Thursday, 15 March 2018

Busts of Charles I - A Few Notes

The Portrait Busts of Charles I - 

Some Photographs and a Few Notes.

In no particular order.

These will eventually form part of a study into the portrait busts and Statues of Charles I
with particular reference to the Bronze Bust of Charles I by Hubert Le Sueur in the Bodleian Library,  Oxford, the plaster bust of Charles I after Le Sueur in the Library at St Johns College, Oxford and the full length bronze statue of Charles I and Queen Henrietta Maria in the Canterbury Quad also at St Johns College, Oxford.

A Pair of Bronzed Plaster busts
Private Collection 

Formerly in the collection of Rupert Forbes Gunnis  (1899 - 1965).
Collector and Historian

Rupert Gunnis wrote the excellent The Dictionary of  British Sculptors 1660 - 1851, pub. Abbey Library 1951, and revised and updated in 1968.

Rupert Gunnis "revolutionised the study of British sculpture, providing the foundation for all later studies on the subject" Tim Knox.

Mrs Katherine Esdaile (d. 1950). thought them to be by Francois Dieussart (d. 1661) but recently it has been proposed that they are by Peter Besnier, who we have already touched on in this blog.

In 1947 Mrs Esdaile had suggested that Gunnis bequeath them to the Victoria and Albert Museum and Terrence Hodgekinson visited Hungershall to inspect these and other sculptures in the collection. 

Ultimately they were rejected but the Museum accepted two signed busts by Nollekens and a bust of 'the unfortunate Admiral Byng' by Scheemakers.

For an excellent article on Rupert Gunnis see  Portrait of a Collector: Rupert Gunnis at Hungershall Lodge and his bequest to the Victoria and Albert Museum. by Tim Knox, The Sculpture Journal Vol. 2, 1998.

Peter Besnier (d. 1693)

Entry below from The Biographical Dictionary of Sculptors available online at -

Peter Besnier (Bennier) - A French sculptor and the brother of Isaac Besnier, who had collaborated with Hubert le Sueur on the monument to George Villiers, 1st Duke of Buckingham, erected in Westminster Abbey in 1634. 

Peter Bennier may have been trained in France but was living in England before October 1643, when he was appointed sculptor to King Charles I. He was required to look after the ‘Moulds, Statues and Modells’ in the Royal collection, a duty previously performed by his brother, in return for the use of a house and £50 pa from the privy purse. 

The Civil War prevented him from taking up his duties and he was deprived of his office during the Commonwealth. At the Restoration he petitioned to be reinstated on the grounds that the late King had granted him the ‘place of sculptor to His Majesty and the custody of his statues, etc, but by reason of the most unhappy distraction befallen since, hee injoyed not the same place, but was reduced into very great poverty and want through his faithfulness and constancy’ (TNA SP 29/2, no 66-1, quotedby Faber 1926, 14). His request was granted on 15 March 1661 (TNA, LC3/25, 113, cited by Gibson 1997 (1), 163) and he held the post until his death, when he was succeeded by Caius Gabriel Cibber.

Bennier is listed as a ratepayer of Covent Garden, 1649-51, and among the Ashburnham Papers is a reference to a tenement occupied by Bennier near Common Street in 1664 (LMA, ACC/0524/045,046,047, 048, cited by Gibson 1997 (1), 163).

 It has been tentatively suggested that he worked for Hubert le Sueur. He signed the monument with a ‘noble’ portrait-bust to Sir Richard Shuckburgh (1) (Gunnis 1968, 50). 

The monument to Sir Hatton Fermor at Easton Neston, Northants, has been attributed to him because the bust is similar to the Shuckburgh one and the two families intermarried. 

In 1655 Bennier was employed at Lamport Hall, Northants, carving shields and ‘pictures’, which were probably statues (Northants RO, IL 3956, cited by White 1999, 11, 12 n 10-11) (2). He also did unspecified work for the crown at Somerset House in 1661-2.

The bronzed plaster busts of Charles I and Charles II in 1965 at Hungershall Lodge, Tunbridge Wells, Kent, the home of Rupert Gunnis.

