Tuesday, 14 November 2017

Monument to Richard Weston Ist Earl of Portland, Winchester Cathedral.

Monument to Richard Weston,
 First Earl of Portland 1577 - 1635, 
Winchester Cathedral.
c. 1635 - 45.

Children - Jerome Weston, 2nd Earl of Portland, Thomas Weston 4th Earl of Portland.

For a reasonably accurate and short biog. see -


Monument to Richard Weston, First Earl of Portland
Winchester Cathedral
Anonymous Engraving
undated - 18th century.
213 x 165 mm
British Museum

This engraving is slightly different in detail to the monument at Winchester, 
mainly in the niches for the busts and the busts themselves (three pictured below) from an old file at the Conway Library.

I am in contact with the Jo Bartholomew the archivist at Winchester Cathedral, who has promised smartphone photographs of the busts shortly and has kindly provided brief descriptions.

A bust of a man, bearded and dressed in a broad-collared shirt and an armoured jerkin decorated with a grotesque Antique mask and lion's head epaulettes. Minor losses from the face; left shoulder missing.

The headless bust of a man wearing a sleeved, fur-trimmed gown and a scarf or stole.

Head of a young, clean-shaven man. Losses from the nose and chin.

  Bust of a young, clean-shaven man wearing a crumpled, broad-collared shirt, fastened by a single button at the neck.

At some time in the past the wrong head was attached to the wrong body but this was rectified about 25 years ago.

Current thinking is that Isaac Besnier was responsible for these busts and the marble elements of the monument.

For Isaac Besnier (Besneire(e)) Benyer(e) fl 1631 - 1642, and his brother Peter Besneir, (Bennier), (Bannier) see A Biographical Dictionary of London Tomb Sculptors..... Adam White, Walpole Society Journal, 1999.


Photograph of the Busts from the Richard Weston Monument.
The photographs here appear to be cropped from a photograph prepared for an article in the Burlington Magazine, by Mrs Katherine Esdaile published in January 1928. The published photograph only showed the main effigy and base.



There appears to be some confusion with the portraits of Richard Weston
particularly with the engravings, which seem to refer erroniously to Jerome Weston, the 2nd Earl.

They are based on a version of the full length van Dyck portrait below.

Richard Weston, Ist Earl of Portland
After van Dyck
219 x 137 cms
no provenance had been on display at 10 downing Street since 1888.
Currently with the Treasury.
Government Art Collection


Richard Weston, Ist Earl of Portland
After van Dyck
73.5 x 61 cms.

Government Art Collection


Portrait of Richard Weston (but wrongly titled Jerome Weston), first Earl of Portland, half length, moustache and beard, wearing ruff, ribbon with medal, coat, and cloak over shoulder; after Anthony van Dyck; second state, before more re-work with burin.  1645  Etching and engraving

Richard Weston called here Hieronymus Weston
after van Dyck
Wenceslaus Hollar
pub J Meyssens
Engraving and etching
241 x 192 mm.

One of several versions of this engraving at the museum
British Museum.


Portrait of Richard Weston (but wrongly titled Jerome Weston), first Earl of Portland, bust in frontal view but looking to right, moustache and beard, wearing ruff, ribbon with medal, and cloak over shoulder; after Anthony van Dyck; illustration to Ward's "History of the Grand Rebellion" (London: 1713)  Engraving and etching

Richard Weston, Ist Earl of Portland.
Illustration from Ward's History of the Grand Rebellion

Attrib. George Vertue
c. 1713.
168 x 96 mm
Repeating the mistaken identification

British Museum

Wednesday, 8 November 2017

The Bronze Busts of Venetia, Lady Digby by Georg Larson Part Three.

The Bronze Busts of Venetia, Lady Digby (1600 - 33).
Part Three.

The Digby 'Monument' Bust. 

