Francis Hardenberg worked for the Derby porcelain factory in the 1780s before moving to London. He exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1800 and set up shop in Mount Street where he dealt in blue john and marbles, and produced plaster and bronze figures. His marble busts are relatively rare but include some of the most important figures of the day such as the Duke of Wellington (1816, Stratfield Saye), Princess Charlotte and Blücher, both in the Royal Collection and Francis Ingram Seymour-Conway, 2nd Marquess of Hertford in the Wallace Collection, London.
A marble bust of a slightly younger George III by Nollekens, commissioned by the Royal Society, has the same arrangement of drapery as this present bust (see Alan Q. Morton & Jane A. Wess, Public & Private Science, The King George III Collection, 1993, p. 26), and another by Westmacott at Belton House is also similar. Another close comparison is a medal by Thomas Wyon II (1792-1817), showing George III in profile. Another similar portrait bust was sold from the Grittleton Collection, Christie's, London, 22 September 1966, lot 4.
This marble bust once formed part of the collection of Sir Philip Williams at Bridehead, Dorset, where it can be seen in situ in a photograph of the late 19th century. It is listed in the Inner Hall of Bridehead in a late 19th century inventory of the contents of the house as "A marble bust of George III by Hardenberg on scagliola pedestal".
THE WILLIAMS FAMILY OF BRIDEHEAD, DORSET
Robert Williams (1735-1814) acquired the estates at Little Bredy, near Bridehead in 1797. He was an M.P for Dorchester, a Director of the East India Company and a partner in Vere, Williams, Son, Moffat and Burgess (which later became Williams & Glyn). On his death in 1814 he had amassed a fortune worth over half a million pounds. His son, Robert II inherited the estate and later employed Peter Frederick Robinson in 1831 to remodel the house in the Tudor style. However, despite the Tudor exterior, Robert II furnished the interior of the house with contemporary works of art and furniture including pieces by George Bullock. In the next generation Robert III (1811-1890) employed the architect Benjamin Ferrey to give the house a gothic air and had Gothic and Jacobean furniture specially designed for the interiors.