This plaster bust of Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington is a replica of the original marble portrait bust, commissioned, in 1852, by the Duke’s heir for Stratfield Saye, Hampshire, the family seat. It is based on his death mask, which was also made by Adams, and depicts the Duke bare-chested with contemporary forward brushed hair. The reverse signed and dated “G.G. ADAMS. Sc. 1852“. English, circa 1852.
Provenance: Major Hon Denis Gomer Berry and Lady Pamela Wellesley Berry
Richard Gomer Berry, 3rd Viscount Kemsley
George Gammon Adams (1821-1898) attended the Royal Academy Schools in 1840 on the recommendation of William Wyon, chief engraver to the Royal Mint. He studied there both as a sculptor and medallist and finally with the sculptor John Gibson in Rome in 1846. Amongst his numerous commissions Adams was chosen to take the death-mask of the Duke of Wellington in 1852. From this mask he produced a bust of the Duke which the second Duke described as “…considered by myself and those gentlemen he [sic] knew him best, as well as by his servants, as the best by far that has appeared, and we are obliged to you for thus making a likeness which hereafter will be considered authentic”.
It was so admired that Adams made several more marble versions. He exhibited two at the Royal Academy (1854 and 1859). Another was purchased by Queen Victoria in 1853 for £105 (Royal Collection reference number RCIN 2060), the 2nd Duke of Wellington presented one to Saint Joseph’s Church and another was acquired by J. Cambell-Methuen for Corsham Court, Wiltshire.
The George Gammon Adams bequest of objects given to the Victoria and Albert Museum by his daughter, I. D. Adams, in 1980, includes both a marble copy and the only known bronze example.
Plaster busts of this model are rare with one notable example in the Duke of Northumberland’s collections at Syon House, reputedly being the original plaster mock-up for the Corsham Court sculpture, and another in the National Gallery, London.