Historical Portraits Picture Archive

Portrait Bust of William Shakespeare Late 18th/Early 19th Century

After Louis Francois Roubiliac (1695-1762) 

Portrait Bust of William Shakespeare, After Louis Francois Roubiliac (1695-1762)
18th Century
52 cm, 20.5 inches high including plinth
The burgeoning fame of William Shakespeare, galvanised by actors such as David Garrick and events such as his Shakespeare Festival at Stratford upon Avon in 1769, saw the playwright firmly established as one of the leading national icons by the nineteenth century, which unassailable position ‘The Bard’ has retained ever since. This marble bust would perhaps have been produced to sit among a pantheon of worthies in a patron's library, or in a garden temple like Garrick’s own life-sized statue of Shakespeare by Roubiliac [British Museum], after which the present bust is taken. In the late eighteenth century, Rysbrack and Roubiliac, together with sculptors such as Cheere and Scheemakers, competed to create the definitive portrait bust of Shakespeare. All of their efforts were modelled on the ‘Chandos’ life portrait [now in the National Portrait Gallery] and the near contemporary bust over Shakespeare’s tomb at Stratford erected by his friends.
Philip Mould Ltd, 18-19 Pall Mall, London, SW1Y 5LU.Copyright Philip Mould Ltd.