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Bust - Mary Salmon

Mary Salmon

  • Object:


  • Place of origin:

    London (possibly, cast)

  • Date:

    ca. 1750 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Cheere, John, born 1709 - died 1787 (probably)
    Cheere, Henry Sir, Bt, born 1703 - died 1781 (possibly)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Cast lead on wooden plinth

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

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

Object Type
This portrait bust was one of a pair, made along with the companion lead bust of Mary's husband, Dr W. H. Salmon. The sitters were not aristocrats, and the fact that they (or possibly members of their family) commissioned portraits of them of this sort indicates the sculpture's popularity among the professional classes at mid-century. The busts of Dr and Mrs Salmon were probably made to be displayed in their own home, perhaps on a chimneypiece. No other copies of this bust are known, although lead was a reproductive material, and this piece would have been cast from a mould.

Materials & Making
Lead sculptures were cast from models probably of clay or terracotta (literally 'baked clay'). A mould would have been made from the sculptor's original clay or terracotta model, and lead versions were then cast from it. Lead is a soft and malleable metal, and the subtlety of the original modelling in the clay is seen clearly in the surface here, especially in the lace bodice. Since lead was a relatively cheap material, such a bust was less costly than a carved marble one would have been. Henry Cheere (1703-1781) is likely to have been the sculptor, both because the socle (the small integral base on which the bust stands) replicates one at Belton House, Lincolnshire, known to be by him, and because his brother, John Cheere (1709-1787), produced many sculptures in lead, and could well have been involved in the production of this piece.

Physical description

Purchased together with A.19-1921 from the Rev. J.D.C. Wickham, 8 Landsdown Place East, Bath in 1921 for £170.

Place of Origin

London (possibly, cast)


ca. 1750 (made)


Cheere, John, born 1709 - died 1787 (probably)
Cheere, Henry Sir, Bt, born 1703 - died 1781 (possibly)

Materials and Techniques

Cast lead on wooden plinth


Height: 63.5 cm including socle, Width: 42.5 cm, Depth: 23 cm

Object history note

Probably modelled by Sir Henry Cheere (born in London, 1703, died there in 1781); possibly cast in London by John Cheere (born in London, 1709, died there in 1787)

Descriptive line

Bust, lead, of Mrs Mary Salmon, probably after a model by Sir Henry Cheere, cast perhaps by John Cheere, English ca. 1750

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. 65. cat. no. 88.
Whinny, Margaret. English Sculpture 1720-1830. London, 1971. p. 90.
The Age of Rococo: Art and Culture of the Eighteenth Century, Munich : H. Rinn, 1958

Labels and date

British Galleries:
Mary Salmon was the wife of a doctor in Holcombe, Somerset. Her bust was made as a pair to one of her husband. During the 18th century busts were increasingly made for members of the professional classes as well as members of the nobility. A lead bust cast from a terracotta model was considerably cheaper than one in marble. [27/03/2003]




Sculpture; Portraits


Sculpture Collection

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