Large Library Bust of William Pitt the Younger, 1815
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Height: 72cm (28in)
Painted plaster bust after Joseph Nollekens, R.A. (1737-1823), portrayed togate, and Inscribed ‘PITT’ to the reverse.
Arguably England’s greatest statesman, Pitt (1759-1806) was the second son of the 1st Earl of Chatham. In 1783 he became Prime Minister when only twenty-five years of age. He remained eighteen years in office. During his ministry he passed his famous India Bill, establishing a Board of Control over the East India Company, ably conducted the administration of Government during the turmoil of the French Revolution, restored order in Ireland after the rebellion of 1798 and in 1800 passed the bill for the Union of Great Britain and Ireland. He was again Prime Minister from 1804 to 1806, when he died exhausted by a peculiarly threatening international situation and the demands of an office whose modern conception he helped to establish. It was said that it was the news of the defeat of the Austrians and Russians by Napoleon at Austerlitz that provided the mortal blow. He was the first Prime Minister since the beginning of the George III’s reign who had possessed the entire confidence of the King and the nation.
After Pitt's death, London-born sculptor Joseph Nollekens, R.A., won the commission for a full length statue for the Senate House at Pitt’s alma mater Cambridge University. Nolleken’s choice of classical garb for Pitt recalled Marcus Tullius Cicero (106 BC - 43 BC). In his narrative of the history of the Roman Republic, Cicero upheld the toga as a sartorial metaphor for the legitimate government of the senate as opposed to authority bestowed by the army as represented by military uniform and weapons. The popularity of Nolleken’s statue, resulted in the sculptor executing more that seventy busts in marble, and a further six hundred plaster casts.