- Museum number
Stoneware portrait bust of Prince Rupert (1619-1682) made at the factory of John Dwight (d. 1703) and probably modelled by Edward Pearce (d. 1695), moulded, partly gilt, life size, wearing an elaborate curly wig and dressed in a lace collar over the robe of the Order of the Garter. Across his chest is the collar and jewel of the Order.
Height: 60 centimetres
Height: 24 inches
Width: 55.50 centimetres (max.)
- Curator's comments
Probably modelled by Edward Pierce (or Pearce) junior. No moulds survive, and no other bust is known, although some fragments of another are known (see Dawson, figs 51,52, pp182-4. The bust remained in family possession until the middle of the 19th century.
Literature: Anon (C.W.Reynolds), Fulham pottery, 'Art Journal', October 1862, p. 204, "a bust of Charles II"; W. Chaffers, The earliest porcelain manufactory in England and imitation of Cologne ware in the seventeenth century. Fulham, 'Art Journal', June 1865, pp. 179-81, see p. 181, "A large bust of Charles II, life-size wearing the Order of the George and collar"; L. Jewitt, 'The Ceramic Art of Great Britain', London, 1878, p. 129; A. H. Church, 'English Earthenware', London, 1884, fig. 33; W. Burton, 'English Earthenware and Stoneware', London, 1903, pp. 42-3; R. L. Hobson, 'Catalogue of the English Pottery in the Department of British and Medieval Antiquities and Ethnography in the British Museum', London, 1903, F 3, pl. 14; W. B. Honey, 'English Pottery and Porcelain', London, 1933, p. 56; G. H. Tait, Outstanding pieces in the English ceramic collection of the British Museum, 'Transactions of the English Ceramic Circle', vol. IV, pt 3 (1957), p. 48, fig. 3; M. Bimson, John Dwight, 'Transactions of the English Ceramic Circle', vol. V, pt 2 (1961), p. 101, pl. 113a; D. Haselgrove and J. Murray, John Dwight's Fulham pottery 1672-1978: a collection of documentary sources, 'Journal of Ceramic History', Stoke-on-Trent, 1979, XI, frontis., pp. 254-5; A. Oswald, R. J. C. Hildyard and R. G. Hughes, 'English Brown Stoneware 1670-1820', London, 1982, p. 28, n. 37; M. Caygill, 'Treasures of the British Museum', London, 1985, p. 214; C. Green, 'John Dwight's Fulham Pottery, Excavations 1971-1979', 1999, type. 62, pp. 86-90, fig. 69.
Displayed: 1888, English Ceramic Ante-Room ('Guide', 1888, p.4); 1904, Ceramic Gallery ([R. L. Hobson], 'Guide', 1904, p.41; 2nd edn, 1910, p. 43; 3rd edn, 1923, p. 43); probably c. 1920-70, King Edward VII Gallery; c. 1971-91, Renaissance Corridor; 1994, Gallery 46, "Europe 1400-1800".
Prince Rupert(1) was born in Prague, the third son of Elizabeth, daughter of King James I of England and VI of Scotland and Frederick V, Elector Palatine. His parents were briefly King and Queen of Bohemia from November 1619 until November 1620. Rupert spent his youth in The Hague and Leiden, where he was enrolled in the university at the age of ten. At thirteen and a half he fought his first campaign under the Stadholder Frederick Henry in the siege of Rheinberg. In 1635 his bravery in the campaign in Brabant (Low Countries) was noted. He visited England in 1636 for fifteen months and graduated MA in the University of Oxford. He took part in the siege of Breda, 1637, and was captured during the invasion of Westphalia in the following year. He was imprisoned at Linz for three years. During the English Civil War, he fought in most of the major battles, including Marston Moor and Naseby, as one of Charles I's generals, and was created Earl of Holderness and Duke of Cumberland in 1644. After the collapse of the siege of Oxford he was ordered to leave the country. Before returning in 1660, when he was made a privy councillor, he fought in engagements at sea both in Europe and in the West Indies. His later career in England was distinguished; he was made Admiral of the Fleet, 1673, and First Lord of the Admiralty, 1673-9. Prince Rupert was also a fertile inventor, particularly of various metalworking processes, amongst them mezzotint engraving, and took out several patents. He is buried in Henry VII 's Chapel, Windsor.
This lifesize bust, which was initially identified as King Charles II when it emerged from Dwight family possession in 1862, is based on an engraving by Abraham Blooteling, in turn copied from Lely's portrait.(2) It is grey in colour with pale brownish areas. These probably represent spots where the fire in the kiln has been oxygen-rich, rather than reducing. There are traces of colourless glaze in places. The sitter, his head adorned by an elaborate wig and turned slightly to proper right, is shown wearing the collar and star of the Order of the Garter, bestowed in Spring 1642, a lace jabot and rather stiff drapery. The bust is hollow, and in parts it is of thick section (see below).(3) There is a wooden support at the back either side of the central stoneware support, which is of later date than the bust itself, and the lower area is built up with plaster. It is an extraordinary achievement by one of Britain's greatest potters and has been extensively published as a work of ceramic art.
