheim, Ostade, Visscher, Walker, Faithorne, Loggan, Vertue, Le Brun, Edelinck, Masson, Balechon, etc., etc.

Together with a few capital pictures and drawings by Rubens, Berghem, W ouvermans, Brughell, Potter, Knyp, Both, Ostade, Ferg, etc.,

 and a beautiful marble bust of Alex Pope by Roubiliac.

The catalogue available at Kings College Library - Foyle Special Collections: [Rare books Coll.]          Z999 B81



Dominic Winter Auctioneers, 10 Nov 2021.

Lot 393 - part lots -

14. A catalogue of the entire and valuable museum of that well-known collector, the late Joseph Browne, Esq. of Shepton Mallet, Somerset ... Part I. ... will be sold by auction, by Mr. Gerard ... on Wednesday, March 16, 1791,

15. A catalogue of the entire and valuable museum of that well known collector, the late Joseph Browne, Esq. of Shepton Mallet, Somerset ... Part V. ... will be sold by auction, by Mr. Gerard … on Thursday 2d of June 1791.


1762 -  Auctioneers Prestage and Hobbs.  A Catalogue of a ... Collection of Greek, Roman, Irish and English Coins and Medals [chiefly Belonging to Joseph Browne] ... which Will be Sold by Auction, by Messrs. Prestage and Hobbs ... the 5th of April, 1762. MS. Notes of Prices

Benjamin Rackstrow

 Post under Construction

Benjamin Rackstrow (d.1772). 

Some notes.

From The Walpole Society Journal Vol. 27 - Notes by Horace Walpole...on the Exhibitions of the Society of Artists.... 1760 -.1791.

Transcribed and edited by Hugh Gatty.

Page 86. Additional Notes by Walpole ...

Society of Artists.

1763 (2). Title: April. P. 16: In this exhibition a whole figure of an elderly man sitting, cast in (lead erased) plaister of Paris and coloured, & so very near to life that every body mistook it for real. 

It was removed, on having frightened an apothecary. It was the performance of Rackstrow, Statuary. [This is probably no. 172, in Algernon Graves, p. 207.].



The Busts of Alexander Pope belonging to Lady Luxborough and William Shenstone and Rackstrow.

See - Letters written by the late Rt Honourable Lady Luxborough: to William Shenstone published in 1775

 In a letter From Barrells Hall dated 28th April 1748, she mentions a head of Pope over a chimneypiece (page 22) and having Mr Outing sending Shenstone a bust of Pope made to look like marble, and mentions 4 more busts treated in the same way by Rackstrow for her brother Saint John.

 2 August 1750 she mentions Mr Moore of Warwick (plaisterer) “also to desire him to see your white bust of Pope, for I have a mind to have Lord Bolingbrokes painted the same”

 On Easter Sunday 1748, she wrote -The chimney in my study was not exactly in the middle of the room: which has occasioned my moving it 12” and consequently moving Popes bust to be in the centre. The lines wrote above it are put up again (which, you know, are out of Virgil).

 In another letter from Barrells of 13 August 1750, she mentions Mr Williams (of New Street, Birmingham) who was visiting Shenstone “I desired him not to forget to look at your bust of Pope; hoping he may be able to paint mine of my brother Bolinbroke after the same manner”. (page 215).


Henrietta St John Knight, Lady Luxborough was the half sister of Henry St John, Lord Bolingbroke, a close friend of Alexander Pope and executor of his will.

 She and a group of Poetic friends were known as the Warwickshire Coterie.

 Barrells Hall, Wooten Wawen, near Henley in Arden, Warwickshire. She had been banished there in 1736 by her husband Robert Knight (created Baron Luxborough in 1745), for an indiscretion (probably with poet and clergyman John Dalton. Horace Walpole said they Rhymed till they chimed and never saw her husband again.

Here we have two busts of Alexander Pope mentioned in letters of 1748 and 1750. From these letters there is no doubt that William Shenstone owned a plaster bust of Pope. Lady Luxborough also owned a bust of Pope but she does not make clear what material it was made from -

This bust could be one of the marble busts by Roubiliac. Given the lack of headroom at Barrells Hall, this could have been the small bust or head now at Temple Newsam signed L.F.Roubiliac, ad vivum 1738. 