The suggestion here is that the unsigned bust of Lady Venetia Digby (pictured below) paired with the bust of Lady Digby signed G Larson ( both in a private collection) is the bust from the Digby Monument at Christ Church, Newgate Street which was destroyed in the Great Fire of London.

see (Rev. William) Coles' notes on Gothurst sent to Horace Walpole c. 25 Sept 1762.
Referring to the portraits at Gothurst

"......Mr Wright supposed it might be Lady Venetia Digby, but I could not discover the features of her in it, as represented in that by Van Dyke, no more than in two very fine busts of copper gilt, or brass, standing in Mr Wright's study, on two elegant pedestals of black and white marble. It is by no means improbable but the bust put up for this lady by her husband Sir Kenelm in Christ Church without Newgate in London was cast in the same mould with one of these: that bust and monument were destroyed in the Fire of London. One of these busts' is dressed in a loose and light habit, but in a fine taste, and with her hair rather more flowing than the other, which is frizzled out and curled, and ribbons behind; the figure is larger and fatter, and is habited after the Van Dyke manner with a large laced handkerchief"

Horace Walpole in Anecdotes of Paintings in England: with Some Account......

"Sir Kenelm erected for her a monument in black marble with her bust in copper gilt, and a lofty epitaph, in Christ Church without Newdate; but it was destroyed in the fire of London. Lodges Peerages of Ireland vol IV p.89. There are two busts of Lady Venetia extant at Mr Wrights at Gothurst in Buckinghamshire with several portraits of the family of Digby. The house belonged to Sir Kenelm and was purchased  by Sir Nathan Wright ( the bust which was placed upon the sarcophagus is said to have been extant, and seen by Mr Pennant( Journey to London)".

There is a passage in Athenae Oxoniensis by Anthony Wood (1632 - 95) 

"about 1676 or 5 as I was walking through Newgate Street I sawe Dame Venetia's bust standing at a stall at the Golden Cross, a braziers shop. I presently remembered it but a fire had got off the gilding: but taking notice of it to one who was with me, I could never see it afterwards exposed to the street. 

They melted it downe. How these curiosities would be quite forgot, did not such idle fellows as I am put them downe".

This account is very close to that of John Aubrey (1626 - 97) in Brief Lives. Aubrey certainly aided Wood in the compilation of his work.

Extract above from John Aubrey - My own Life by Ruth Scurr, pub. 2016. Lifted from Google Books. 

The vignette of the Digby monument from Aubrey's manuscripts at the Bodleian Library???
This needs to be checked!

This might suggest that the bust survived the great fire of 1666, was recovered and sold and adds credibility to the speculation that the bust here is the bust from the monument at Christ Church, Newgate Street.

For my first thought on these busts see my previous post -
This was posted before meeting the current owners and taking the photographs



Monument to Venetia, Lady Digby.
Probably that formerly at Christ Church, Newgate Street.

The author of the Christchurch bust of Venetia Digby must remain open to speculation for the time being. Comparison of the 'Monument' bust with the bust of Lady Digby, which is signed G Larson suggests to me that they are by different sculptors.

See my previous post for photographs of the Georg Larson bust.

Isaac Besnier (fl. 1631 - 42) was possibly responsible for the manufacture of the black marble sarcophagus of the Digby Tomb which is closely related to that on the memorial to Ludovic, Duke of Lennox and Richmond in Westminster Abbey where the bronze was possibly by Hubert Le Sueur. Adam White suggests that Besnier may have been involved with this monument, which seems to have been in existence in 1628, although Besnier is not known definitely to have been in England until 1631.

Info. ref.  Besnier from A Biographical Dictionary of London Tomb Sculptors... Adam White, Walpole Society Journal, 1999

Engraving of the Monument to Venetia Digby
From the Antiquarian Repertory

This engraving is based on an illumination in The Digbiorum Pedigree of 1634
A large folio book on vellum.
Now with the Wingfield Digby family at Sherborne Castle, Dorset.

I have contacted the archivist at Sherborne but unfortunately the Winfield Digby family do not wish to have their possessions illustrated on the internet.

see - https://archive.org/details/familyhistoriesg12sali
Pages 458/459


The above views show that the bottom of the bust is separate plates that have been riveted to the bust

Quite different to the base of the previous bust wich is integral to the structure of the bust.

The difference in the manufacture might suggest that this bust is not by Georg Larson.

