A Roubiliac bust acquired by the Louvre

1. Louis-François Roubiliac (1702-1762)
Bust of Philipe Domer Stanhope,
4th Earl of Chesterfield

Bronze on a marble base - H. 63 cm
Paris, Musée du Louvre
Photo : Sotheby’s

5/10/10 – Acquisition – Paris, Musée du Louvre – A French artist, who received his training perhaps in the Coustous’ workshop, Louis-François Roubiliac left for London in 1730 to then become one of the most famous 18th century English sculptors. His work is made up essentially of funerary monuments (several are at Westminster Abbey) and portraits.

The Louvre purchased a bronze bust by Roubiliac representing Lord Stanhope, 4th Earl of Chesterfield (ill. 1), at Sotheby’s London last 14 July for 115.250 £ (including charges). This is the first work by the artist to join the Louvre or, in fact, any French public collection.
Chesterfield was both a politician (member of the House of Commons, then the House of Lords), diplomat (he served as ambassador to The Hague twice) and writer. Initially close to Horace Walpole, he joined the opposition after returning from his first stay at The Hague then was appointed governor of Ireland (Lord-Lieutenant) when he finished his second ambassadorship in the Netherlands. Also known for his essays, he became famous notably for the Letters to his Son, published for the first time in 1774 after his death.

There are only two known bronze busts by Roubiliac (or under his supervision) : that of Alexander Pope, which recently resurfaced at Sotheby’s [1] and that of Chesterfield, with two other versions, one at the Victoria & Albert Museum, the other at the castle in Dublin, signed and dated 1746. It would seem therefore that this portrait was probably commissioned directly by Lord Stanhope from the artist when he was governor in Dublin, between July 1745 and 1746. A marble version resides at the National Portrait Gallery.

Didier Rykner, mardi 5 octobre 2010


[1] In London, on 6 July 2007.

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