I hope to obtain better photographs of these busts in the near future.

These busts are very obviously a pair - the socles are very similar to the plaster busts of the Fermors formerly at Easton Neston sold Sotheby's (see below) and attributed to Peter Besnier.

A pair of plaster busts of Sir William Fermor, 1st bt. (1621-1661) and his wife Mary (1628-1670), daughter of Hugh Perry, attributed to Peter Besnier (French, d.1693), 1658.

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

Bought with the aid of an Art Fund grant by Northampton Museum and Art Gallery.
The Sotheby's Catalogue entry for these busts follows below -

He wearing quirass with lions pauldrons and a sash tied on his right shoulder, his hair falling in locks over the breastplate, an old illegible paper label to the reverse; she facing slightly to dexter, her hair styled in deep curls about her bare upper chest and shoulders; each set on integral plaster socles bearing the date 1658 

height  72cm., 28½in.; she 65.5cm., 25¾in.

Photograph Courtesey Sotheby's

see -


Marble bust of Charles I.

Note the similarity with the Socle of the Gunnis and Fermor busts.

dated 1631.

The bust is dated 1631, the first year that Le Sueur was recorded in the King's employ, when he also spent four months in Rome taking casts of ancient sculpture. The sculpture is the earliest datable bust of the monarch by the artist and marks an increasing interest in sculptural portraits in England during the 1630s and 40s.

Probably made for Charles I; other bronze versions are known. Carved in London by Hubert Le Sueur (born in Paris, about 1590, died there after 1658). 


Stated at the time of purchase to have come from The Hague, and stated to have been formerly in the royal palace Huis ten Bosch. 

Purchased from Durlacher Bros., 42 New Bond Street in 1910.

Inscribed on the base in raised letters

King Charles at the age of 31

Inscribed at the base in raised letters.
Hubert le Sueur made this 1631

Victoria and Albert Museum.

see -

Catherine Bruce, Mrs William Murray (d.1649)

Bust of Catherine Bruce, Mrs William Murray (d. 1649).
Gilt Bronze 
H. 785 mm

at Ham House
Attributed to PeterBesnier
National Trust

Sunday, 4 March 2018

Self Portrait with Bust Michael Dahl

Michael Dahl (1659 - 1743).
Self Portrait with Bust of the Medici Venus.
Signed and dated lower left M Dahl. pinx. /Ao 1691.
Size 1245 x 991 mm.


Possibly the ‘picture of him in his own hair’ listed by Vertue in 1723.
Anon. sale, Christie’s, 7 March 1952, lot 73. (‘Portrait of an Artist’), 
bought by dealers Leggatt for the NPG.

A self portrait was in the collection of Matthew Prior (H. Bunker Wright & H. C. Montgomery, ‘The Art Collection of a Virtuoso in eighteenth-century England’, Art Bulletin, XXVII, 1945, p 199, no.22).

Continuing with the occasional post on the theme of sculpture depicted in paintings and engravings.

A Bust of  Dahl by Michael Rysbrack, noted by Vertue in 1732 (G. Vertue, Notebooks, Wal. Soc., XXII, 1934 p 56).

Michael Dahl, by Michael Dahl, 1691 - NPG 3822 - © National Portrait Gallery, London

The bust is a copy from the Venus de Medici (Uffizi; shown in the Tribuna from 1688) of which Louis XIV had owned five copies in both marble and bronze; one of the most admired classical statues, it was regarded by Evelyn as a ‘miracle of art’. 

Although sold in 1952 as ‘An Artist’, there can be little doubt concerning the sitter’s identity. Signed and dated, the pose is that of a self portrait and comparison with Dahl’s self portrait at Gripsholm of c.1700 is reassuring.

NPG 3822 was painted soon after Dahl had settled in England, the head of the Venus de Medici declaring a degree of sophistication. Millar, remarking on the rich personal colours and striking French quality, described it as Dahl’s masterpiece.

Text and image above from NPG website -

Friday, 2 March 2018

Isaac Newton the Conduitt Marble Bust by Michael Rysbrack.

