This bust shows former Prime Minister Henry in classical attire. It is by the renowned sculptor Sir Richard Westmacott, who also produced a funerary monument to Sidmouth for St Mary’s Church, Mortlake. However, the sculptor is thought to have been a Whig because of his close associations with several Whig politicians.
Another bronze version of the bust, signed by the artist and dated 1810, was with fine art dealer Cyril Humphris of London in 1972 and is probably the work Westmacott exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1810. An undated marble version was the property of Universal Studios, before it was sold through Bonhams, Los Angeles, in 2013.
This example was formerly owned by museum director and writer Sir David Towry Piper (1918-1990), who served as director of the National Portrait Gallery in London, the Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge and the Ashmolean, Oxford. Piper probably purchased the bust at the 1954 sale of the contents of one of Sidmouth’s former homes, Up-Otterly Manor in Devon, where he also bought a bust of Sidmouth’s father.
Sir Richard Westmacott was born in London; the son of a sculptor by the same name. He studied under Canova in Rome, before being admitted to the Florence Academy. Returning to London in 1797, he established a studio near his father’s. He exhibited 65 sculptures at the Royal Academy in London (1797-1839). He was elected a full member of the Academy in 1811 and succeeded Flaxman as Professor of Sculpture there in 1827. He received an honorary degree from the University of Oxford in 1836 and was knighted in 1837. Westmacott died at his home in South Audley Street, London, at the age of 81. Today, he is best-known for his statuary and monuments, including the figures on the façade of the British Museum and his statue of Achilles in Hyde Park.
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