John Dwight (d. 1703) attended Christ Church, Oxford, in 1661. In 1668 he was serving as Registrar to Bishop Wilkins of Chester, who was Secretary of the Royal Society, one of whose Vice-Presidents was Prince Rupert. The Prince's assistance may have helped Dwight obtain the first of his patents in 1672 for the manufacture of 'porcelain'.(4)
Between December 1671 and May 1673 he established a stoneware factory at Fulham.(5) Although thirty fragments matching this bust have been recovered from the site;(6) no other complete bust is known and no record of the modeller of the work, which must surely have been commissioned, has been traced. It is highly unlikely that, as was once thought, Dwight himself modelled the bust. In the late seventeenth century there were few native-born sculptors, but although accomplished, this bust is untypical of works by artists from Italy or the Low Countries. An attribution to Grinling Gibbons, who was born in Rotterdam, was put forward by S. K. Greenslade, but as Mrs Esdaile pointed out, he was a carver and not a modeller.(7) More recent research(8) has revealed that he was in partnership with Arnold Quellin, who may have been responsible for several of the busts for monuments that came from his workshop. The current attribution to Edward Pearce, who was about fifteen years older than Gibbons and seems to have worked for the same circle of patrons,(9) is upheld by the fact that he is mentioned in the diary of Robert Hooke, who was in touch with Dwight in the 1670s. In February 1674/5 Hooke appears to have proposed that Dwight should make a "porcellane" bust of Dr Baldwin Hamey, but it was eventually made in marble by Pearce.(10) No moulds for the Dwight bust have survived.(11) The question of how this bust was made still remains open. Professor Martin Hunt of the Royal College of Art has suggested that clay was built up over a simple wooden armature, perhaps of wooden battens, and then modelled by hand. Some parts, such as the Garter chain, could only have been made in moulds and applied, before being carefully finished by hand. Examination of the underside of several of the fragments suggests that there were several component parts, which were joined using lumps of clay to lute them together. Whether Pearce or an employee of the Fulham factory was responsible for making the bust cannot at present be determined.
The quality of Pearce's sculpture is demonstrated by a marble dating from around 1673 of Sir Christopher Wren, for whom he worked as a carver and builder, in the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford,(12) which, however, Penny believes cannot be an invention by him, and by another of Thomas Evans, dated 1688, belonging to the Painter-Stainers' Company.(13) A terracotta and a bronze of Cromwell are in the National Portrait Gallery and the London Museum respectively. However, the eyeballs are incised on both the Wren and the Evans busts, a trick of carving which may undermine the attribution of the Prince Rupert to Pearce.
The tentative suggestion made by Nicholas Penny(14) that the bust was based on a wood (possibly limewood) prototype cannot be discounted. No evidence is known for the practice of casting from wood portraits for reproduction in a ceramic medium, but the wood prototype might perhaps have been copied without the use of a mould.
The function of this bust remains unclear, although it appears to have been made for display far above the viewer and so could possibly have been intended for an outdoor site. It is comparable in size to the grandest marbles, and is likely to have been commissioned, although possibly never delivered because it did not come out of the kiln as Dwight (or perhaps his client) would have wished. The existence of surviving fragments of another such bust taken with the fact that the Museum bust remained in the possession of the Dwight family, both indicate that it may have been one of several. One large fragment, which is part of the right shoulder from the back, is incised C (or G or O)[-]/Wi?rg?f[-]/167[-] and measures 4.6 cm at its thickest point and only 1 cm at its thinnest. The Museum bust displays evidence of fire cracking particularly on the face, and it is clear that the production of such a large bust in stoneware was fraught with technical difficulties, so much so that even the British Museum example may not have met Dwight's (or even his customer's) standards. As Chris Green has discovered,(15) Dwight apparently formulated a ceramic body for large-scale sculpture or worked out a method of making it, since Robert Hooke reported to the Royal Society on 5 December 1678 "that there was a method of making very thick pieces of earth to be burnt without breaking or chopping; that Mr Dwight had made some heads of earth as big as the life; that the earth was as hard as porphyry; and that the excellence of the China earth was that it would endure the greatest fire without vitrification".(16)
Dwight produced other figure sculpture including small-scale classical subjects such as Neptune(17) and Meleager,(18) imitating bronzes, as well as rustic figures of a huntsman and companion, and even a bust of Mrs Dwight.(19) However, these are stylistically unlike the bust of Prince Rupert, and must be the work of another sculptor. More similar, with regard to the detailed modelling of the wigs and the carefully rendered drapery, are the figure of Dwight's daughter Lydia, the portrait of Lydia after her death and the small-scale busts identified as John Dwight himself and Charles II(20) The monumental, almost iconic quality of the Prince Rupert bust marks it out as a quite exceptional production, about which many questions still remain to be answered.