Sir Isaac Newton .
Michael Rysbrack.
The Conduitt Marble Bust.

with the Earl of Portsmouth, Farleigh Wallop. Basingstoke, Hampshire.

Michael Rysbrack (1694 - 1770).
Height 60 cms.

The base - Height - 12.5 cms.
Commissioned by John Conduitt FRS (1688 - 1737).
Perhaps made shortly after his death 1727 but possibly slightly earlier - the medallion by John Coker is dated 1736 and is so close to the Rysbrack version that I would suggest it derived from Rysbrack's bust.

John Conduitt had married Catherine Barton (1679 - 1740) the half niece of Isaac Newton 23 August 1717.
Conduitt succeeded Newton as Master of the Mint in March 1727 after his death.

George Vertue in his notebooks - 1732 (Vertue III , Walpole Society Journal) says "Mr Michael Rysbrake did Sr Isaac Newton immediately after his death from pictures or draughts" 

It is perhaps significant that Vertue does not mention a death mask.

Conduitt died on 23 May 1737, and was buried in Westminster Abbey on 29 May to the right of Sir Isaac Newton. His wife Catherine died in 1739 and was buried with him. 

In his will dated 1732, he left his estate to his wife and made her guardian of their underage daughter Catherine. On his death, the trustees sold the estate at Cranbury Park as well as estates at Weston and Netley, near Southampton to Thomas Lee Dummer, who succeeded him as MP for Southampton

His daughter Catherine later married John Wallop, Viscount Lymington (died 1749) in 1740. He was the eldest son of John Wallop, 1st Earl of Portsmouth, and their son, John Wallop, succeeded as the second earl of Portsmouth. 

The Marble Conduitt bust has remained with the family.

I am very grateful to Lord Portsmouth and Lord Lymington for allowing me to visit Farleigh Wallop and to take photographs of this wonderful bust. I am also extremely grateful to Greta Iddeson, Estate Manager at Farleigh Wallopwho made the visit so enjoyable


Isaac Newton
John Croker
dated 1726.

The profile of Newton is very close to the Rysbrack bust.

Felix Conoscere Cavsas
Loosly translated "Happy to understand causes"
Science holding a diagram of the Solar system.

Isaac Newton
Bronze Medallion.
Designed by John Croker (1670 - 1741).
1726 (old style).

Diam. 51 mm.

Croker originally from Dresden worked with the Royal Mint from 1697 - in 1705 he was appointed Chief Engraver.

Silver medal.

John Croker
The Silver version of the 1726 Medallion.

British Museum.

John Croker
British Museum.


Left to Right - The Conduitt Marble, the Rysbrack Sale bust now in the Fitzwilliam, the Plaster bust in the Wren Library, Trinity College, Cambridge.

For more on the bronze bust of Newton see my post -


Sir Isaac Newton
John Faber Jnr.
c. 1732.
312 x 242 mm.
This mezzotint is something of a conundrum in that it obviously represents the Rysbrack bust of Newton but we know that the bust in Queen Caroline's Hermitage in Richmond Park was by Guelphi (below) - now in Kensington Palace. How did the artist make this mistake?


Bust of Isaac Newton.
depicted in a performance of A Scene from the Indian Emperor or
The Conquest of Mexico by the Spaniards a play by John Dryden.

Taking place at Mr Conduitt's house on 27th April 1732.

1732 - 35.

by William Hogarth.

Oil on canvas
130.8 x 146.6 cms.

Formerly in the collection of Earl of Ilchester

Suggested in the past by Malcolm Baker to be a bust by Roubiliac - making comparisons with the mezzotint above (if reversed!) and the photographs of the Conduitt marble bust it is obviously a representation of the Conduit marble.

This painting was commissioned by John Conduitt.

The play is being performed by four children including Kitty Conduittin front of the three children of George II and Queen Caroline - William Duke of Cumberland,Princess Mary and Princess Louisa.
Also in the audience are the Dukes of Montagu and Richmond,the Earl of Pomfret and Thomas Hill the secretary of the Board of Trade with John Theophilus Desagulier acting as prompter.
The two portraits on the wall represent John Conduit and his wife

The frieze with putti emblematic of Newtons discoveries, below the bust on the chimney piece is that carved by Rysbrack and recently erected on the monument to Isaac Newton in Westminster Abbey.