Currently there is no record of this bust prior to about 1922 when a Mr ARA Hobson suggests that his father GD Hobson (of Sotheby's) acquired it..

 Illustrated in a wall niche at I Bedford Square and illustrated in Country Life in February 1932, sold at Sotheby's 17 Nov 1933 - see Wimsatt -



Roubiliac and John Mealing, Waterman


A Miniature of John Mealing, waterman 

by Ozias Humphrey. 1766.

Exhibited at the society of Artists 1766.

From Notes by Horace Walpole..... on the Exhibitions of the Society of Artists and the free Society of Artists 1760 - 1791

From the Walpole Society Journal.

1766.no 71. A portrait in miniature, good, head of old John, porter of the Academy, this picture was purchased by the King, he had been a waterman, was chosen by Roubiliac for a Model, having been rowed by him to Vauxhall, when he went thither to place his figure of Handel.

[Graves, p. 125, says 'John Mealing, dressed in scarlet lined with fur'. Whitley, p. 370, quotes Walpole 'Good head of Old John, porter of the Academy', and refers to his vol. i, p. 184, where he says that the King bought this picture

Monday 9 October 2023

The Charles Clay Musical Clocks - Repost. 2.


                             The Charles Clay Musical Clocks - Repost. 2.

Catalogue entry from an unknown auction sale -

The Clay Astronomical Clock in the Board Room Treasury Buildings, Whitehall, Westminster.

The Board Room designed by William Kent 1735.

Currently the best photograph I can locate!

"This clock is "evidently the one referred to in an entry of 6th November, 1740, in the Treasury Minute Book: 'Mr. Lowther is to pay out of the King's money in his hands a sum not exceeding £160 for the great clock and all its furniture set up in the Lords' room here, to Mrs, Clay, widow of Mr. Clay who made the same…' A further entry of 4th May, 1742, records a petition from Mrs. Clay for an allowance for keeping in order the Treasury clock in their Lordships' room, which was made by her husband. The Secretaries to the Treasury were to agree with her as to a payment for this service, which they did at £4 per annum." (The Treasury, by Sir Thos. L. Heath, pp. 227–8.)"

Extract and Photograph from British History Online, Survey of London 1931. Plate 23.

1739. Whitehall Treasury Chambers. Mr Lowther is to pay Mr Clay the clock maker £13-2s-0d in full of all his demands for looking after and repairing the Treasury clock 1721 March 25th to 1725 Aug.18th or any time after. (Calendar of Treasury Books Vol.4). - BHO.


A Musical Clock by Charles Clay.

These pages below from Old Clocks and Watches and their Makers, FJ Britten, 1904. Second Edition.

In an Article in The Musical Quarterly - Vol. 5, No. 4 (Oct., 1919), pp. 538-552 by William Barclay Squire entitled  Handel's Clock Music Mr Squire relates how he contacted Percy Webster who assisted Britten with his work who informed him that it had been previously owned by Mr F.A. English of Addington Park, Surrey.


see also - https://www.jstor.org/stable/738126?seq=1&refreqid=excelsior%3A4a2c27228ae398e8893f5d534ee9ee1c#page_scan_tab_contents


The Charles Clay Musical Clock at 
Castletown House, Celbridge, County Kildare, Ireland.

The Clock is 98 tall cms x 81 cms wide.


Provenance -

Believed to have been taken to Castletown by and Katherine Conolly, nee Conyngham (d.1752), the wife of the Speaker of the Irish house of Commons William Connolly (1662 - 1729)

William Conolly was at the time the richest man in Ireland

 Recorded in an inventory in the Grand Entrance and Inner Hall in 1893/4

by descent to Major William Francis Conolly-Carew


Purchased by Desmond Guiness in 1966.

Desmond Guiness had purchased the house in 1967 from a Major Wilson who had bought the house and its collection in 1965.

Bought by the Castletown Foundation in 1975.

The chimes not currently functioning.


Information from Castletown Decorative Arts pub 2011

Office of Public Works Ireland

Very kindly supplied by Celine of the Guides reception at Castletown.


The Temple of The Four Grand Monarchies of the World.

1738. March 2nd. On Thursday last Mr Clay entertained their Royal Highness the Prince and Princess of Wales with his musical machine at their Royal Highness house in St James Square and after having heard the beautiful strains of music was graciously pleased. (Stamford Mercury Newspaper).

