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Giovanni Battista Guelfi (1690/91 - after 1734)
Model for the statue of James Craggs (d.1721), Secretary of State, on his tomb in Westminster Abbey.
Terracotta with wood
Museum number: MP190
James Craggs (d.1721) was one of the Secretaries of State in the British government and a friend of the poet Alexander Pope who contributed the epitaph for his monument. The monument itself was designed by the architect James Gibbs c.1726-27 and the pose of this figure, cross-legged and leaning on a vase, was the first in 18th-century England to derive directly from classical Roman sources.The Italian sculptor, Guelfi, although working in England, never met Craggs and had to work from 'two paintings and a print': disputes over the quality of the likeness were probably what led to the severing of the face from this terracotta model and its replacement with a wooden detatchable face. This is one of only two terracotta models by Guelfi that are known, the other being for a bust of Anne Duchess of Richmond. Cristiano Giometti points out that this small statuette 'is surprisingly highly finished. The exquisite formation of the hands and feet, distinctly showing the shoelaces, the softness of the drapery, where the spiral-shape folds are wrapped delicately round the left leg, and the left sleeve of gently hanging over the lid of the urn, all show the masterly skill that Guelfi had acquired in the handling of clay'.
Purchased by Soane at the Richard Cosway Sale, Mr Stanley, 22-24 May 1821, Lot 47, A figure resting on an Urn, in Terracotta, £1.1s.
Cristiano Giometti, 'Giovanni Battista Guelfi: New Discoveries' in The Sculpture Journal , vol. III, 1999, pp.26-43, fig. 1.
Richard and Maria Cosway: Regency Artists of Taste and Fashion, Scottish National Portrait Gallery, Edinburgh, 11 August - 29 October 1995; National Portrait Gallery, London, 17 November 1995 - 18 February 1996
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