Close up distinctly showing the fracture below the right hand proper side of the mouth and the rectangular patch.This could point to the fact that this is the gilded bronze bust that survived the burning of Christ Church without Negate in the great fire of London of 1666 (rebuilt to a design by Sir Christopher Wren in 1687)

Photographs by the author, with very grateful thanks to the owners.


Anonymous Bronze  Bust

Attributed to George Larson
Height with socle 49.8cms.

Christies London Ist July 1997 - lot 35

Lot 71, 13 June 2017
Christie's Paris

Catalogue entry

Previously associated with the work of Hubert Le Sueur, a Frenchman who became Court Sculptor to Charles I of England, the freely handled hair of the present bust is closer to the only documented work of his contemporary George Larson (private collection, England, F. Scholten, 'The Larson Family of Statuary Founders: Seventeenth Century Reproductive Sculpture for Gardens and Painters' Studios', Simiolus: Netherlands Quarterly for the History of Art, vol. 31, no. 1/2, 2004-2005, p. 56).

The latter bust of Lady Digby is signed by Larson, who was clearly an astounding metal caster, and displays an affinity to the work of Le Sueur, but with less rigidity in the forms of the hair. This type of head can also be paralleled among Van Dyck's English sitters.

see - http://www.christies.com/lotfinder/Lot/buste-en-bronze-representant-une-jeune-femme-6083823-details.aspx

The Busts of Venetia, Lady Digby Part Two.

The Bronze Busts of Venetia, Lady Digby (1600 - 33).
By Georg Larson. 

Illustration from Pennants Tour from Chester to London
James Basire II
228 x 153 mm.

Believed to be Venetia Lady Digby
Peter Oliver
Miniature on Vellum
64 x 50 mm.
Victoria and Albert Museum


Lady Venetia Digby (1600 - 33) 
Henry Toutin 
signed H Toutin Fecit 1637
Enamel Portrait Miniature.
12.5 x 8.3 cms
Walters Art Museum

This portrait, signed and dated 1637, was completed after her death and is based on an earlier miniature painted in opaque watercolor by Peter Oliver (1594-1648). 

An inscription in Latin on the back describes the grief felt by her husband: 

"He tries to snatch a ghost from the funeral pyre and fights a battle with death, exhausting the skills of the artists. Everywhere he searches for thee - O, the bitterness of it - on piece of metal." 

Kenelm Digby was in Paris in 1635-36 and probably commissioned the piece at that time. 

The stunning frame by Gilles Légaré (d. 1663) exemplifies a further aspect of French enamel work of the period.

Henri Toutin was the first artist to exploit a new technique for painting with enamel developed by his father in 1632 that permitted both more refined detail and translucent colors on a white ground, suggesting the qualities of a delicate watercolor portrait.


The Strawberry Hill Miniature Portraits

Sir Kenelm Digby, his wife and two sons
The Digby Family
Portrait Miniatures of Sir Kenelm and Lady Venetia Digby, and Their Sons Kenelm and John, with Two Portraits of Lady Venetia Digby and ‘Lady Arabella Stuart’
Strawberry Hill ID: sh-000333
Oliver, Peter (English miniaturist, 1589-1647)
Dyck, Anthony van (Flemish painter, 1599-1641, active in England)

Three miniatures in watercolour on vellum, set inside an ebony veneered 17th or early 18th century case with inner gilt slips
15.5 x 24.6 cm (framed in wooden cabinet)
Nationalmuseum, Stockholm. NMB 969. Bequest 1927 of consul Hjalmar Wicander (The Wicander Collection)

Strawberry Hill History

Location: Breakfast Room [Blue Breakfast Room]

1774  Description: Sir Kenelm Digby, his wife and two sons, by Peter Oliver, after Vandyck; a large miniature in the highest preservation; in an ebony case set with Wedgwood's cameos. On the insides of the doors, two other ladies of the same set.(126)

1784 Description: Text same as 1774 Description (22)

Sale Text: Sir Kenelm Digby, his wife and two sons, after Vandyck, a large miniature, in the finest preservation, in an ebony case, silver mounted, and on the inside of the doors are the Portraits of two Ladies of the same family.