In November 1743, Clay's widow advertised 'a most magnificent and curious MUSICAL MACHINE, CALL'D The temple of the four Grand Monarchies of the World (viz. the Assyrian, the Persian, the Grecian and the Roman) founded by Ninus, Cyrus the Great, Alexander the Great and Augustus Caesar. The Musick was composed by Geminiani, Handel and Corelli: and properly adapted to the machine by Mr Geminiani. It performs not only in Concert, but alternatively on several Instruments, in a most surprising manner, exceeding the Performance of the best Hands. Note. The Inside Work may be seen by those who desire it.' 

 This clock was finished by John Pyke, clockmaker to Frederick, Prince of Wales, and its elaborate case included reliefs in silver, based on models by Rysbrack and bronzes representing the seated figures of the four Grand Monarchies modelled by the French London-based sculptor Louis Francois Roubiliac (1702-62). The clock was surmounted by Roubiliac's figures of Hercules and Atlas supporting the globe.

Above Clipping from The Daily Advertiser, 14 January, 1744.

In December 1743 it was available to view at John Pyke's premises at the corner of Brownlow Street, facing Bedford Row near Gray's Inn. It apparently cost more than £4,500.  

The case was a 'noble Structure, a regular Piece of Architecture in the Corinthian Order ... made of fine Ebony, with Mouldings of Brass; its Columns and Entablatures are also of Brass adorn'd with Modilions, Capitals, Bases and other ornaments of Silver in the most elegant Taste. It is supported with a Pedestal of circular Form, made of Curious Wood, with Brass Mouldings, and adorn'd with other Ornaments of Brass, upon which it turns round at Pleasure for the greater Conveniency of the Spectators'.  

This clock was also later acquired for Augusta, widow of Frederick, Prince of Wales. 

The long delay between the completion of the clock and its acquisition for the Royal Collection explains Clay's frustration with the challenge of marketing his musical creations. 

Three days before his death, he 'order'd a Musical Machine, which had cost him about 20 Years Time, and upwards of £2000 to bring to perfection, to be beat to Pieces, and entirely destroy'd to prevent the Expense of the Time and Money of any one who should attempt to finish it after his death'. 

It seems unlikely that Mrs Clay carried out her husband's death-bed wishes. 


The Temple of the Four Grand Monarchies of the World.


 A Charles Clay Musical Clock.

Commenced by Charles Clay and completed by John Pyke.

 in the Rotunda at Kensington Palace.


Acquired by Princess Augusta after 1743.




Excerpt below from Tessa Murdoch, Apollo, November 2013


Bronze mounts by Louis Francois Roubiliac.

All photographs above from the Royal Collection.

The text below is lifted in its entirety from the Royal Collection website for which I can make no apologies. I coudn't do better. I have only created the paragraphs to make this information slightly more digestible.

see - https://www.royalcollection.org.uk/collection/search#/54/collection/1418/floor-standing-clock

A large square and elaborately decorated musical clock, the four dials painted with allegorical scenes - by Amigoni - and applied silver bas-reliefs - by Rysbrack - and a bronze group with Atlas - by Roubilliac - at the top and corners with applied double columns and four bronze sculptures representing four of the monarchies of the world at the base of the clock.

The four faces represent the foundation of the four great empires of antiquity - Assyria, Persia, Greece and Rome.

The creator of the clock, Charles Clay, came from Flockton in the West Riding of Yorkshire. First known when, in 1716, he petitioned the King for a Patent in respect of a repeating device for pocket watches. The application was ultimately unsuccessful following the opposition of the Clockmakers' Company - at a cost to the Company of the not inconsiderable sum of £74 17s. 11d. He arrived in London c. 1720 and set up in premises near St. Mary-le-Strand Church and by 1723 had been appointed Clockmaker to His Majesty's Board of Works in which capacity, in 1731, he made a clock for the gatehouse at St. James's Palace.