The gilding on this bust was examined in the Museum Research Laboratory in 1993, envelope 6450, BMRL no.45116Z. A sample from the back of the arm shows three gilding layers on the scanning electron microscope. Very thin leaf gilding overlies two different gesso layers, the one next to the gilding being a red pigment/size layer whilst the one below is finely crushed chalk gesso containing tiny fossils. Radiographs were made in June 1993, Rad 45116, file no. 6450.
(1) There are several biographies of Rupert, such as P. Morrah, 'Prince Rupert of the Rhine', London, 1976. His military campaigns are the subject of F. Kitson's Prince Rupert: portrait of a soldier, London, 1994, and his naval career of F. Kitson's 'Prince Rupert: admiral and general-at-sea', London, 1998.
(2) G. H. Tait, Outstanding pieces in the English ceramic collection of the British Museum, 'Transactions of the English Ceramic Circle', vol. IV, pt 3 (1957)) p. 48. The identification was in fact made in 1871, as a letter on file from George Scharf to Augustus Franks makes clear.
(3) Some of the fragments preserved in the Museum of London (see n. 8) are several centimetres thick.
(4) Mrs Arundell Esdaile in, Further notes on John Dwight, 'Transactions of the English Ceramic Circle', vol.II, no. 6 (1939), pp. 41-3 gives the date as 1671 but Green, 1999, p. 330 has transcribed the document with the correct date. Recent research has revealed that several surviving fragments from the site of his pottery, in the collections of the Museum of London and some on loan to the British Museum (displayed in Gallery 46), are porcellaneous. Dwight's second patent was taken out in 1684.
(5) These dates are given by Green, 1999, pp.2, 11. For an account of the background to English stoneware manufacture, see D. Haselgrove, Steps towards English stoneware manufacture in the 17th century, Part I: 1600-1650, 'London Archaeologist', Winter 1989, vol. VI, no. 5, pp. 132-8; Part II: 1650-1700, ibid., Spring 1990, vol. VI, no. 6, pp. 152-9.
(6) Illus. Green, p. 87, fig. 68, in the collection of the Museum of London, FP 4233-6, 4878; some were displayed at an exhibition on John Dwight held by Jonathan Horne in 1992. The Museum bust is illustrated in a "scrapbook" of this exhibition compiled by Jonathan Horne, of which there are copies in the library of the Dept of Medieval and Later Antiquities, British Museum and in the Museum of London. In conversation in September 1997, Chris Green drew Dawson's attention to the minor differences between the sherds and the bust, including the inscription (see text), and the positioning of the Garter chain (see Green, 1999, pp. 86-7, 90.), suggesting that these differences confirm that each work was individually modelled. Dawson is grateful to Hazel Forsyth, Museum of London, for access to these fragments and for her discussion of them.
(7) See W. B. Honey, 'English Pottery and Porcelain', London, 1933, p. 56.
(8) G. Beard, in 'The Work of Grinling Gibbons', London, 1989, has summarized and added to the information on Gibbons' career and productions. Further details on his work as a wood carver are given by D. Esterly in 'Grinling Gibbons and the Art of Carving', London, 1998.
(9) Ibid., p. 38.
(10) See D. Haselgrove and J. Murray, John Dwight's Fulham pottery 1672-1978: a collection of documentary sources, 'Journal of Ceramic History', Stoke-on-Trent, 1979, p. 48 for the relevant extracts from Hooke's diary.
(11) Radiographs made by the Department of Scientific Research in June 1993, Rad 45116, file no. 6450, show no detectable joins.
(12) H. 66.1 cm, see Penny, 1992, no. 559, pp. 144-5; illus. in colour in R. Simon, British art and Europe, in 'Celebrating European Influence on Art in Britain', loan exh., British Antique Dealers' Association, Grosvenor House Antiques Fair, June 1993, fig. 1.
(13) H. 76.2 cm; illus. in Simon, British art, fig. II.
(14) In private correspondence with the author, June 1998.
(15) Green, 1999, p. 87.
(16) T. Birch, 'The History of the Royal Society of London', 1760, quoted in Haselgrove and Murray, 1979, p. 4g and Green, 1999, p. 87.
(17) Victoria and Albert Museum, reg. no. C393-1920, illus. R. Hildyard, 'Browne Muggs, English Brown Stoneware', exh. cat., Victoria and Albert Museum, London, 1985, no. 6.
(18) Reg. no. MLA Pottery Catalogue F 10.
(19) Reg. no. MLA Pottery Catalogue F 11, 12, 7.
(20) Victoria and Albert Museum, Dept of Ceramics, reg. nos 1054-1871; 1055-1871; 1053-1871; C. 52-1931. The identification of the monarch is almost certainly erroneous, as he is shown without any Order.
- On display (G46/od)
- Extensively restored perhaps even at the time of making. Damage to rider's arms on Garter jewel; firecracks; gilding on chain perhaps later.
- Acquisition date
- Acquisition notes
- Dwight Family Heirlooms; Thomas Baylis Collection, Fulham, c. 1862; C.W.Reynolds Collection, 1871.
- Britain, Europe and Prehistory
- Registration number