The sculptor John Bailey exhibited an earlier life-size, marble bust of Queen Victoria in May 1853. It was put on display at the gallery of Mr. Hogarth, a printseller, on Haymarket, where it was priced at 120 guineas, while plaster casts were available for 5 guineas each. However, the 1853 bust was more elaborate and ambitious in design than this later example. It showed the Queen’s head decorated with flowers and included a lace veil hanging from the back of the head. The Queen was wearing a riband over one shoulder, attached to which was a medallion portrait of her husband, Prince Albert. In the following year the bust was exhibited by Bailey at the Society of British Artists, Suffolk Street, as ‘Bust in marble of Her Most Gracious Majesty Queen Victoria’, along with six other sculpted busts, including those of Prince Albert, Napoleon III and the Duke of Wellington.
One reviewer of the exhibition commented that ‘the sculptor has managed very skilfully to make her Majesty look not only like herself and like a queen, but also like the embodiment of an ideal person. The fancy is pleased, while there is not outrage committed upon truth.’ The same might be said of this simpler bust of Victoria by Bailey.
Self-taught sculptor John Bailey exhibited in London at the Royal Academy (1851-61), Society of British Artists (1853-54) and Royal Panopticon of Science and Art (1856). He lived in Conduit Place, Paddington. He made a bust of Louis Kossuth, Governor of Hungary, and cast a death mask of Sir James Parker (both 1852). In 1853 he made a monument for Colonel Warren Firth and his wife (Nursling, Hampshire). By the time his 1853 bust of Queen Victoria (untraced) was exhibited he was considered a promising young artist. However, he received no commissions from 1852-54 and his mother lived in a workhouse. In 1856 John and his brother were charged with refusing to support her. He was still working in the mid-1860s but exhibited no works after 1861.
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