Benjamin Robert Haydon
Benjamin Robert Haydon
by Unknown artist
plaster cast of life-mask, circa 1820
9 7/8 in. x 6 1/2 in. (251 mm x 165 mm)
Given by Maurice Buxton Forman, 1936
Click on the links below to find out more:
Sitterback to top
- Benjamin Robert Haydon (1786-1846), History painter and diarist. Sitter in 10 portraits, Artist associated with 34 portraits.
This portraitback to top
The well-known practice of taking a mask, be it from life or death, enjoyed a revival in the early nineteenth century and found especial encouragement at the hands of the history painter, Benjamin Robert Haydon. He had life-masks of his friends Wordsworth and Keats made, apparently to help him with his great canvas, Christ's Entry into Jerusalem, and also had his own taken. His diary records the process of taking such a mask of the critic Francis Jeffrey on 5 May 1821: By this time Jeffrey's coat was off, his chin towelled, the plaister ready, his face greased, and the Ladies looking with a mixture of interest & quiz that was funny. Mrs Jeffrey began to look anxious, for casting a face has something the air of cutting off a man's head . . . The plaister was now ready, a spoonful taken up, Jeffrey ordered to keep his mouth shut & his nerve firm, & the Visitors to be quiet. Sidney [Smith] was dying with laughter, kept trying to make Jeffrey laugh, but it would not do . . . Unfortunately the moulder had nearly blocked up Jeffrey's nostrils and breathing became painful; his nerves gave way & the mould was obliged to be jirked off & broken. Despite their reputation as seemingly perfect images, life-masks are notoriously liable to distortion.
Linked publicationsback to top
- Curtis, Penelope; Funnell, Peter; Kalinsky, Nicola, Return to Life: A New Look at the Portrait Bust, 2000 (accompanying the exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery from 7 February to 30 May 2001), p. 45
- Saywell, David; Simon, Jacob, Complete Illustrated Catalogue, 2004, p. 290
- Walker, Richard, Regency Portraits, 1985, p. 238
Linked displays and exhibitionsback to top
- Return to Life: A New Look at the Portrait Bust (7 February 2001 - 20 May 2001)
Events of 1820back to top
Current affairsGeorge III dies at Kew on 29 January and George IV ascends to the throne.'Trial of Queen Caroline' in the House of Lords; Parliament drops the Bill which was to legitimise a divorce between Caroline and George IV.Cato Street Conspiracy to assassinate the cabinet discovered. Arthur Thistlewood and fellow conspirators are hung.
Art and scienceSir Thomas Lawrence becomes President of the Royal Academy.Astronomical Society is set up by John Herschel and Charles Babbage. First iron steamship is launched.
InternationalActor, Edmund Kean goes on a successful tour of America after making his name at the Drury Lane Theatre.Revolutions begin in Spain, Portugal and Naples.The famous ancient Greek statue of the Venus de Milo is rediscovered on the Island of Melos and purchased by the Louvre in Paris.
Exhibitions and displays
- Framing the Face: Collars and Ruffs
Until 16 July
- Reproducing Fame: Printmakers and the Nineteenth Century Stage
Until 2 July
- Portrait of the Day: Augustus Pugin
31 January, 12:30