This bust shows former Prime Minister Arthur Wellesley, First Duke of Wellington. It could be said to match the description by an officer in the Peninsular War, who noted the Field-Marshal’s ‘quick glancing eye, prominent nose and pressed lip’.
This bust is based on two versions by Sir Francis Chantrey. Chantrey’s first portrayal of the Duke was commissioned by the Earl of Liverpool and executed in 1823. The sculptor produced a second bust after Wellington became Prime Minister in 1828. Chantrey made sketches in preparation for the busts at one of Wellington’s country houses; either Stratfield Saye or Walmer Castle.
Francis Chantrey was born in Norton, near Sheffield. His father was a carpenter who owned a small farm. Initially apprenticed to a carver and gilder called Ramsey, Chantrey was later taught drawing by John Raphael Smith. He began his career painting portraits but turned to wood-carving, before trying clay modeling. In 1809 he exhibited a bust of ‘Satan’ at the Royal Academy, which led to commissions for further busts. He travelled to Paris in 1814 and Rome in 1819, where he visited the studios of Canova and Thorvaldsen. He became a member of the Royal Academy in 1818. In 1835 he was knighted. By the end of his life Chantrey had built a considerable fortune, most of which he left to the Royal Academy for purchasing work by British artists.
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