Marble Frieze on the Monument to Isaac Newton
Michael Rysbrack.
Westminster Abbey.
No photography allowed.
Indifferent photographs can be obtained from the Abbey


Friday, 23 February 2018

Plaster Busts formerly at Shardeloes House

The Shardeloes Set of Plaster Busts.
attrib. to John Cheere.

Shakespeare, Milton, Newton, Pope and Locke.

These busts formerly at Shardeloes House, Amersham, Buckinghamshire.

Removed to Aston Hall.

It seems these busts were purchased from T. Crowther of North End Road, Fulham in 1967.
Info from the Iconography of Issac Newton, Milo Keynes Pub. Boydell, 2005.

Shardeloes was built by Stiff Ledbetter and in part designed by Robert Adam c. 1758 - 66, with later decoration from 1773 by James Wyatt
for William Drake.

Five of these busts are now in store with Birmingham Museums.

The Drake family continued to live in the house until the Second World War when it was used as a Maternity hospital.

The house was converted into flats in the 1960's.

Visible in the photograph are busts possibly of Pope on the left hand door case,  - a bronzed or black painted bust of Inigo Jones, unidentified (perhaps the Palladio below) and Shakespeare on the right hand door case.

Photograph above courtesy Country Life Magazine.

Photograph from Amersham Museum Website


Alexander Pope 
Here attrib. John Cheere.

Sold at the Shardeloes Sale, Sotheby's 1932.

Scan from Wimsatt - Portraits of Alexander Pope. pub Yale, 1965.

Alexander Pope
Plaster bust
Here attributed to John Cheere.
Wren Library, Trinity College, Cambridge.

Photograph by the Author

with grateful thanks to Nicolas Ball, Librarian at the Wren Library.

I will be posting on the long series of  plaster busts at the Wren Library in due course.


Isaac Newton
Shardeloes Plaster bust.
attrib. John Cheere.


Plaster Bust.
here attrib. John Cheere.

The drapery on this bust is different from the Rysbrack marble version at Chatsworth making the bust much longer. 

Currently I have no further information about this bust - it appears to be en suite with the other two busts above - the socles match - perhaps it was misidentified and is another of the Shardeloes busts.

I am hoping to have more photographs of these busts soon.

For an in depth look at the busts of Palladio see -

Image from Birmingham Museums.

Thursday, 22 February 2018

More Busts Isaac Newton

Some Further Plaster Busts of Isaac Newton.
18th and 19th Century.

A few notes and photographs.

This posts forms part of a project to list and post photographs of all the 18th century portrait sculpture of  Isaac Newton.

It updates and enlarges on the the work already completed by Milo Keynes in The Iconography of Isaac Newton, pub Boydell. 2005.


Sir George Scharf (1820 - 95) bought a bust of Newton at Christie's Lot 40, 17 March, 1864.-, for the National Gallery, which was described in the catalogue as terracotta but turned out to be plaster. It was returned to Christie's

It is worth putting the Catalogue description here.

"A bust of Isaac Newton in terracotta, this replica of the bust at Cambridge was presented by the artist Roubiliac to his friend William Hogarth as a token of esteem, and purchased from him by the celebrated John Hunter on the sale of whose effects Mr Sharon Turner purchased it in whose family it has remained ever since"

It had been bought by Dr John Hunter on 24 April 1790, Lot 56 in a sale of the properties of Mrs Hogarth  
A Catalogue of Pictures and Prints the Property of the late Mrs Hogarth at Greenwood's of Leicester Square.
Lot 57 in the same sale was the terracotta bust of Hogarth by Roubiliac (acquired by the NPG in 1861).

The bust of Newton was sold again in Christie's 4 day sale of Hunters  property lot 60, 31st January 1794.

Hogarth had depicted a bust of the Roubiliac Newton in his portrait of Benjamin Hoadly.

Benjamin Hoadly (1676 - 1761).
with a bust of Isaac Newton after Roubiliac,
William Hogarth.

