This bronze bust of the former Lord Chancellor shows Brougham at the age of 89, wrapped in a Scottish plaid. Marble versions of the bust were exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1867 and 1872, while this bronze version was shown there in 1868. When the marble version was first exhibited in 1867, a reviewer of the Academy exhibition, writing for the ‘Art Journal’, commented:
‘J. Adams, who commonly gains nice modulation in flesh surface, has certainly tortured unmercifully the not over handsome features of Lord Brougham.’
The National Portrait Gallery in London has a both a marble version and a plaster copy.
John Adams-Acton was born in Middlesex, the son of artist William Adams. He added Acton to his surname to avoid confusion with other artists named John Adams. He trained under Timothy Butler and Matthew Noble. In 1853, he entered the Royal Academy Schools, winning the Academy’s travelling studentship in 1858 and relocating to Rome. Acton remained in Rome until 1865 and there met John Gibson. In 1875 he married Marion Hamilton, a novelist who wrote under the name Jeanie Hering. After spending eight months in India, the couple settled in London. They had five children and lived on Marylebone Road from 1880, before building a house and studio in St John’s Wood. Acton died at the age of 79, at the family’s holiday home on the Isle of Arran.
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