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Henry Webber R.A. (1754 - 1826), sculptor

Pluto Enchaining Cerberus

c.1787-89

Clay

Museum number: M405

Curatorial note

This is a small-scale copy of the famous marble group of 'Pluto enchaining Cerberus' (Pluton tenant Cerbère enchaîné) by the French sculptor, Augustin Pajou (1730-1809), today in the Louvre Museum in Paris. The original marble was Pajou's diploma work, approved by the Academie Royale in Paris in 1759 and submitted for admission to the Academie in 1760.

In summer 1787 Henry Webber's then employer, Josiah Wedgwood, sent him to Rome - partly as a guide for his son, John Wedgwood, and partly to gather material for future designs at his factory. A written agreement with Wedgwood stated that Webber was going 'for the purpose of making models, drawings and other improvements in the art of modelling and designing for the benefit of the said Josiah Wedgwood'. Webber and Wedgwood junior travelled to Rome via Paris, Geneva, Genoa and Florence. Webber presumably saw Pajou's sculpture during his time in Paris and made this copy, bringing it with him when he returned to London in 1789.

This piece is first recorded in Soane's collection in 1830 when it is mentioned as being in the basement Catacombs in Soane's published Description of his house. Earlier drawings of the Catacombs of c.1825 (recording the area as it was first arranged) do not show the sculpture and therefore it seems likely that it entered the collection between 1825 and 1830, perhaps acquired by Soane after Webber's death in 1827.

Literature

J. Soane, Description, 1832, p.11
A Biographical Dictionary of Sculptors in Britain 1660-1851, Yale, 2009: entry on Henry Webber (regularly updated online version available via www.henry-moore.org)

Exhibition history

Hounds In Leash: The Dog in 18th and 19th Century Sculpture, Henry Moore Institute, Leeds, 24 May - 26 August 2000


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