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Figure - Modesty
  • Modesty
    Nollekens, Joseph Frans, born 1737 - died 1823
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  • Object:


  • Place of origin:

    England (made)

  • Date:

    ca. 1800 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Nollekens, Joseph Frans, born 1737 - died 1823 (maker)

  • Materials and Techniques:


  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    Sculpture, Room 22, The Dorothy and Michael Hintze Galleries, case 2

This small terracotta study, which is probably not related to any known finished work, exemplifies Nollekens's facility in handling clay. It may have been exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1800 and purchased, after Nollekens's death, by another sculptor, Peter Rouw, when it appeared in the sale of Nollekens's studio effects held on 4 July, 1823.

Nollekens was a prolific sculptor of portrait busts and operated a thriving workshop in London. He spent eight years in Rome from 1762 to 1770, where he worked with Bartolomeo Cavaceppi restoring and copying antique marbles. One of these copies, his group of Castor and Pollux, is in the Museum's collection (Museum no. A.59-1940). He probably perfected his modelling of clay while he was in Rome and started to experiment in making small figures or groups. These occasionally became models for large-scale finished marbles, but many, like this one, still in his studio at his death, were simply studies in their own right, which he called pensieri (thoughts).

Physical description

Terracotta sketch model, Venus standing on a shell. A standing woman gathers drapery about her with her left hand. Her right arm is raised, forearm and hand missing.

Place of Origin

England (made)


ca. 1800 (made)


Nollekens, Joseph Frans, born 1737 - died 1823 (maker)

Materials and Techniques



Height: 21 cm

Object history note

Sold on the second day of Christie's sale of Nollekens's studio effects, held on 4 July 1823, lot 40, and purchased by the sculptor Peter Rouw. Probably given by Mr Rouw to Mrs C.H. Smith. Thence by descent to Miss Zoë Gordon Smith. Given by Miss Zoë Gordon-Smith together with A.5-1944 to A.8-1944 and A.10-1944.

Descriptive line

Figure, sketch model, terracotta, Venus standing on a shell, by Joseph Nollekens, England, probably ca. 1800

Bibliographic References (Citation, Note/Abstract, NAL no)

Illustrated in Burlington Magazine, LXXXV, September 1944, p. 222.
Bilbey, Diane with Trusted, Marjorie. British Sculpture 1470 to 2000. A Concise Catalogue of the Collection at the Victoria and Albert Museum. London: V& A Publications, 2002. pp. 103. cat. no. 140



Subjects depicted



Sculpture; Myths & Legends


Sculpture Collection

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