[Thanks to Jonathan Ford, Secretary of the Athenæum Club, for generously sharing John Kenworthy-Browne's work with the readers of the Victorian Web. George P. Landow adapted A Temple of British Worthies for the Web.]
Sir Francis Bacon, 1st Lord Verulam (1561-1626)
Supplied by P Sarti, 1830. On 7 May 1833 the bust was in the Drawing Room, as a pendant to the Newton. It may have been cast from the marble bust by Roubiliac which stands at the south end of the Wren Library, Cambridge, as a pair to Roubiliac’s bust of Newton (cf no 8). In May 1833, the plaster busts were on the chimneypieces at either end of the Drawing Room, and were moved to the Hall in 1846. The Bacon then disappears from the records. John Cheere sold a reduced version in plaster of the Trinity marble, of which a ‘bronzed’ example is at the Castle Museum, York.
John Flaxman RA (1755-1826
Provenance unknown. A plaster cast of Flaxman is included in the list of busts of 1833 on the east bookcases, but it is not mentioned again in the records. It was cast, most probably, from a marble bust made by Flaxman’s pupil Edward Hodges Baily RA (1788-1867), which was exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1823. The marble bust belonged to Sir Thomas Lawrence, and was included in his posthumous sale at Christie’s, 19 June 1830 (lot 388, sold to Sir C. Bunell for £31.10s). It is now at the Royal Academy, and a plaster cast (1869) is in the Royal Academy Octagon.
Alexander Pope (1688-1744
Supplied by P Sarti, 1830. This is not the marble bust by Rysbrack which was bequeathed to the Club in 1868 (p 28) but a plaster based almost certainly on the bust by Roubiliac. There is similar bust in the Wren Library, Cambridge, and another, bronzed, was formerly at Shardeloes and now at Birmingham (Baker, 128, 155, fig.66). In 1833, the Athenæum bust was paired with that of Locke. It was moved downstairs in 1846, and there is no further mention of it.
Alexander Pope (1688-1744
Acquired by 1830 Tait, no. 930. On 23 February 1830, the Dean and Chapter of St Paul’s gave permission for Sarti to cast a plaster bust in their possession, but Sarti’ss 1830 bill includes only ‘Repairing and painting the Bust of Sir C Wren, 12s’. Curiously, no bust is known to have then been at St Paul’s. The Athenæum’s missing bust is likely to have been a cast of the famous bust by Pearce at the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford.
In 1833 the busts of Wren and Reynolds were on brackets on either side of the central fireplace. In 1846 they were moved to the Staircase Hall. After that there is no mention of the Wren.
A cast of the Ashmolean bust is in the Octagon (1869) at the Royal Academy, and another now belongs to the Chapter of St Paul’s Cathedral.
Other sections of A Temple of British Worthies: The Historic Portrait Busts in the Athenæum
- A Catalogue of the Plaster Busts at the Athenæum
- Other Portrait Busts
- Acknowledgments and Select Bibliography
- The Bill from P Sarti, January-February 1830
- From the Minutes of the General Committee
Last modified 24 November 2011