This model of the connoisseur George Banks, reposed on a Grecian seat, was executed in 1828 by Joseph Gott (1785-1860), who had received training as a sculptor around 1800 from John Flaxman. Gott worked mostly in Rome, and the influence of contemporary Roman sculptors such as Canova as well as all forms of antique sculpture is evident in his neo-classical style. He was a member of the Royal Academy between 1820 and 1848, and continued to work until his death in Rome in 1860.
George Banks was one of the leading cloth merchants in Leeds, where he served as Lord Mayor in 1818. He was a member of its Philosophical and Literary Society, and also of The Northern Society for the Encouragement of the Fine Arts and played an important role in encouraging the patronage of Gott's work in Yorkshire. Gott's original marble statue (52 x 58.5 x 24 cm.) of 1828 passed by descent to Mrs. E.C. Banks, who presented it in 1928 to the City of Leeds, together with a marble bust of George Banks and four other works by Gott, where it is now displayed in the Henry Moore Institute together with a plaster maquette that was acquired by the Leeds City Art Galleries in 1973.
A marble sculpture by Gott of William Ewart (d. 1869) MP for Dumfries and an active social reformer, in the same pose as the present lot, is in the Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool.