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Stoneware bust of Prince Rupert

 

Height: 60.000 cm

M&ME 1871,6-13,1 (Pottery Catalogue F 3)

Room 46: Europe 1400-1800

    Stoneware bust of Prince Rupert

    London, England, about AD 1678

    Made at John Dwight's factory in Fulham

    Prince Rupert (1619-1682) was the grandson of King James I of England and VI of Scotland. He spent his early life in Holland, where he had an outstanding career as a soldier. During the English Civil War he fought for the Royalists in most of the major battles, and was promoted to general. After the Restoration of Charles II to the throne in 1660, he distinguished himself in a naval career, becoming First Lord of the Admiralty in 1673. Prince Rupert was also an inventor of several metalworking processes, among which was mezzotint engraving. He is buried in Henry VII's Chapel at Windsor Castle. This bust shows Prince Rupert wearing the collar and star of the Order of the Garter, of which he became a Knight in 1642.

    The bust was made in the factory of John Dwight (died 1703), one of the greatest of English potters. Dwight was experimenting with clays from 1661 in an attempt to make porcelain.

    The bust was perhaps modelled, in clay or possibly wood, by Edward Pearce, or Pierce (died 1695) for John Dwight. It is made up of several parts, some moulded and others formed by hand, and joined together. The name of the potter who made the bust is not known; it is unlikely that either Pearce or Dwight worked on it directly.

    Creating such a large sculpture in stoneware is a remarkable achievement. The difficulty can be seen in the irregular colour and the cracking caused by the heat, particularly on the face.

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

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    On display: Room 46: Europe 1400-1800

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