Charles II thumbnail 1
Charles II thumbnail 2
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Image of Gallery in South Kensington
On display at V&A South Kensington
British Galleries, Room 56, The Djanogly Gallery

Charles II

Portrait Bust
1684 (made)
Artist/Maker
Place Of Origin

Object Type
This sculpture was almost certainly influenced by the similarly flamboyant portrait of Francesco d'Este by Bernini in Modena. Another version, dated 1682, is at Burghley House, Stamford, Lincolnshire.

Subject Depicted
This over-life size bust, dated 1684, was probably inspired by an engraved or painted source. It may be based on a portrait of Charles II dating from about 1670, by the Dutch painter Simon Verelst.

People
Honoré‚ (Onorato) Pelle (active 1679-1994) is thought to have spent his early years in Marseilles, and is likely to have trained under the French sculptor and painter Pierre Puget (1620-1694). Pelle seems to have spent most of his working life in Genoa, where he undertook commissions for churches, including a silver statuette of St John the Baptist.

Charles II had spent much of his youth on the Continent, and favoured continental arists. Although it is not known how or why this bust was commissioned, it is clearly in the tradition of flamboyant and imposing portraits of monarchs, and would have unambiguously asserted the King's status.


object details
Categories
Object Type
Materials and Techniques
Carved marble
Brief Description
Bust, marble, of Charles II, by the French sculptor Honoré Pelle, French, made in Genoa, 1684
Physical Description
This large marble bust represents the King in the last years of his life. His face, framed by a large wig, is turned sharply towards his right side, looking forward with an air of tragic weariness. He is represented wearing armour and a lace cravat, with draperies billowing around him.
Dimensions
  • Height: 128.9cm
  • Width: 104cm (Approximate)
  • Depth: 61cm (Approximate)
  • Width: 32cm (Base)
  • Depth: 32cm (Base)
Style
Marks and Inscriptions
'1684 HONORE PELLE, F.' (Signature; on truncated right arm; Pelle, Honoré; 1684)
Gallery Label
  • A smaller version of this portrait, in stone, signed and dated 1682, is on an exterior balcony at Burghley House, Stamford. Honoré Pelle, who worked chiefly in Genoa, is not known to have visited England and the the two busts of Charles II were almost certainly executed after a painting. The style suggests that Pelle was acquainted with Bernini's bust of Francesco d'Este at Modena.(Unknown)
  • This grand baroque image presents the king in the dramatic manner used by Bernini for his portraits of European rulers such as Louis XIV. It was probably based on a painted portrait and carved by the French sculptor in Genoa where most of his other work remains. Although its original setting is unknown it was almost certainly intended for an architectural context; another version of 1682 was placed on the balcony overlooking the courtyard at Burleigh House, Stamford.(ca.1989-1992)
Credit line
Given by Mr Henry Durlacher
Object history
Unfortunately nothing is known of the circumstances of the original commission; this version was completed only the year before the King died. Little is known of Pelle, who seems to have spent his working life in Genoa, perhaps after training in Rome. He almost certainly never came to England, and the bust was probably based upon a painting or an engraving after a painting. This sometimes happened when the subject could not sit for the artist, most famously when Charles I was sculpted by Bernini in Rome, the bust in that instance being based upon a painting sent over by the Court Painter Van Dyck.



Given by Mr Henry Durlacher.



Historical significance: Charles II is portrayed in a dramatic and animated fashion, his head turned to one side, an elaborate wig cascading down over his lace cravat and billowing drapery. Such grand Baroque images of monarchs and powerful aristocrats were more common in seventeenth century France than in England. This piece may have been inspired by Bernini, particularly works such as his bust of Louis XIV at Versailles.
Historical context
It is likely that the bust was intended for an architectural setting. Another version of the bust, dated two years earlier, is set on a balcony in a courtyard at Burghley House, Stamford, Lincolnshire.
Production
Pelle is not known to have visited England and the bust was almost certainly executed, after a painting, in Genoa.
Subject depicted
Summary
Object Type
This sculpture was almost certainly influenced by the similarly flamboyant portrait of Francesco d'Este by Bernini in Modena. Another version, dated 1682, is at Burghley House, Stamford, Lincolnshire.

Subject Depicted
This over-life size bust, dated 1684, was probably inspired by an engraved or painted source. It may be based on a portrait of Charles II dating from about 1670, by the Dutch painter Simon Verelst.

People
Honoré‚ (Onorato) Pelle (active 1679-1994) is thought to have spent his early years in Marseilles, and is likely to have trained under the French sculptor and painter Pierre Puget (1620-1694). Pelle seems to have spent most of his working life in Genoa, where he undertook commissions for churches, including a silver statuette of St John the Baptist.

Charles II had spent much of his youth on the Continent, and favoured continental arists. Although it is not known how or why this bust was commissioned, it is clearly in the tradition of flamboyant and imposing portraits of monarchs, and would have unambiguously asserted the King's status.
Bibliographic References
  • Williamson, Paul. European Sculpture at the Victoria and Albert Museum. London: Victoria and Albert Museum, 1996, p. 135
  • Whinney, Margaret. Sculpture in Britain 1530-1830. London, 1988 (second edition, Revised by John Physick), p. 440, n. 4
  • Maclagan, Eric, 'A Bust of Charles II by Honoré Pelle' in Architectural Review (August 1913), pp. 33-4
  • Herding, K., Pierre Puget (Berlin, 1980), no. 465
  • Boccardo, P., La Scultura a Genoa e in Liguria (Genoa, 1989), pp. 207-8, fig. 214
  • List of Objects in the Art Division, South Kensington Museum acquired during the Year 1881. London, 1882, p. 23
  • Catalogue of the Special Exhibition of Works of Art of the mediaeval, renaissance and more modern period, on loan at the South Kensington Museum June 1862. ed. Robinson, J.C, London, 1863
  • Pevsner, N. Buildings of England, Sussex, 1977, p. 296, ill. 45a
  • Avery, Charles, 'Sculpture gone wild. Bernini and the English', in Grell, C and Stanic, M ed. Le Bernin et l'Europe. Du baroque triumphant à l'âge romantique. Sorbonne, 2002, pp. 161-78
  • Soprani, Raffaello and Ratti, Carlo Giuseppe. Vite de' pittori, scultori ed architetti genovesi. 1768, II, p. 326
  • Lagsange, Leon. 'Monsei Onorato', in Archives de l'art francais. V, 1857-8, p. 186
  • Lami, S. Dictionnaire des Sculpteurs de l'ecole francaise sous la regne de Louis XIV.
  • Reau, L. Les Sculpteurs francais en Italie. Paris, 1945, p. 33
  • Delogu. Sculture italiana del 1600 e 1700. Florence, 1932, p. 43
  • Rietti Giuliette Marsili. Le corrente pugetiane a Genova. Thesis
  • Malgouyres, Philippe, Ivoires de la renaissance et des temps modernes. La collection du musée du Louvre, Paris, 2010, p. 50
Collection
Accession Number
239-1881

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record createdAugust 20, 1998
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