Marble portrait bust of Philip Dormer Stanhope, 4th Earl of Chesterfield, by Joseph Wilton

England, AD 1757

Philip Dormer Stanhope (1694-1773), fourth earl of Chesterfield, was made Knight Companion of the Order of the Garter in 1730. This portrait bust shows him wearing the Order's ribbon and motto. Chesterfield completed a diplomatic mission in The Hague in 1745, after which he was appointed Lord Lieutenant of Ireland and Secretary of State for the Northern Department. Retiring in 1752, Chesterfield is best known for his letters to his son and godson, both called Philip Stanhope, which contain accounts of the civil and political life of the times.

Chesterfield commissioned this bust from the sculptor Joseph Wilton (1722-1803). Wilton trained in continental Europe, returning to London in 1755. He was appointed Keeper of the Duke of Richmond's Academy for young artists, was one of the founder members of the Royal Academy, and became its Keeper in 1780.

The portrait is both idealistic and realistic in style. Depicted without a wig, the sitter is not dressed in the classical manner, but the strong features and heroic manner do follow the antique tradition. The composition of this portrait bust, with waisted socle, coat-of-arms, motto and garter was greatly popular with Chesterfield, and used on other busts of the sitter by Roubiliac.

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More information


A. Dawson, Portrait sculpture, a catalogu (London, The British Museum Press, 1999)


Height: 65.000 cm

Museum number

M&ME 1777,6-20,1


Bequeathed by Sir Thomas Robinson (1777)


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