The 'Temple of the Four Great Monarchies of the World' was put on display shortly after his death; the clock had been completed by John Pyke, a clock and watch maker of Bedford Row who had been apprenticed in 1710 and admitted to the Freedom of the Clockmakers' Company in 1720.
A newspaper cutting of 31 December 1743 describes the clock 'A DESCRIPTION of a most magnificent and curious MUSICAL MACHINE, CALL'D The temple of the four Grand Monarchies of the World (viz. the Assyrian, the Persian, the Grecian, and the Roman) which were founded by Ninus, Cyrus the Great, Alexander the Great, and Augustus Caesar. Begun by the late ingenious MR CHARLES GRAY, and finish'd y Mr PYKE, Clock and Watchmaker, in Bedford-Row, London. The whole having cost upwards of 45000l. and is to be seen every day at the corner of Brownlow Street facing Bedford-Row, near Gray's inn, London, from ten 0'Clock in the Morning till Seven in the Evening..........
 'The Musick consists of an agreeable Variety of Pieces, composed by the three great Masters Geminiani, Handel and Corelli; and properly adapted to the machine by mr Geminiani. It performs not only in Concert, but alternatively on several Instruments, in a most surprising manner, exceeding the Performance of the best Hands.'

The advetisement continues with a description of the four faces:
'This Temple has four front avenues leading into it, through which you may see the Subjects relating to each Monarchy finely represented in Historical Painting. By Signor Amiconi.
'At the entrance of each Avenue is represented in Sculpture the Genii of the Arts and Sciences as Paintings, Sculpture, Geometry, Musick, Architecture, Arithmetick, and Astronomy, all which Sciences have been used in the building and adorning this Fabrick. They are made of Silver in Alto Relievo, by Mr. Rysbrack and are reposing on a Piece of Architecture in Basso Relievo, made of Brass, in true Perspective; by the Obelisks on which stand eight Deities in Silver, in their respective Attitudes, as having some Allusion to the Subjects of each Piece of Painting. These represent some remarkable Passage in the Lives of the before mentioned famous Founders of these memorable Monarchies.
'The first Piece of Painting represents Ninus setting up his Father's image and using it to be worshipped, making it an awful Asylum for all Sort of Malefactors and granting every Petition made to it, which proved the Beginning of Idolotary. The presiding Deities are Cybele and Saturn; Cybele represents the Earth and is call'd the Mother of all Gods; and Saturn, said to be the same with Noah, was the Ancestor of Nimrod, or Belus, who was the Father of Ninus.

 'The second Piece represents the Tragic Death of Cyrus, the Founder of the Persian Monarchy, by Thomyris, Queen of the Massigetes, a Nation of the Scythians, who having laid in Ambush for him and slain him, cut off his head and before her Attendance putting it into a Tub of Blood, said, Cyrus, now take thy fill of Blood, which thou has always thirsted afters. The Deities that preside here are Mars and Venus. Mars was particularly ador'd by the Scythians, who build him a Temple of Iron; and Venus was adored by the Persians under the Title of Venus Coelestis.

 'The third Piece is the Marriage of Alexander the Great, at Susa, with Statira, the Daughter of Darius. This Hero put an End of the Persian Monarchy, and established the Grecian. The Presiding Gods are Jupiter and Mercury; the former alludes to Alexander's pretending to descend from Jupiter Ammon, the other to the dexterous Genius of the Greeks, who excelled all other Nations at that Time in most kinds of Knowledge and Learning.

''The fourth Piece represents Augustus Ceasar giving Peace to Rome by the Deaths of Brutus and Cassius and the Overthrow of Mark Anthony, after which Augustus was peaceably acknowledge Emperor by the whole Roman People. Here are the images of Apollo and Diana; Apollo's Temple there being one of the riches and beautifullest of all Antiquity.' The original movement, including a musical mechanism, and stand missing. 

Scan of a drawing by Nathaniel Smith, c. 1759.

from an excellent Article by David Wilson entitled -

New Information from the society of Arts: Roubiliac's Model of Hercules and Atlas and Nathaniel Smith's model of St Andrew after Duquesnoy - in the Sculpture Journal volume 16.2 (2007).

The Charles Clay Musical Clocks - Repost. 1.

The Charles Clay Musical Clocks - Repost.

Somehow the original post became corrupted.

 The Charles Clay Musical Clocks - Repost.

Charles Clay (d.1740).

The Mechanical Musical Clocks.

With Sculptural embellishments by Rysbrack and Roubiliac, Paintings by Amigoni and music by Handel.

Also including  here are some notes on clocks made by John and his son George Pyke and Henry Bridge's Microcosm clock movement.

Edited and updated 13 Dec. 2022.

Amigoni (Amiconi) Venetian painter worked in London from 1730 - 1739

Originally from Stockton, Yorkshire Charles Clay trained as a machine watchmaker. 

