Lot 109
  • 109

JOSEPH NOLLEKENS (1737-1823)BRITISH, 1812/ 1813 | Lord George Augustus Henry Cavendish, later 1st Earl of Burlington of the 2nd Creation (1754-1834)

7,000 - 10,000 GBP
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  • Lord George Augustus Henry Cavendish, later 1st Earl of Burlington of the 2nd Creation (1754-1834)
  • white marble, on a white marble socle
  • 64cm., 25 1/4 in. overall


Probably commissioned by the sitter Lord George Augustus Henry Cavendish, later 1st Earl of Burlington of the 2nd Creation (1754-1834), 1812;
by descent to his son William Cavendish, 7th Duke of Devonshire (1808-1891);
by descent to Peregrine Andrew Morny Cavendish, 12th Duke of Devonshire (b. 1944), Chatsworth House, Derbyshire;
his sale, Chatsworth: The Attic Sale, Sotheby's, Chatsworth, 5-7 October 2010, lot 364


London, Royal Academy of Arts, 1813, no. 925


Devonshire House Inventory, 1892, possibly p. 37, in the South Sitting Room 'Bust of Cavendish';
Chatsworth Handlist of Paintings and Sculpture, nd, 28;
A. Graves, The Royal Academy of Arts, A Complete Dictionary of Contributors and their work from its foundation in 1769 to 1904, London, 1905, p. 382;
S. Upton, 'Private Chatsworth', The World of Interiors, October 2001, p. 248;
I. Roscoe, E. Hardy and M. G. Sullivan, A Biographical Dictionary of Sculptors in Britain, 1660-1851, London, 2009, p. 909, no. 314


Overall the condition of the marble is good, with minor dirt and wear to the surface consistent with age. There is natural veining to the marble, consistent with the material. There are a few very minor chips and abrasions, including to the edges of the drapery and to the proper left ear. There are a few slightly open veins to the shoulders. The marble would benefit from cleaning by a professional conservator.
"In response to your inquiry, we are pleased to provide you with a general report of the condition of the property described above. Since we are not professional conservators or restorers, we urge you to consult with a restorer or conservator of your choice who will be better able to provide a detailed, professional report. Prospective buyers should inspect each lot to satisfy themselves as to condition and must understand that any statement made by Sotheby's is merely a subjective, qualified opinion. Prospective buyers should also refer to any Important Notices regarding this sale, which are printed in the Sale Catalogue.

Catalogue Note

Joseph Nollekens was the pre-eminent British portrait sculptor of his day. This impressive collection of busts dating from the sculptor's artistic maturity presents collectors with the opportunity to acquire portraits of some of the best-known figures of the Regency period, including the Duke of York, the Earl of Burlington, and the famous Prime Minister William Pitt the Younger. Nollekens was born into a family of painters of Flemish origin. He trained under Peter Scheemakers and went on to win a number of prizes at the Society of Arts, eventually raising the funds to travel to Rome 'to see the works of Michelangelo and the other great men' (J. T. Smith, Nollekens and his times, London, 1829). In Rome, Nollekens worked under Bartolommeo Cavaceppi, restoring and copying antiquities, and he established a strong reputation for modelling and cutting marble. Returning to London in 1771, he was elected an associate of the Royal Academy in that year, and became a Royal Academician in 1772. Nollekens quickly established a name for himself as a portraitist. John Kenworthy-Browne has said that 'in portrait busts Nollekens scarcely had a rival, and it was largely through his facility to capture and animate a likeness that they became very popular in England' (J. Kenworthy-Browne, 'Nollekens, Joseph (1737-1823), sculptor,' Oxford Dictionary of National Biography). Sitters included the actor David Garrick, King George III, and, eventually, almost every person of consequence in the land.

Nollekens was also responsible for significant mythological works, such as those he executed for Wentworth Woodhouse (now in the Victoria and Albert Museum, London, and J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles). However, his reputation was chiefly for portrait busts, as is evidenced by the increase in price from 50 guineas in 1771 to 150 guineas at the end of his career. The Romantic painter Henry Fuseli's concluded that, 'in a bust he stands unrivalled ... [for] a group of figures, I should have recommended Flaxman; but for a bust, give me Nollekens' (Smith, op. cit. p. 233).

George Cavendish was the third son of William Cavendish, 4th Duke of Devonshire and his wife the former Lady Charlotte Boyle, daughter of Richard Boyle, 3rd Earl of Burlington. He later became Earl of Burlington of the second creation, a title held by his maternal forebears. Famously wealthy, Burlington purchased Burlington House from his nephew, the 6th Duke of Devonshire, and constructed London's Burlington Arcade along the west side of his residence, which itself was significantly elaborated.