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  • Title
    Plaster copy of a terracotta Davenant bust of William Shakespeare made by Louis Francois Roubiliac
  • Call number
    XR 81
  • Level of description
  • Date

    after 1834
  • Type of material
  • Reference code
  • Physical Description
    1 bust - plaster
  • Collection history
    Presented to the Australian Museum in 1859 by Sir Richard Owen through Sir William Macarthur; transferred to the Art Gallery of New South Wales in 1912. Reference: Art Gallery minutes, 22 July 1955
  • Scope and Content
    A plaster copy of Louis Francois Roubiliac’s 18th-century terracotta ‘Davenant bust’ of William Shakespeare, head slightly to left, wearing a shirt with a large elaborate lace collar over a jacket which is covered by a robe.
  • Access Conditions

    Access via appointment
  • Copying Conditions
    Out of copyright:
    Please acknowledge:: State Reference Library, State Library of New South Wales
  • Original held by
    Originals held by British Library, 1762 and the Garrick Club, 1855.
  • Description source

    Title devised by cataloguer based on notes provided by Marcus Risdell, Curator at the Garrick Club Collections & Library in 2007
  • General note

    The bust is part of the State Reference Library collection.
    Digital order no:Album ID : 862020
  • Attributions / conjectures

    Ascribed to Louis-Francois Roubiliac by the Art Gallery of New South Wales.
    The Davenant Bust, named after the first manager of the Theatre Royal, Lincoln’s Inn, was rescued during building works at the Royal College of Surgeons by William Clift, the first curator of the Hunterian Museum, from a yard at the back of number 39 Lincoln’s Inn Fields in March 1834.

    The Duke of Devonshire purchased and presented it to the Garrick Club in 1855. At the time two copies were made in plaster: one was lost with Crystal Palace; the other ended up in the Shakespeare Library at the Memorial Theatre in Stratford, where it was exhibited alongside a painting of the so-called Darmstadt death-mask.

    A second, virtually identical terracotta bust is held by the British Museum. It was purchased directly from the studio-sale of the Huguenot sculptor Louis François Roubiliac, following his death in 1762. Previously the Roubiliac bust had been dated alongside David Garrick’s commission of a statue of Shakespeare for his Temple at Hampton, completed in 1758. The history of the theatre however suggests an earlier date as it ceased to be used as such in 1744. In fact the last attempt to put on a full dramatic season there was in 1742-43.

    Risdell, Marcus. Abstract for: Unmasking the “Davenant Bust'. 2007
  • Date note

    Date of production (earliest 1834) estimated from the date the Davenant bust was rescued by William Clift from Lincoln’s Inn Fields. Date of production (latest 1856) estimated from the date it was presented to the Garrick Club.
  • Subject
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