This bust of politician Charles James Fox is not be all it seems. In September 1806, sculptor Lawrence Gahagan advertised for sale reproductions of his bust of Fox, ‘the last portrait ever taken from that beloved Patriot’. The busts were available from his home at 5 Bentinck Street, Soho; priced at three guineas for plaster casts or 60 guineas for marble versions.
However, five years later, Gahagan was involved in a court case against a Mr Cooper, whom the sculptor alleged had pirated his Fox bust, altering it to add drapery and shoulders. This bust is intriguing. Not only does it not show Fox in clothing and with shoulders, but it is dated 1798 on the shoulder and appears to be faintly dated 1797 on the reverse of the base. The curls of Fox's hair are also carefully modelled at the front but far more crudely represented at the back of the head. A more successful version of Gahagan's bust, without the drapery or shoulders, and also without the teeth seen on this version, is in the collection at Athelstan Museum in Malmesbury, Wiltshire. The version at Athelstan Museum represents the artist's unchanged design.
Sculptor Lawrence Gahagan [Geoghegan] was born in Dublin. His brother, Sebastian, was also a successful sculptor. Gahagan changed his name from Geoghegan, before moving to London to specialise in the production of small, bronze portrait busts. He exhibited at the Royal Academy from 1798 to 1817 and at the British Institution in 1809. Among the works shown were busts of William Pitt, Horatio Nelson and lawyer and politician Sir Samuel Romilly. Gahagan was commissioned to make designs for Castle Howard in 1801. In 1806 he submitted a proposed design for the monument to William Pitt to be located in the Guildhall, London, but failed to win the commission. Gahagan’s son, Lucius, and daughter, Sarah, were pupils and assistants to their father.
Necessary cookies are absolutely essential for the website to function properly. This category only includes cookies that ensures basic functionalities and security features of the website. These cookies do not store any personal information.
Any cookies that may not be particularly necessary for the website to function and is used specifically to collect user personal data via analytics, ads, other embedded contents are termed as non-necessary cookies. It is mandatory to procure user consent prior to running these cookies on your website.