Artworks for sales

Joseph Nollekens

(London 1737 - London 1823)

William Pitt the Younger (1759-1806)

Signed: Nollekens F. 1808

Private Collection, United Kingdom


Private Collection, United Kingdom

Nollekens was born in London, the son of the Flemish genre painter Josef Frans Nollekens (1702–1748) who had moved from Antwerp to L ... ndon in 1733. The younger Nollekens studied first under another Flemish immigrant living in London, the sculptor Peter Scheemakers, before travelling to Rome about 1760.  There he worked in Bartolomeo Cavaceppi’s workshop where he restored and imitated ancient sculptures as well as terracottas by artist such as Andrea Della Robbia, Michelangelo and Giambologna.  In Rome Nollekens studied the antique and evolved his own Neoclassical style that would, in future, earn him many patrons and a very good living.

The notable sculptures he made in Rome included a marble of Timocles Before Alexanderof 1762, for which he was awarded fifty guineas by the Society of Arts.  In 1768 he produces a work noted for its exceptional accuracy and sensitivity - a copy of the antique Castor and Pollux made for Lord Anson.  He also produced portraits of Laurence Sterne and David Garrick, who were among the many important visitors stopping at the city on their Grand Tours and taking back as their mementos their sculpted portraits produced by Nollekens.

Returning to England in 1770, Nollekens quickly established a busy practice as a portrait sculptor, specializing in marble and plaster portrait busts. In 1771 he was elected an associate member of the London Royal Academy, and in 1772 a full member. The following year he completed his well-known statue of Venus (J Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles), by which time he was the most fashionable portrait sculptor of his day. In addition to King George III, his clients included many major British political figures, including, as here, William Pitt the Younger, Charles James Fox, the Duke of Bedford, Lord Canning, Lord Castlereagh, Lord Aberdeen, and Lord Liverpool, among many others. He also made busts of important artists including the American portrait painter Benjamin West (1738-1820). Many of these works reveal how strong and long lasting was his experience of Roman portrait busts of the late Republic.

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