Unknown Man

  • About the work
    Location
    Country: USA
    City: Washington DC
    Place: British Embassy

    When the bust was purchased for the government collection in 1958, it was titled 'Richard, 1st Marquess Wellesley (1760-1842) Governor-General of India'. However, the identity of the sitter has since been questioned.

    Sculptor Joseph Nollekens exhibited nothing at the Royal Academy in 1807, the year this bust was made. In the following year he exhibited six busts of male sitters, including a bust of the Marquess of Wellesley (a version of which is now in the Royal Collection). There is also a marble bust of the Marquess by sculptor John Bacon the Younger, dated c.1808, in the collection of the National Portrait Gallery. Despite both these busts of Wellesley resembling the sitter of this work, they do not appear to be the same person.

  • About the artist
    Joseph Nollekens, son of Joseph Francis Nollekens, a painter from Antwerp, was born in Dean Street, Soho. He studied under the sculptor Peter Scheemakers, before attending William Shipley’s drawing school on the Strand. In 1762 he travelled to Rome where he worked as an antiques dealer, restorer and copier, as well as sculpting portraits of English tourists. By 1771, he had returned to London and taken a house in Mortimer Street, Marylebone. He was elected a Royal Academician in 1772. He sculpted several church monuments and mythological subjects but it was his portrait busts which grew in popularity throughout his career. His final years were plagued by ill health and by 1816 he was almost deaf. He died at the age of 85.
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    Materials & Techniques
    marble, bust (as object name), marble bust
  • Details
    Title
    Unknown Man
    Date
    1807
    Medium
    Marble bust
    Dimensions
    height: 57.00 cm, width: 28.00 cm
    Acquisition
    Purchased from Gerald Kerin, May 1958
    Inscription
    verso: Nollekens 1807
    GAC number
    4616