A WEDGWOOD AND BENTLEY BLACK BASALT BUST OF VENUS
A WEDGWOOD AND BENTLEY BLACK BASALT BUST OF VENUS
A WEDGWOOD AND BENTLEY BLACK BASALT BUST OF VENUS
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A WEDGWOOD AND BENTLEY BLACK BASALT BUST OF VENUS
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This lot will be removed to Christie’s Park Royal.… Read more
A WEDGWOOD AND BENTLEY BLACK BASALT BUST OF VENUS

CIRCA 1780, IMPRESSED LOWERCASE MARK TO BACK OF BUST AND IMPRESSED TITLE VENUS, IMPRESSED UPPERCASE WEDGWOOD AND BENTLEY MARK TO THE SOCLE

Details
A WEDGWOOD AND BENTLEY BLACK BASALT BUST OF VENUS
CIRCA 1780, IMPRESSED LOWERCASE MARK TO BACK OF BUST AND IMPRESSED TITLE VENUS, IMPRESSED UPPERCASE WEDGWOOD AND BENTLEY MARK TO THE SOCLE
Modelled with her head turned to one side
17 3⁄8 in. (44 cm.) high
Provenance
Probably Matthew Boulton (1728-1809), and by descent to his son
Matthew Robinson Boulton (1770-1842), who purchased Great Tew Park in 1815, and by descent to
Major Eustace Robb, Great Tew Park, Oxfordshire; Christie's house sale, 27-29 May 1987, lot 658.
Special notice

This lot will be removed to Christie’s Park Royal. Christie’s will inform you if the lot has been sent offsite. Our removal and storage of the lot is subject to the terms and conditions of storage which can be found at Christies.com/storage and our fees for storage are set out in the table below - these will apply whether the lot remains with Christie’s or is removed elsewhere. Please call Christie’s Client Service 24 hours in advance to book a collection time at Christie’s Park Royal. All collections from Christie’s Park Royal will be by pre-booked appointment only. Tel: +44 (0)20 7839 9060 Email: cscollectionsuk@christies.com. If the lot remains at Christie’s it will be available for collection on any working day 9.00 am to 5.00 pm. Lots are not available for collection at weekends.

Brought to you by

Amelia Walker
Amelia Walker Director, Specialist Head of Private Collections

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Lot Essay


This fine example of Wedgwood black basalt was sold from the collections of Major Eustace Robb of Great Tew Park in Christie's 1987 house sale. Although it is not clear when it entered the collection, it is likely that the bust was a gift from Josiah Wedgwood to his friend Matthew Boulton, whose son Matthew Robinson Boulton (1770-1842) purchased Great Tew in 1815. Wedgwood and Boulton were both members of the famed Lunar Society of Birmingham. The society was established in 1765 with 14 members, all of whom met once a month (as close to a full moon as possible, which would enable a safe journey home) to attend discussions or practical demonstrations. Other members of the society included Erasmus Darwin, James Watt the engineer and inventor, Joseph Priestly a preacher and chemist, and John Whitehurst, horologist and maker of scientific instruments (see lots 98 and 99 in this catalogue). Wedgwood and Boulton benefitted greatly from their friendship and indeed Boulton worked with Wedgwood to create ormolu frames and mounts for ceramic works. Wedgwood was very pleased with his new basalt and said of it ‘The Black is sterling and will last forever’ (Katharine A. Esdaile, 'Wedgwood’s Busts in Black Basalt', Journal of The Royal Society of Arts, 16 May 1930, p. 744) and it would likely have given him great pleasure to make a gift of this new material to his friend and collaborator.

Wedgwood listed a number of black basalt busts ordered in 1774 from Oliver and Hoskins, including Homer, Plato, Palladio, Inigo Jones and Venus – ‘a collection of the finest Heads in the World’ (ibid., p. 746). It seems likely that this bust of Venus dates to that period, although 18th-century examples of this subject are rare.

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