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Bust -  Alexander Pope
  • Alexander Pope
    Roubiliac, Louis-François, born 1702 - died 1762
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Alexander Pope

  • Object:


  • Place of origin:

    England (made)

  • Date:

    18th century (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Roubiliac, Louis-François, born 1702 - died 1762 (maker)

  • Materials and Techniques:


  • Credit Line:

    Given by Dr W. L. Hildburgh FSA

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    British Galleries, Room 52, The George Levy Gallery []

Object Type
This portrait bust of the poet Alexander Pope (1688-1744) is one of several versions associated with Roubiliac, and was probably carved by an assistant in his workshop. Although its early provenance is uncertain, it may once have formed part of a series of busts of great writers and thinkers.

Alexander Pope was one of the great satirical poets of his day, but also moved in high society. He was on close terms with many aristocratic patrons and connoisseurs, notably the Palladian architect Richard Boyle, 3rd Earl of Burlington, and Baron Cobham of Stowe in Buckinghamshire. Pope had suffered from chronic ill health since his youth, and Sir Joshua Reynolds remarked that Roubiliac had observed the poet's 'countenance was that of a person who had been much afflicted with headache, and that he should have known the fact from the contracted appearance of the skin beneath his eyebrows, though he had not been otherwise apprised of it'.

Materials & Making
Marble busts were among the most prestigious types of portrait undertaken in Britain during the 18th century. The 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 marble were also commonly learned abroad, where an aspiring artist would probably gain his most important training assisting an established sculptor.

Physical description

The subject who is wigless look half left. Shoulders and breast are draped simply.

Place of Origin

England (made)


18th century (made)


Roubiliac, Louis-François, born 1702 - died 1762 (maker)

Materials and Techniques



Height: 62.7 cm with pedestal, Width: 45 cm, Depth: 25 cm

Object history note

Carved in England by Louis-François Roubiliac (born in Lyon, France, 1702, died in London, 1762).
Originally in the possession of Lady Neave, Dagenham Hall, Dagenham, Essex. Purchased from her by Bert Crowther Esq., Syon Lodge, Busche Corner, Isleworth, Middlesex and subsequently sold to Dr. W.L. Hildburgh F.S.A. Given by Dr Hildburgh to the Museum in 1947.

Descriptive line

Bust, marble, Alexander Pope, by Louis François Roubiliac, English, from a model of about 1738

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

Bilbey, Diane and Trusted Marjorie. British Sculpture 1470 to 2000. A Concise Catalogue of the Collection at the Victoria and Albert Museum. London, 2002. p. 114. cat. no. 155.
Whinny, M. English Sculpture 1720-1830. London. 1971. pp. 80-82.
Wimsatt, W. K. The portraits of Alexander Pope. New Haven and London, 1965. pp. 250-251. illus. 57-61.3.
Noad, A. S. Les Anglais Rococo: the Georgian French. Art News. 49. May 1950. pp. 30-35.
Cf. Curtis, P., Friedman, T. eds. Leeds' sculpture collections: illustrated concise catalogue. Leeds, 1996. p. 2. inv. no. 6/42.
Cf. Sotheby's sale catalogue. July 5th 1990. London. no. 57.
Cf. Christie's sale catalogue, Samuel Rogers sale. 28 April. lot. 83.

Labels and date

British Galleries:
This bust represents the poet and satirist, Alexander Pope (1688-1744). Such portraits of celebrated men, especially writers, were popular in the 18th century. They were often based on larger portrait busts, as was this one. Louis-François Roubiliac carved this image several times in marble. [27/03/2003]

Production Note

From a model of about 1738




Sculpture; Portraits


Sculpture Collection

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