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Bust - Unknown man
  • Unknown man
    Scheemakers, Peter , born 1691 - died 1781
  • Enlarge image

Unknown man

  • Object:


  • Place of origin:

    England (made)

  • Date:

    ca. 1740 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Scheemakers, Peter , born 1691 - died 1781 (attributed to)

  • Materials and Techniques:


  • Credit Line:

    Bequeathed by Rupert Gunnis

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    British Galleries, Room 52, The George Levy Gallery, case WE

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.

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.

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.

Place of Origin

England (made)


ca. 1740 (made)


Scheemakers, Peter , born 1691 - died 1781 (attributed to)

Materials and Techniques



Height: 55.5 cm

Object history note

Bequeathed by Rupert Gunnis in 1965.

Descriptive line

Bust, marble, Unknown man, ascribed to Peter Scheemakers, England, ca. 1740

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

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.

Labels and date

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]




Sculpture; Portraits


Sculpture Collection

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