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This small bust of former Prime Minister William Ewart Gladstone shows the sitter in a bow tie, a shirt with stand-up collar, waist coat and jacket. It is made of Parian, a type of bisque porcelain, designed to imitate marble. The bust is the same design as an 18 inch high Parian bust, set on a short column, sold through Bonham’s, London, in 2007, from the collection of the Earl of Stratford. Another similar bust, almost eight inches high, with a similar square base, was sold through dealer Tooveys in 2013 and carried the maker’s mark of Robinson & Leadbeater.
Robinson & Leadbeater of Stoke on Trent specialised in Parian figurines and busts. In 1876, around the time that this bust was made, the ‘Staffordshire Sentinel’ reported that business was booming: ‘figure-makers and parian manufacturers report a brisker demand. Indeed there is almost a rage for parian busts, statuettes, and figures.’
Gladstone was a particularly popular subject for such busts and other examples were manufactured and sold by Edwin Pickering of London, J. Graham of Bradford and Mr Stark of Stoke on Trent.
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