Unknown man thumbnail 1
Image of Gallery in South Kensington
On display at V&A South Kensington
British Galleries, Room 52, The George Levy Gallery

Unknown man

Bust
ca. 1740 (made)
Artist/Maker
Place of origin

Object Type
This bust of a man is in a classicising style particularly popular in the mid-18th century. The toga the sitter wears denotes his public and political role, while also giving a classical timelessness to the portrait. The bust may have been a commission for a domestic interior, or possibly it is a commemorative bust, perhaps a version of one for a funerary monument, and therefore made posthumously.

People
Peter Scheemakers (1691-1781) was born in Antwerp and trained under his father, the sculptor Peter Scheemaekers the Elder (1652-1714). Scheemakers was in London by 1721, where he first collaborated with Pieter-Denis Plumier (1688-1721) and Laurent Delvaux (1696-1778) on the monument to John Sheffield, 1st Duke of Buckingham, for Westminster Abbey. Scheemakers continued in partnership with Delvaux, carving funerary monuments as well as garden statuary. They went together to Rome in 1728, where Scheemakers remained for two years before returning to England in 1730 and setting up an independent workshop. He spent the rest of his working life in England, concentrating on monuments and portrait busts.

Materials & Making
Marble busts were among the most prestigious types of portrait undertaken in Britain during the18th century. Marble, a relatively expensive material, was imported, usually from Italy via The Netherlands, since there are no marble quarries in this country. The skills needed to carve this material were often learned abroad, where an aspiring artist would probably gain his most important training assisting an established sculptor.

Object details

Categories
Object type
TitleUnknown man (generic title)
Materials and techniques
Marble
Brief description
Bust, marble, Unknown man, ascribed to Peter Scheemakers, England, ca. 1740
Physical description
The sitter's head is turned slightly to his left. His hair is short, in Roman style, and he wears a toga-like cloak over a tunic with a round neck. The moulded base is carved separately.
Dimensions
  • Height: 55.5cm
80 estimate from Tony Ryan Dimensions checked: Measured; 17/07/2000 by AS This bust was (originally) on a socle mounted on a box. The current dimensions taken without socle or base and when bust lying down
Gallery label
British Galleries: By the mid-18th century, busts showing a sitter dressed in a Roman toga were as familiar as those showing contemporary figures in informal dress. Large workshops such as that run by Peter Scheemakers produced images using variants of stock patterns.(27/03/2003)
Credit line
Bequeathed by Rupert Gunnis
Object history
Bequeathed by Rupert Gunnis in 1965.
Summary
Object Type
This bust of a man is in a classicising style particularly popular in the mid-18th century. The toga the sitter wears denotes his public and political role, while also giving a classical timelessness to the portrait. The bust may have been a commission for a domestic interior, or possibly it is a commemorative bust, perhaps a version of one for a funerary monument, and therefore made posthumously.

People
Peter Scheemakers (1691-1781) was born in Antwerp and trained under his father, the sculptor Peter Scheemaekers the Elder (1652-1714). Scheemakers was in London by 1721, where he first collaborated with Pieter-Denis Plumier (1688-1721) and Laurent Delvaux (1696-1778) on the monument to John Sheffield, 1st Duke of Buckingham, for Westminster Abbey. Scheemakers continued in partnership with Delvaux, carving funerary monuments as well as garden statuary. They went together to Rome in 1728, where Scheemakers remained for two years before returning to England in 1730 and setting up an independent workshop. He spent the rest of his working life in England, concentrating on monuments and portrait busts.

Materials & Making
Marble busts were among the most prestigious types of portrait undertaken in Britain during the18th century. Marble, a relatively expensive material, was imported, usually from Italy via The Netherlands, since there are no marble quarries in this country. The skills needed to carve this material were often learned abroad, where an aspiring artist would probably gain his most important training assisting an established sculptor.
Bibliographic references
  • Bilbey, Diane with Trusted, Marjorie. British Sculpture 1470 to 2000. A Concise Catalogue of the Collection at the Victoria and Albert Museum London, 2002, p. 150. cat. no. 205
  • Knox, T. 'Portrait of a Collector: Rupert Gunnis at Hungershall Lodge amd his Bequest to the Victoria and Albert Museum', Sculpture Journal, II, 1998, pp. 85-96, n. 13.
Collection
Accession number
A.61-1965

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Record createdFebruary 26, 2003
Record URL
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