Object History

Provenance: 1775, bt Horace Walpole; 1842, Strawberry Hill Sale, day 11, lot 56 bt Miss Burdett Coutts, £241.10; 1922 May 9-11, Christie's, Baroness Burdett-Coutts Sale, lot 361, bt Hjalmar Wicander 1000 guineas; 1927, Wicander Collection Bequest to Nationalmuseum, Stockholm.

All information above from The Lewis Walpole Library, Yale University Website - see 



Sir Kenulm and Lady Venetia Digby
Oliver, Peter (English miniaturist, 1589-1647)
Dyck, Anthony van (Flemish painter, 1599-1641, active in England), After

Watercolour on vellum set in an enamelled gold diptych frame.

8.8 cm [height of each miniature]; 9.6 x 14.7 cm [frame]
Inscriptions: on recto of Sir Kenelm Digby: Vindica te tibi; on recto of Lady Venetia Digby: The La: Ve Digby A:D 1632. AET: 32

Wingfield Digby collection, Sherborne Castle

Provenance: Watkin Williams; bt Horace Walpole, 1771 (nine framed Digby miniatures, £300) or 1775 
sold 1842, Strawberry Hill Sale, day 11, lot 24, bt Robert Holford, Esq., £178.10.0; 

the Wingfield Digby family, Sherborne Castle; by family descent.

Lewis Walpole Library. Yale University. Website

see - http://images.library.yale.edu/strawberryhill/oneitem.asp?id=561


Underneath the right proper shoulder the signature G. Larson.
the bust has been cast in one piece.
Unfortunately it was impossible to see behind.

Photographed by the author with many grateful thanks to the owners.

More to follow ........

Saturday, 4 November 2017

The Bust of Sir Thomas Bodley in the Bodleian Library

Stone Bust of Sir Thomas Bodley
Today in a niche in the Bodleian Library

Here attributed to Isaac James d. 1625.

Bodleian Library Interior from the West
Engraving from David Loggan's Oxonia Illustrata of 1675.

©Trustees of the British Museum.

Bodleian Library Interior from the East
From David Loggan's Oxonia Illustrata of 1675.

©Trustees of the British Museum.

Bodleian Library Interior from the East
engraving from David Loggan's Oxonia Illustrata of 1675.

Not showing the bust of Thomas Bodley in a niche on the left facing the bronze bust by Le Sueur of King Charles I opposite. Given the fine detail of this engraving it would appear to show that the niche for Bodley had not yet been constructed with a frame to loosely echo that of Charles I by 1675.

I am very grateful to Dr Martin Kauffman, Head of Early and Rare Collections, and Tolkien Curator of Medieval Manuscripts at the Bodleian for allowing me permission to use these photographs of this remarkable bust for the blog.

I am also very grateful to Dana Josephson for suggesting the project and for assisting me with the photography at the Bodleian Library.

All the photographs above taken by the author.

It was a very difficult job to obtain good photographs of this bust.
The light was very poor and I really don't like to use flash and I was balancing on a small set of step ladders.


A short list culled from The Biographical Dictionary of London Tomb Sculptors 1560 - 1660.
Adam White, Walpole Society Journal, 1999. I have used this list to flesh out the histories of these sculptors on this blog.

This list is not exhaustive but the number of candidates for the possible sculptor of the Bodley Bust working in London at the beginning of the 17th century is surprisingly small.
Presented here in alphabetical order -

Bartholomew Atye (fl 1600 - 1618).

John Colt fl. 1685 - d.1637.
Maximillian Colt (Coult). fl. 1602 - 27/8. 
 The Colt Family Workshop.

Cornelius Cure (d. 1608/9).
William Cure (d.1632).
The Cure family workshop.

Epiphanius Evesham (c. 1570 - c 1620's) not relevant to the Bodley Bust research because he worked in Paris from 1600 - 1615.

Isaac James ( fl. 1600 - 1624/5). My current favourite for the possible sculptor of the Bodley Bust.

Garret Johnson The Elder fl.1591 - 1611.
Garrat Johnson the Younger
Nicholas Johnson f. 1594 - 1624. (son of Garret Johnson The Elder).
The Johnson Family Workshop.

Gillis (Jellis or Giles) fl. 1576 - 1614.