Monday, 23 October 2017

Marble bust of George II by Rysbrack at the Sotheby's Howard Hodgkin Sale.

A Marble bust of George II
by Michael Rysbrack 
at the Sotheby's Howard Hodgkin Sale.
Lot 193, Tuesday 24 October 2017.

George II.
 signed M: RYSBRACK F
White Statuary Marble.
Sotheby's say circa 1739.
Height 63 cms.

With the badge of the order of the garter on his left breast and the Great George on a ribbon around his kneck
Authors photograph.


Sotheby's Condition Report.

The marble is a very finely carved autograph portrait bust by Rysbrack. There is dirt and wear to the surface consistent with age. The surface is consistent with the marble having been outdoors for a period of time. There is general wear to the surface due to weathering, for example to the lesser George pendant and the inscription on the garter star. The surface is dry in areas, in particular at the back. Parts of the surface, in particular the sash and the face, have been repolished. There is possible restoration and paint residue to under the nose. The tip of the laurel above the forehead is reattached. There are a few small losses and chips to the laurels. 

There are small naturally occurring inclusions to the marble, in particular at the proper left side of the face and the sash on the proper left side. 

There are residues of blue-green paint including to the back of the bust. There is dirt, particularly to the crevices, and dark dirt marks particularly at the back and behind the shoulders. 

The marble would benefit from a professional cleaning and waxing. There are a few small losses including to the edges of the knot at the neck and to the dragon's wing on the pendant. There are a few small chips, including to the sash. There is veining to the marble consistent with the material. There is a small chip to the edge of the proper right shoulder.


My opinion - for what its worth.

This bust has suffered a great deal from being outside and much of the surface where it has been exposed has sugared probably by acids in the atmosphere. This is very evident in the laurel leaves and curls of the hair. At some time in its past it has been restored by polishing the sugared surface particularly on the face and front of the bust. In doing so this has removed the majority, if not all of the original surface and thus the original intentions of the sculptor.

Whilst historically interesting it can no longer be described as an original work of art. It should be compared with the other versions which are in much better condition - the photographs of the Christ Church marble bust and the Victoria and Albert marble bust by Rysbrack (below) show clearly what the bust must have looked like originally.

My advice to any potential purchaser - think very carefully before bidding tens or even hundreds of thousands of pounds for a bust whose distressed surface has been altered and therefore a work where the sculptors intentions have been severely compromised!

Photographs from the Sotheby's website
see -


George II.
Michael Rysbrack
 in the Christchurch Gallery, St Aldates, Oxford.

This bust was placed over the hall chimney-piece when the Hall was repaired and adorned under the direction of Dean Gregory in about 1752 and removed to Christchurch Library when the new Chimney-pieces were built before 1804 - see Oxford Almanack, Christ Church Hall drawn by JMW Turner and engraved with variations in 1807.

All photographs below by the author.

I am very grateful to Jaqueline Thalman curator of the Christ Church Gallery for allowing me to visit and to take photographs for this blog of the busts at the Gallery.

I am also very grateful for the assistance of Dana Josephson and for suggesting that I investigate and record the various busts in the Bodleian Library and at Christ Church and for enabling me to photograph this and the other busts.


George II
Michael Rysbrack
Signed at the back with the initials MR and dated 1760
Height 89 cms.

Victoria and Albert Museum

Photographed by the author.

Sunday, 17 September 2017

Charles II - Busts

Charles II - (1630 - 85).
Attrib. to Edward Pearce (1630 - 95).

Terracotta Bust
70 x 56 x 32 cms
c 1670 - 80)
Royal Collection

Restored in 1938 when the bronze painted finish was removed


Charles II
Attrib. John Bushnell
Seaton Delaval Hall.
formerly at Melton Constable
National Trust


Charles II
Attrib John Bushnell
78.5 cms
Given to the Fitzwilliam in 1948.
Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge

Photographs taken by the author. 20 August 2015.

This bust was bought in the early 1920's from the owners of the Mill Hill Estate, where it had been since 1877 in the possession of Mr Serjeant Cox, who had purchased it with the furniture, fittings, plate, and other materials of the demolished Serjeant's Inn, Chancery Lane, and re-erected the hall stained glass and all, at his home at Mill Hill. Sir Bruce surmised that the bust may have originally belonged to Francis North, 1st Baron Guildford (1637-1685), Lord Chancellor, who was highly esteemed by Charles II, and who, as Lord Keeper, erected the Chancery Lane Hall of Serjeants Inn, 1669-1677.

Fascinating engraving of the polymath Martin Folkes 
by Jacob Folkema, 1746
98 x 143 mm.
from Portraits des Hommes Illustres de Dannemark Part 6 


Excerpt above from

Ex bibliotheca Hugh Frederick Hornby. Catalogue of the art library bequeathed by Hugh Frederick Hornby, esq., of Liverpool, to the Free public library of the city of Liverpool

see last paragraph


Medallion of Martin Folkes by Jaques Dassier 1740.

Images from website of Ben Weiss
all rights reserved.


For more on the Dassier Medallion of Martin Folkes 

see -


Medallion struck in Rome dated 1742
38mm diam with the pyramid of Caius Sestius in Rome

For much more on the portraits of Martin Folkes see my blog entry


Bust of Charles II
John Dwight 
Fulham Pottery 
Hand modelled
Saly Glazed Stoneware
Height18.2 cms
c. 1673 -75.

Images Victoria and Albert Museum

see -


Another version of the bust of Charles II
 by John Dwight
Fulham Pottery Hand modelled
Salt Glaze Stoneware
19.5 cms approx

Image Victoria and Albert Museum

for further information see my blog entry -


Charles II
Lead Bust
Ham House


Statue of Charles II
Grinling Gibbons

 Royal Collection

Charles II
Chelsea Hospital


King James II, by Unknown artist, 1685-1688 - NPG 5869 - © National Portrait Gallery, London

James II (1633 - 1701)
Here attrib. to Bushnell
803 mm tall
National Portrait Gallery
Purchased 1986