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Portrait - Matthew Boulton
  • Matthew Boulton
    Rouw, Peter the younger, born 1771 - died 1852
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Matthew Boulton

  • Object:


  • Place of origin:

    London (made)

  • Date:

    1814 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Rouw, Peter the younger, born 1771 - died 1852 (maker)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Wax, tinted.

  • Credit Line:

    Given by Charles Vine

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    British Galleries, Room 118; The Wolfson Gallery, case 2

Object Type
This wax portrait would have been relatively cheap to make, and it could then be reproduced for the friends and family of the subject. The portrait of Boulton is posthumous; the artist, Rouw stated in a letter to the subject's son, M.R. Boulton, 'If any friend should wish to have a copy of your father's portrait the price will be fourteen guineas, as it has taken me more time than I expected it would when I gave you the amount.' A bill accompanying the letter mentions a portrait of the late M. Boulton 25 gns., a copy of the same 10 gns. Graham Pollard writing in the 'Numismatic Chronicle' (1970) commented: 'As 10 guineas was Rouw's standard price, the sum of 25 guineas must refer to the large-scale wax. The example in the Victoria and Albert Museum is signed and dated 1814. It is therefore one of the copies mentioned by Rouw, priced at fourteen guineas.'

Peter Rouw (1771-1852) was a successful wax modeller, who specialised in portrait waxes. He was also appointed modeller of gems and cameos to His Royal Highness the Prince Regent.

Matthew Boulton was a Birmingham industrialist whose ormolu and metalwork were renowned, and were exported abroad, especially to Russia. He was a friend and rival of Wedgwood in the field of luxury commodities.

Materials & Making
Wax portraits and figure groups were popular in Britain during the 18th and early 19th centuries. The malleability of the material meant that it could be modelled very naturalistically. As casts could easily be taken, and wax was relatively cheap, reproductions could be made and sold at low prices. Sometimes colour was added; pink colour of this portrait was favoured by Rouw and other portrait modellers. Some wax pieces were naturalistically coloured, and adorned with textiles or other additions, such as glass jewels, increasing the realism of the pieces.

Physical description

Portait relief of Matthew Boulton, framed.

Place of Origin

London (made)


1814 (made)


Rouw, Peter the younger, born 1771 - died 1852 (maker)

Materials and Techniques

Wax, tinted.

Marks and inscriptions

'P. Rouw sculptor London 1814'
Inscribed on the truncation, and on the back with a longer inscription


Diameter: 37 cm

Object history note

Modelled in London, after Boulton's death, by Peter Rouw the younger (born, 1770, died, 1852). Given by Charles Vine, Esc. in 1871.

Descriptive line

Medallion, wax relief, portrait of Matthew Boulton, by Peter Rouw, England, 1814

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

List of Objects in the Art Division, South Kensington, Acquired During the Year 1871, Arranged According to the Dates of Acquisition. London: Printed by George E. Eyre and William Spottiswoode for H.M.S.O., p. 84
Trusted, Marjorie. ed. The Making of Sculpture: the Materials and Techniques of European Sculpture. London: V&A Publications, 2007, p. 27, pl. 33
Angus Patterson, "A Timely Acquisition: The V&A's Matthew Boulton Pattern Book, ca. 1779", Journal of the Antique Metalware Society, Vol. 17, June 2009, p. 58, ill.

Labels and date

British Galleries:
Boulton's Soho factory attracted informed visitors from all over the world. In Britain, his intellectual circle included a discussion group formed around 1764 and known as the Lunar Society. Members included the ceramic manufacturer Josiah Wedgwood, the chemist Joseph Priestly, the President of the Royal Society, Sir Joseph Banks an the astronomer Sir William Herschel. [27/03/2003]






Sculpture Collection

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