This bronze bust, based on the death mask of former Prime Minister Arthur Wellesley, first Duke of Wellington, was made in 1853, the year after Wellington’s death.
The sculptor, George Gammon Adams, exhibited six works relating to the Duke of Wellington at the Royal Academy from 1853 to 1859. These were: a funeral medal in 1853, a version of this bust and a memorial to the Duke in the following year, a statue of the Duke in 1855, a further bronze statue (made for the city of Norwich) in 1856 and a second bust in 1859.
This is a small bronze copy of Adams's marble bust of the Duke, of which there are a number of other replicas. A marble version is at Stratfield Saye, the Duke's country residence near Reading. Another example, showing the duke in classical robes, is in the Government Art Collection (GAC 1226).
George Gammon Adams attended the Royal Academy Schools from 1840. He later spent a year in Rome, studying under John Gibson. Adams gained recognition after exhibiting work at the Great Exhibition and also designing prize medals for the exhibition. In 1852 he was selected to model the death mask of Wellington. Following this Gammon exhibited six works depicting the Duke and gained commissions for several public monuments. He made a series of busts of notable public figures during the 1850s and ‘60s. Adams exhibited at the Royal Academy and the British Institution. His public sculptures include ‘General Sir Charles James Napier’ (1855) on the South-western plinth in Trafalgar Square and the ‘Dean of Ripon’ at St. George’s Hall, Liverpool.
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