Keynes suggests c. 1739.
Fitzwilliam Museum


Ben. and Robert Shout of Holborn. fl. 1760 - 1840 supplied plaster busts of Newton in three sizes large as life, 12 - 18 inches and 12 inches and under - see their catalogue pub after 1801 (link below). 

Charles Harris in 1777 supplied plaster busts of Newton in two sizes - see catalogue (link below)


Isaac Newton
Loosely after Roubiliac.
West Wycombe Park

Isaac Newton.

Small Plaster bust - about half life size.
West Wycombe Park.

Loosely based on the Roubiliac Newton 

One of a set of five probably supplied by John Cheere.

Newton, Locke, Pope, Milton and Socrates.

Photographed by the author


Image result for Sotheby's plaster bust Newton

Issac Newton
After Roubiliac
Bronzed Plaster Bust
56.5 cms
attributed by Sotheby's to John Cheere.

The bronzing appears to be original
Sold Sotheby's. Lot 172 9 July 2009.

The attribution to Cheere would seem very reasonable. The embroidered work on the dress is typical of these Cheere busts  - the original bronzing is a rare survival as these busts were so often painted and repainted over the years.

for a good brief biography of John Cheere see -

Isaac Newton.
Plaster Cast after Roubilliac.
The socle would suggest a later date for this plaster bust, perhaps late 18th century / early 19th century

Institute of Astrology Trinity College, Cambridge.

These photographs kindly supplied by Mark Hurn, Departmental Librarian, Institute of Astronomy,
University of Cambridge.


Isaac Newton
Plaster cast
After Roubiliac.

The form of the socle suggests 19th Century or later.

Woolsthorpe Hall, National Trust.


Isaac Newton
Plaster bust After Michael Rysbrack.
signed M Rysbrack and dated 1739, under the left shoulder
Height 60.5 cms.

Previous literature has suggested that this bust is terracotta - this is definitely not the case.

Given by T.D. Barlow (1883 - 1964), who had purchased it from Messrs Spink in 1932.

Wren Library, Trinity College, Cambridge.

This bust was in Rysbrack's studio until 1756 when it was purchased by Sir Edward Littleton (1726 - 1812) who proceeded to purchase 8 more busts from Rysbrack over the next 10 years to decorate Teddesley Park near Stafford.

There is a letter at Trinity College to Sir Edward Littleton from Michael Rysbrack, dated Febry 12. 1756.

"I have in whole 4 busts finished, Milton Sr Isaac Newton, Mr Lock and Bacon and now I promise you to begin with the bust of Walter Raleigh. The reason of not sending Sir Francis Baconis; that (as a terracotta bust) it must be dried first and afterwards burned which cannot be done till Summer, it being half dry yet". 

The busts of John Milton and Alexander Pope are now in the Fitzwilliam Museum Cambridge. Bacon and Sir Walter Raleigh are at the National Maritime Museum.

Rysbrack used Peter Vannini 'the caster in plaster of Paris ("who I employ when I want") to make his plaster casts (Webb).


Isaac Newton
Plaster cast after Roubiliac supplied by Pietro Sarti in 1830.
Athenaeum Club

Images from -


Isaac Newton
Plaster cast after Rysbrack.
inscribed Brucciani.
Mid 19th Century.
Science Museum.


Isaac Newton.
Plaster Cast after Rysbrack.
 Woolsthorpe Hall, Lincolnshire, (birthplace of Newton). 
Age and provenance yet to be determined.

National Trust.


Isaac Newton.
Plaster bust after Rysbrack.

Sold Christie's Lot 105, 5 December, 2013.

The Sotheby's catalogue suggests that it is the same as the British Museum plaster version (below) but a cursory glance shows that the BM version is a much inferior copy.


Isaac Newton 
The British Museum Plaster Bust
after Michael Rysbrack.

Plaster portrait bust of Sir Isaac Newton (1642-1727) after Michael Rysbrack (1694-1770), slightly to right wearing a jacket with three buttonholes and an elaborate fold over his right shoulder over an open shirt.

Plaster portrait bust of Sir Isaac Newton (1642-1727) after Michael Rysbrack (1694-1770), slightly to right wearing a jacket with three buttonholes and an elaborate fold over his right shoulder over an open shirt.

