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Early Georgian Portraits Catalogue

Louis François Roubiliac (1702-1762), Sculptor

A detailed study appears in the biography by Mrs Esdaile. The first certain datable portrait is one noted by Vertue in November, 1751, ‘lately Mr Rubilliac the Statuary, his picture painted by Mr Soldi' [1] but an enamel attributed to Lens who died 1740, in the collection, 1928, of Dr Bellamy Gardner, is surely earlier. A signed version of the portrait by Soldi in which the sitter is at work on the figure of Charity for the Montagu tomb in Warkton Church, was acquired, 1914, by Dulwich College [2] from C. Fairfax Murray. The version signed and dated 1757/8 owned by the Garrick Club (601) showing the sculptor working on a bust of Garrick [3] is evidently the portrait, anonymous property, sketched by Scharf at Christie's, 3 March 1883, lot 84. [4] A pastel by an unknown artist, at Christie's, 20 March 1953, lot 53, attributed by the sitter's great-grandson to Cotes but surely too powerful for this artist, may be the pastel exhibited by Vispré at the Society of Artists in 1760 (63): 'Mr. Vispré. A celebrated painter in crayons, has two portraits: one of them the famous sculptor Roubiliac, the man himself alive, breathing and just going to speak; most admirable! and himself never cut in marble a better ...'. [5]
The next dated work is the bust by Wilton exhibited in 1761, discussed under NPG 2145, and the oil by Carpentiers (NPG 303) probably exhibited in the same year. A self-portrait, perhaps the 'Portrait in oil, his first attempt', also exhibited in 1761 (64), [6] was last heard of when reported by Horace Walpole in the possession of Mr Scott of Crown Court: 'a sketch of Roubiliac's head in oil by himself, which he painted a little before his death'. [7] A lost portrait by Hudson is implied by lot 6, 2nd day of his sale, Christie's, 25 and 26 February 1785: 'Mr. Hudson. Portraits of Roubiliac and Faber.' [8]

1) G. Vertue, Vertue Note Books (edited by The Earl of Ilchester), Walpole Society, 1930-55, III, p 159.
2) Exhibited ‘Italian Art and Britain', RA, 1960 (155). In 1859 owned by J. Matthews, Birmingham, by whom it had been bought 'some 12 or 14 years ago from white', Sir George Scharf's Sketchbooks, LIV, p 105 and Matthews’ letter, 11 August, 1859, NPG archives; K. A. Esdaile, The Life and Works of Louis François Roubiliac, 1928 p 190 and note.
3) Same type as bust of Garrick attributed to Roubiliac (NPG 707A), C. K. Adams, A Catalogue of the Pictures in the Garrick Club, 1936, p 184 (601).
4) Sir George Scharf's Sketchbooks, 105, p 49A. For the earlier history of this or the Dulwich version, see Connoisseur, vol.186, 1974, p 181.
5) Imperial Magazine, or Complete Monthly Intelligensia, 1760, p 246; compare with the Vispre of Mde. Roubiliac, K. A. Esdaile, The Life and Works of Louis François Roubiliac, 1928, pl.xlv.
6) K. A. Esdaile, The Life and Works of Louis François Roubiliac, 1928, p 148.
7) H. Walpole, 4th Earl of Orford. Anecdotes of Painting in England ... collected by ... George Vertue; digested ... by Horace Walpole, edited J. Dalloway and R. N. Wornum, 1862, III, p 759 and note 2, the portrait mistakenly equated with that of the sitter's father-in-law, lot 88 of the sale, 12 May 1762, cp K. A. Esdaile, The Life and Works of Louis François Roubiliac, 1928, p 221.
8) K. A. Esdaile, The Life and Works of Louis François Roubiliac, 1928, p 171.


This extended catalogue entry is from the out-of-print National Portrait Gallery collection catalogue: John Kerslake, Early Georgian Portraits, Her Majesty's Stationery Office, 1977, and is as published then. For the most up-to-date details on individual Collection works, we recommend reading the information provided in the Search the Collection results on this website in parallel with this text.