Upon the death of Canova in 1822 Thorvaldsen assumed the mantle of the leading neo-classical sculptor of his generation. He was commissioned to sculpt a bust of Byron in 1817 by the politician, prison rights campaigner and friend of Byron, John Cam Hobhouse (1786-1869). The original plaster is in the Thorvaldsen Museum, Copenhagen (inv. no. A256). The marble which, like the present bust has a square truncation, is in the Royal Collection (inv. no. 35425).
Once described as 'mad, bad and dangerous to know' Lord Byron (1788-1824) was a celebrated English Romantic poet notorious for his aristocratic excesses.