King George I thumbnail 1
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Image of Gallery in South Kensington
On display at V&A South Kensington
Sculpture, Room 111, The Gilbert Bayes Gallery

King George I

Bust
ca. 1714 (made)
Artist/Maker
Place of origin

Throughout the ages artists and craftsmen have made virtuoso carvings as a display of their skill and ingenuity. Although ivory, wood and stone are relatively easy to carve, other materials such as gemstones are much more demanding. Most of these carvings were made for wealthy patrons and collectors, who delighted in the rarity of the material and quality of the carving. This ivory bust is made by David Le Marchand in Britain after 1714. Here he has used an exceptionally large piece of ivory and carved the face and wig of the monarch in a highly naturalistic style.
Theuerkauff remarked that the style of this bust could have been an influence on Johann Christoph Ludwig Lücke, and certainly it seems to prefigure a Germanic portrait style in ivory carving later in the eighteenth century.
David Le Marchand (1674-1726) was famed for his ivory carvings, particularly his portraits. He was a native of Dieppe, France, and came from a Huguenot, or Protestant, family. With the Revocation of the Edict of Nantes in 1685, and the consequent persecution of non-Catholics, he had to flee France. He was next recorded in Edinburgh in 1696, where he is documented as receiving official permission to open a shop and take on apprentices. He was in London by 1700, when he started to achieve a reputation for his portraits. Despite his wide circle of important patrons and his evident success, Le Marchand apparently died in poverty, though the exact reasons for this are unknown.
He is recognised as the most distinguished ivory carver to have worked in England in the early 18th century, a period when the art enjoyed a popularity unknown since the Middle Ages.


Object details
Categories
Object type
Materials and techniques
Ivory
Brief description
Bust, ivory, of King George I, by David Le Marchand, Britain, after 1714
Physical description
The head is turned slightly towards his left. We wears a high full wig bagged behind the shoulders, as was customary when on active service, and roman armour with lion's mask on the chest. His fleshy neck is naturalistically conveyed, and he is shown slightly smiling. Inscribed on the back.
Dimensions
  • Whole height: 37.5cm
  • Bust alone height: 25cm
  • Pedestal height: 13.5cm
Marks and inscriptions
'Le Marchand ad Viv. Scul.'
Object history
Bought from Alfred Spero for £175, 12A Regent Street, London, in 1931. Previously sold Waring and Gillow, 26 October 1920, lot 1075 ('a unique contemporary carved bust of Louis XVI...on ebonised pedestal').
Subject depicted
Summary
Throughout the ages artists and craftsmen have made virtuoso carvings as a display of their skill and ingenuity. Although ivory, wood and stone are relatively easy to carve, other materials such as gemstones are much more demanding. Most of these carvings were made for wealthy patrons and collectors, who delighted in the rarity of the material and quality of the carving. This ivory bust is made by David Le Marchand in Britain after 1714. Here he has used an exceptionally large piece of ivory and carved the face and wig of the monarch in a highly naturalistic style.

Theuerkauff remarked that the style of this bust could have been an influence on Johann Christoph Ludwig Lücke, and certainly it seems to prefigure a Germanic portrait style in ivory carving later in the eighteenth century.

David Le Marchand (1674-1726) was famed for his ivory carvings, particularly his portraits. He was a native of Dieppe, France, and came from a Huguenot, or Protestant, family. With the Revocation of the Edict of Nantes in 1685, and the consequent persecution of non-Catholics, he had to flee France. He was next recorded in Edinburgh in 1696, where he is documented as receiving official permission to open a shop and take on apprentices. He was in London by 1700, when he started to achieve a reputation for his portraits. Despite his wide circle of important patrons and his evident success, Le Marchand apparently died in poverty, though the exact reasons for this are unknown.

He is recognised as the most distinguished ivory carver to have worked in England in the early 18th century, a period when the art enjoyed a popularity unknown since the Middle Ages.

Bibliographic references
  • Avery, Charles. David le Marchand, 1674-1726 : "an ingenious man for carving in ivory". London : Lund Humphries, 1996, p. 70
  • Theuerkauff, C. 'Johann Christoph Ludwig Lücke- oberModell- Mesiter und Inventions- Meister- in Meissen Ober- Direktor zu Wien'. Alte und Moderne Kunst. 183, 1982, p. 32
  • Trusted, Marjorie ed. The Making of Sculpture. The materials and techniques of European Sculpture. London, 2007, p. 122, pl. 224
  • Review of the Principal Acquisitions during the Year 1931.London: Published under the Authority of the Board of Education, 1932, p. 3
  • Roscoe, I., with Sullivan, M.G. and Hardy, E., A Biographical Dictionary of Sculptors in Britain, 1660 to 1851, New Haven, 2009, p. 728
  • Trusted, Marjorie, Baroque & Later Ivories, Victoria & Albert Museum, London, 2013, cat. no. 143
Collection
Accession number
A.12-1931

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Record createdJanuary 9, 2004
Record URL
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