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Colley Cibber

1 of 8 portraits of Colley Cibber

Colley Cibber, by Sir Henry Cheere, 1st Bt, circa 1740 -NPG 1045 - © National Portrait Gallery, London

© National Portrait Gallery, London

Early Georgian Portraits Catalogue

Colley Cibber

possibly from the studio of Sir Henry Cheere, 1st Bt
circa 1740
27 1/8 in. x 20 1/8 in. (690 mm x 510 mm) overall
NPG 1045

This portraitback to top

Mrs Esdaile noted Roubiliac's apparent use of this illusionistic style on at least one other occasion, namely the bust of Isaac Ware, engraved by J. T. Smith, [1] and so ascribed NPG 1045 to this sculptor. However, since the discovery in 1955 of a marble (uncoloured) version of the Ware bust, her reading of the engraving would seem invalidated. Furthermore, J. G. V. Mallet has lately suggested analogies with the Cheere workshop: [2] Sir Henry Cheere (1703-81), contractor and sculptor, and John (d. 1787) who was in the plaster trade. [3] The handling of the shoulders and drapery in NPG 1045, for instance, may be compared with the busts of Prior and Congreve from Kirkleatham, now in the Castle Museum, York. [4] If the work were indeed by Roubiliac, Walpole would surely have made some reference to it; in the case of the Cheeres, this would be less likely. The sitter's appearance suggests an age near seventy.

Footnotesback to top

1) (pl.850). K. A. Esdaile, The Life and Works of Louis François Roubiliac, 1928, pp 108-9; H. M. Colvin, 'Roubiliac's Bust of Isaac Ware', Burlington Magazine, XCVII, 1955, p 151, pls 32-3.
2) Verbal, 1970.
3) R. Gunnis, Dictionary of British Sculptors 1660-1851, 1953, pp 97-100.
4) Exhibited 'The Man at Hyde Park Corner', Marble Hill House, Twickenham, 1974; Catalogue pls 15, 18.

Physical descriptionback to top

Blue eyes of glass, long upper lip, mouth sunken and faintly red, complexion a high brittle red; black turban cap cast separately and removable, plain white stock, gold embroidered waistcoat, black coat.

Conservationback to top

Losses in the original paint touched in, presumably before acquisition in 1896; traces of damage to plaster in cap, drapery and left cheek. [1]

1) Report by K. Hempel, Victoria and Albert Museum, 1970.

Provenanceback to top

Bought, 1896, from Mrs A. Wells; from the collection of the sitter and subsequently, Horace Walpole, a 'Bust of Colley Cibber, poet-laureat, in a cap, when old, coloured from the life, and extremely like. He gave it to Mrs. Clive, the celebrated actress; and her brother Mr. Raftor gave it, after her death, to Mr. Walpole'; [1] Strawberry Hill sale, George Robins, 13 May 1842 (17th day), lot 106; subsequently in the collection of Mr and Mrs Wells.

1) Horace Walpole, Description of Strawberry Hill, 1784, p 89; Catharine ('Kitty') Clive died 1785.

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.

View all known portraits for Colley Cibber


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