First noted when he petitioned parliament for a patent for a musical repeating watch or clock - unfortunately the Quaker Daniel Quare who had produced a similar mechanism at the same time opposed Clay's application and was supported by the Company of Clock Makers.

Although there was prolonged litigation (at the considerable cost of £73 -17s - 11d) to the Company from February 1716 until the latter months of 1717, Quare was finally successful in and Clay's petition for a patent was refused.

He was established in near St Mary le Strand by at least 1720, where he remained until his death 20 years later. By 1723 he was appointed Clockmaker to His Majesty's Board of Works, a post he held for the remainder of his life. In 1731 he supplied the clock over the gateway at St James's Palace.

 The 'Temple of the Four Great Monarchies of the World' was put on display shortly after his death; the clock had been completed by John Pyke, a clock and watch maker of Bedford Row who had been apprenticed in 1710 and admitted to the Freedom of the Clockmakers' Company in 1720.

1737. June 16th. Mr Clay's fine musical clock lately raffled was won by Mr Hayley. (Derby Mercury Newspaper).

A List of the Mechanical Musical Clocks by Charles Clay.

1. Museum of the Royal Palace, Beijing, signed and dated 1730.  Organ still in place.
2. Royal Palace, Naples. Signed twice 'Cha: Clay London' and Cha: Clay / Fecit 1730 '. Organ still in place.
3. Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery, 'Being the first made in perfection N ° 1 Cha: Clay London Fecit'. dated 1735 - Organ still in place.
4. The 'Braamcamp' / Braamkamp clock -  c. 1736 - 40 - the Organ is still in place  
Since my writing this post a new blog post has appeared regarding the restoration of this clock, see 

5. Castleton House, Celbridge, Ireland.
6. Windsor Castle, Berkshire, GB. - Organ still in place.
7. Board Room, Treasury Buildings, London.  
8. Kensington Palace, Temple of the Four Great Monarchies, London, 1740, completed by John Pyke. The Plinth is a modern replacement.

Also considered here is a mechanical music clock by Charles Pyke now at Temple Newsam House. Leeds, dated 1765.


The Charles Clay Musical Clock at Beijing.

The Charles Clay Musical Clock at Beijing.

Signed and dated 1730.

Low resolution photograph.

Museum of the Royal Palace, Beijing.


The Charles Clay Musical Clock at Naples.

in the Royal Palace, Naples.

Signed Cha: Clay London and Cha:Clay / Fecit 1730.

It is believed English-born Prime Minister of the Neapolitan Kingdom, Sir John Acton (1736–1810), bequeathed the clock to Maria Carolina, Queen of Naples between 1779 and 1798. 

The dial plate features a near identical relief to the Beijing Apollo clock (see above).


The Charles Clay Musical Clock at Birmingham Museum.

Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery.

7' 7" tall overall.

A small weight driven pipe organ is housed inside and is operated by a tune barrel, which
is engraved as follows, ‘Being the first/made in perfection/N: 1 Cha: Clay London Fecit.’

The small dial is exactly the same as those on the Beijing and Naples Clocks (see above).

Signed and Dated 1735.

Acquired from the collection of Lord Burnham at the sale of the contents of Hall Barn House, Buckinghamshire in September 1969.

The original repertoire still remains engraved on the scroll, which is held by the gilt bronze
winged figure that surmounts the case. 
The right arm of the figure was used to select
the tune. 
The scroll reads: Sonata/Traveste /Aria/Gavotta/Traveste/Arieta/Arieta/

Evidence suggests that the original music shown on the scroll was
written by Handel.


The Gerret Braamkamp Musical Clock by Charles Clay.

from the collection of Gerret Braamkamp (1699 - 1771).

c. 1736 - 40.

Signed C. Clay on the dial. and Cha. Clay London on the Cylinder.

Sold at the Robert de Balkany Sale 2016 to the Museum Speelklok.

Gerrit Braamcamp, Distiller, timber merchant, shipbuilder and art collector.

Frontispiece to Le Temple des Arts ou Le Cabinet de M Braamcamp by M. de Bastide.
Amsterdam 1766.

Engraving Reinier Vinkeles after Jacob Xavery.

213 x 153 mm.

for the remarkable collection of Gerrit Braamcamp see -