British Museum collections, £12.99
Height: 181.000 cm
Gift of Lord Frederick Campbell (1729-1816), the sitter's uncle
M&ME OA 10540
Room 46: Europe 1400-1800
Marble figure of Anne Seymour Damer by Giuseppe Ceracchi
London, England, around AD 1779
Portrayed as the Muse of Sculpture
Anne Seymour Conway (1749-1828) was the daughter of Field Marshall Henry Seymour Conway, a favourite cousin of the writer and collector Horace Walpole, and Caroline, Countess of Ailesbury. She married John Damer, eldest son of Lord Milton in 1767, and was widowed in 1776. Mrs Damer studied sculpture under Ceracchi (1751-1801), and exhibited pieces at the Royal Academy as a Visitor. She made sculptures for family and friends, carried out a number of commissions and donated works to public institutions. Mrs Damer travelled extensively through western Europe; she presented a gold box she received from Napoleon, and relief tiles from the Alhambra, to The British Museum.
Mrs Damer is here shown in antique dress, with sculptor's tools at her feet. It is not clear what the male figure with water jar signifies, but the portrait is likely to be an allegory of sculpture, and reflects Mrs Damer's interest in classical sculpture.
Ceracchi, a Roman, worked in England for both Robert Adam and William Chambers. In Philadelphia from 1791, he modelled busts of Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, George Washington and several others. He moved to Paris around 1794, where he plotted to murder First Consul Bonaparte, and was guillotined in 1801.
A. Dawson, Portrait sculpture, a catalogu (London, The British Museum Press, 1999)