William Pitt (1759-1806) Prime Minister

  • About the work
    This marble bust is one of a number of copies of a prime version by Nollekens, signed and dated. From the bust the spectator gains some impression of Pitt’s aloof, somewhat remote and serious personality. He was a lonely man, known for his personal integrity. Devoting himself entirely to politics, he had little time for the social scene outside that arena and never married. Pitt was a statesman of exceptional precocity: in 1784 at the age of twenty-four, he became Britain's youngest Prime Minister, and when he left office eighteen years later, he was still younger than any other prime minister in history beginning his or her first term.  At the beginning of his term of office Pitt was derided by more senior politicians, particularly by Charles James Fox, who said that Pitt’s term would not last more than a couple of weeks.  
  • 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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  • Details
    William Pitt (1759-1806) Prime Minister
    Marble bust
    height: 72.00 cm, width: 50.00 cm, depth: 26.00 cm
    Purchased from Gerald Kerin, June 1949
    Earl of Jersey Collection; purchased from Gerald Kerin 1949
    GAC number