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Keystone-shaped plaque with the head of ?Ossian in relief, perhaps after a model by John Bacon, c.1779

c.1775

Coade Stone

Height: 68.5cm
Height: 23in
Depth: 2in
Width: 11.5in, at the bottom

Museum number: M1130

Curatorial note

Wedge-shaped panel with the head of (?) Ossian in relief. The nose badly damaged. Presumably a specimen from Coade and Seely artificial stone factory at Lambeth. An album of etchings of Coade products in the Museum includes several key-stone heads of this type (p.64, nos. 438, 439 and 446). Bo. 438 is almost identical with this specimen, but measures 2ft. 3in. deep. The subject has been variously thought to be a River God or Neptune but seems more likely to be the blind Ossian, legendary bard and supposed author of a cycle of epic poems published by the Scottish poet James Mcpherson (1736--1796) from 1760. Mcpherson claimed the poems were translated from ancient Gaelic originals but in fact they were probably largely written by him. Soane owned a copy of the Poems of Ossian (1773). John Bacon (1740-1799) was employed by Mrs Coade and may well have been responsible for this work.

We are grateful to Murdo Macdonald, Emeritus Professor of History of Scottish Art, University of Dundee, for his new suggested identification of the subject of this work as Ossian (2020).


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