Bust of the Duke of Wellington, 1852
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Height: 27cm (10.6in)
Patinated cast bronze head and shoulders portrait bust of the Duke of Wellington, wearing the Waterloo medal, raised on a turned socle base.
The present bust of Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington (1769-1852), Field-Marshal & Prime Minister, derives from a monumental marble bust by Matthew Noble (1817-1876). The marble was exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1852 and is thus believed to have fallen under the gaze of Wellington himself when he visited the Royal Academy exhibition on 28 July 1852. This reduced scale bronze version belongs to a group of castings by Noble produced after the Duke’s death on 14 September 1852 at Walmer Castle. One of these is in the U.K. Government Art Collection and is currently on display in the British Embassy in Paris.
Matthew Noble (1817-1876) was apprenticed to his father, a Lancashire stonemason, and came to the notice of a local landowner Sir John Johnstone of Hackness Hall. Johnstone sent him to London and as a pupil of the sculptor John Francis, Noble lived up to his patron's expectations, and started exhibiting at the Royal Academy in 1845. His first important public work was the statue of Tory Prime Minister Sir Robert Peel for St. George’s Hall, Liverpool (1853). Noble fulfilled many important commissions. He was well regarded in Tory circles and consequently developed a following amongst the party’s supporters, some of whom no doubt displayed busts such as the present example in their libraries or on their desks. His best known of public works are his Albert Memorial in Albert Square, Manchester (1862-67), his statues of Outram on the Victoria Embankment, and Lord Derby in Parliament Square. He also has work in both Westminster Abbey and St Paul's Cathedral.