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Bust SM L77.
Bust SM L77. © Sir John Soane's Museum, photo: Lewis Bush
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Bust of Dr Dodd, executed for forgery in 1777

Bronze, on a marble pedestal

Museum number: L77

Curatorial note

The execution of Dr Dodd for forgery was the talk of London in the spring and early summer of 1777. William Dodd (1729-77) was a man of letters best known for editing The Beauties of Shakespeare, an anthology of quotations first published in 1752. He later became a clergyman, whose fashionable attire earned him the nickname ‘the Macaroni Parson’. Dodd’s pursuit of advancement inevitably led him into debt and in February 1777, he sought to satisfy his creditors by discounting a forged bill for £4,200. He was arrested four days later and convicted of capital forgery.

Dodd was sentenced to death and hanged at Tyburn on 27 June 1777 despite a popular campaign to obtain mercy for ‘the unfortunate divine’ including a number of petitions and the support of Dr Johnson, who wrote a number of speeches and prayers published under Dodd’s name. Soane must have been impressed by this news story in the year prior to his grand tour, because nearly half a century later in 1825 he purchased this small bronze bust. A great admirer of Shakespeare, Soane also owned at least two editions of Dodd’s most successful work.

Provenance help-art-provenance

Purchased by John Soane at the Charles Yarnold Sale (auctioneer Mr. Southgate), 11 July 1825, Lot 6, Bust of Dr Dodd in bronze, for 15 shillings.

If you have any further information about this object, please contact us: worksofart@soane.org.uk