Plaster portrait bust of Sir Isaac Newton (1642-1727) after Michael Rysbrack (1694-1770), slightly to right wearing a jacket with three buttonholes and an elaborate fold over his right shoulder over an open shirt.

Plaster portrait bust of Sir Isaac Newton (1642-1727) after Michael Rysbrack (1694-1770), slightly to right wearing a jacket with three buttonholes and an elaborate fold over his right shoulder over an open shirt.

Isaac Newton 
The British Museum Plaster Bust
after Michael Rysbrack.
Height 54.5 cms.

Photographs from the British Museum website.

Bequeathed to the British Museum by Sir Hans Sloane in 1753.

This is a peculiarly low quality plaster bust, the detail of the hair and shirt are very poor. It seems odd that Sir Hans Sloane would own such an inferior quality object - especially give the quality of other Newton plaster busts available at the time.

The holes all over the back are mysterious


Isaac Newton
Bronzed Plaster Bust
height 75 cms.
Life Size.
After Michael Rysbrack.

Music Room West Wycombe Park, Bucks.

One of a set of four busts at West Wycombe comprising Newton, Milton, Dryden and Locke.

Photographed by the author in very low light.

The form of the support between the socle and the bust is very close to that used by Shout of Holburn and later by Sarti.

It has been suggested that this set of busts was supplied by John Cheere but I am doubtful given the form of the support over the socle. 

The smaller busts also at West Wycombe on the other hand were almost certainly supplied by Cheere (see the Newton at the top of this page).

The set of four plaster busts in the Music Room at West Wycombe Park.


The Arniston House Plaster bust of  Isaac Newton loosely 

based on the original by Michael Rysbrack.

All photographs taken by the author in 2015.

This bust is one of  a series of 16 busts in the Skied Library at Arniston House .

It was possibly supplied when the library was refurbished in 1756. The other busts in the library were probably collected by Robert Dundas II earlier - in the 1730's whilst on his "Grand Tour".

I am very grateful to Henrietta Dundas for allowing me the opportunity to photograph this bust and the other statuary at Arniston House, Midlothian, Scotland.

For an in depth look at the Series of Plaster busts and figures in the Skied Library at Arniston see -


This posts forms part of a project to list and post photographs of all the 18th century portrait sculpture of  Isaac Newton.

It updates and enlarges on the the work already completed by Milo Keynes in The Iconography of Isaac Newton , pub Boydell. 2005.


Marble bust of Isaac Newton
Edward Hodges Baily 1828.

Sir Isaac Newton, by Edward Hodges Baily, after  Louis Fran├žois Roubiliac, 1828, based on a work of 1751 - NPG 995 - © National Portrait Gallery, London

Isaac Newton
Edward Hodges Baily (1788 - 1867).

transferred from the Tate Gallery to the National Portrait Gallery in 1957.

Currently on display at Beningbrough Hall.

Based on the original by Roubiliac of 1751 in the Wren Library, Trinity College, Cambridge
28" tall
Note lack of shirt beneath the robe.

In 1828 Hodges Baily also completed busts of Francis Bacon ( after the Wren Library Marble) and John Locke, both after originals by Roubiliac, they are both at Magdalen College, Oxford. 

It is interesting to note that these are not slavish copies but have minor variations from the originals particularly in the dress. 

The bust of Locke has an inscription on the back stating that it was copied from a bust by Roubiliac but we have no documentary proof of a Roubiliac bust of Locke, I have located a further three marble versions of Locke which might also have been an original by Roubiliac and further 19th century copies - the bust of Locke sold by Sotheby's lot 148, 23 March 1971 is perhaps the original by Roubiliac - I only have a photocopy of a photograph of this bust but the quality shines through.

see -

For more on the Newton busts see -

and other posts on this blog.


See my previous blog posts - these are not finished essays but a collection of loose notes and photographs of the various portraits of Newton - none of these entries is definitive - It is my intention to edit them into a more coherent whole in the future.


For the Roubiliac marble bust at the Royal Society see -


see also -