This impressive bronze table bust of the Duke of Wellington is in the form of a classical tribute. He is portrayed wearing Roman leather armour, the breastplate with a central lion’s mask radiating lightning bolts. This is set on a turned socle and square plinth which in turn is raised on a curved simulated marble pedestal, with two recumbent lions above superb quality borders of classical motifs and flowerhead arabesques. The reverse states ‘Wellington L. Gahagan Fecit & Pub’d June 12. 1811’.
Height: 22in (56 cm) Width: 25in (63 cm) Depth: 11in (28cm)
Provenance: Major Hon Denis Gomer Berry and Lady Pamela Wellesley Berry
Richard Gomer Berry, 3rd Viscount Kemsley
Lawrence Gahagan (1735-1820) was born in Dublin to a family of talented stone masons and sculptors. He was based in London from around 1757 and exhibited regularly at the Royal Academy between 1798 and 1817. He was involved in a major project to help update the interiors of Castle Howard from 1801 to 1811 but he is most famous for his portrait busts. In addition to the Wellington busts, Gahagan sculpted such notables as Nelson, William Pitt, George III, George IV, Admiral Blucher and Lord Byron. His artistic talent continued through the family line as at least five of his children pursued careers as sculptors.
The Duke of Wellington was one of the most popular subjects for portraits of all kinds during the late 18th and 19th centuries and there are numerous paintings, bronzes and marbles of him in existence. However only a few of the present composition are known to exist. Lawrence Gahagan executed the original of this bust for the Duke of Wellington’s country seat at Stratfield Saye in Hampshire in 1811. Ackermann’s Repository of Arts Vol 6 (1811) illustrates “a portrait of Lord Wellington from a bust for which he sat to Mr Gahagan”.