ARNOLD, MATTHEW (1822-1888)
PORTRAIT BUST BY WILLIAM TYLER R.A. (active 1878-1893), terracotta patinated plaster bust on integral socle, height 30 inches (76 cm), width 24 inches (61 cm) [c. 1889]
LORD COLERIDGE, WHO FORMERLY OWNED THIS IMPRESSIVE BUST, WAS ARNOLD'S 'MOST LOYAL [AND] ENDURING OF ANY OF HIS FRIENDS' (Honan). HE UNVEILED THE BUST OF ARNOLD IN POETS' CORNER IN WESTMINSTER ABBEY, AND ALSO GAVE THE ORATION THEN. John Duke Coleridge (1820-1894), great-nephew of S.T. Coleridge, became Lord Chief Justice and first Baron Coleridge. He and Arnold first met as undergraduates at Balliol and remained lifelong friends, regularly seeing and corresponding with one another. It was Coleridge who led the subscription for and who unveiled the bust of Arnold by Bruce Joy in Westminster Abbey. Calling himself Arnold's 'oldest friend', Coleridge stated: 'No nobler nature, no purer mind, no loftier character has it been in a long life my good fortune to know...in combination of great qualities he stands alone in his generation.' In Arnold's letters, C.Y. Lang, the editor, noted that Coleridge's friendship with Arnold 'began earlier and lasted longer than any other person on record.' A poignant provenance.
William Tyler R.A. exhibited the finished marble bust of Arnold at the Royal Academy in 1889. Another plaster version is in the art collection of Arnold and Coleridge's old college, Balliol, Oxford, not known to be, but almost certainly the gift of Lord Coleridge.
PROVENANCE: Lord Coleridge (1820-1894), Arnold's friend; by descent Lord Coleridge and the Coleridge Trust; Sotheby's Chanter House sale, 24 October 2006; Ted Few.
REFERENCES: Park Honan, Matthew Arnold: A Life, 1981; Matthew Arnold: The Critical Heritage, edited by Carl Dawson, 1973; A.E. Housman: Collected Poems & Selected Prose, edited by Christopher Ricks, 1988; The Times, 2 November 1891; The Letters of Matthew Arnold, edited by C.Y. Lang, 6 volumes, 1991-2001.