Sculpture Journal

Busts and friendship: the identity and context of William Murray's version of Roubiliac's bust of Alexander Pope

Sculpture Journal (2013), 22, (2), 65–76.

Abstract

This article discusses how one version of Roubiliac's bust of Alexander Pope may be interpreted in terms of the friendship between the poet and the young lawyer, William Murray, later 1st Earl of Mansfield. Until now the identity of Murray's bust of Pope, once at Kenwood House, has been uncertain but the bequest in 1796 of the Kenwood bust to the 4th Earl Fitzwilliam allows this to be identified as the bust dated 1740 in a private collection. The line from Horace inscribed on Roubiliac's marble (adopted in part by Murray as his motto) was subsequently inscribed (in the same position) on Murray's own bust of 1779 executed by Nollekens. The friendship articulated through these two busts is explored further through consideration of various other visual and literary sources, including a poem dedicated by Pope to Murray.

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Author details

Baker, Malcolm