A Chelsea bust of William, Duke of Cumberland, circa 1750-52

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Lot 3
A Chelsea bust of William, Duke of Cumberland, circa 1750-52

Sold for £ 15,000 (US$ 20,744) inc. premium
A Chelsea bust of William, Duke of Cumberland, circa 1750-52
Naturally modelled looking slightly to his right, his periwig coiffed with ringlets and tied in a bow, his scaled breast plate surmounted by a mask of Medusa, 13.5cm high (minor chip to one ringlet at the back)


  • Provenance:
    Darlaston Hall, Stone, Staffordshire, seat of the Jervis family
    House sale early 1950s, prior to the demolition of Darlaston Hall, where purchased by a cousin of the present owner

    Prince William Augustus (1721-1765) was the youngest son of George II and Caroline of Ansbach. In 1726 he was granted several titles including Duke of Cumberland. The Duke pursued a military career and is best known as commander the loyalist troops against the Jacobite forces of Charles Edward Stuart.

    The Jervis family of Darlaston Hall also owned Meaford Hall on the opposite bank of the River Trent, where Admiral John Jervis was born in 1735. In December 1745 The Duke of Cumberland installed his army near to Stone and dug-in in anticipation of an attack by Charles Stuart's Jacobites. Swinton Jervis provided accommodation for seventy British soldiers at Meaford and possibly at Darlaston, while Cumberland himself slept in Stone High St in the building now called Cumberland House. Hearing of Cumberland's forces lined up at Stone, the Jacobite advance halted at Leek, just 16 miles away, followed by retreat and the decisive defeat at Culloden on 16 April 1746. The aftermath of the battle and the Duke's vindictive and brutal crackdown on Jacobitism earned Cumberland the taunt "Butcher".

    In Staffordshire the loyalist landowners around Stone saw Cumberland as their saviour and it is quite likely Swinton Jervis purchased this Chelsea porcelain bust to display at Darlaston Hall. The house remained in the Jervis family until 1880 when they fell on hard times. Darlaston was bought by James Meakin, a pottery owner and JP. Three generations of Meakins lived at Darlaston before a sale of the contents was held in the early 1950s prior to the demolition of Darlaston Hall.

    There has been much speculation concerning the Duke of Cumberland's involvement in the Chelsea porcelain factory. An account exists by a Mr. Mason, who worked at the Chelsea factory transcribed by William Chaffers in the 1947 edition of his Marks and Monograms, p.937, 'I think the Chelsea China manufactory began about the year 1748 or 1749... It was first carried on by the Duke of Cumberland and Sir Everard Fawkener, and the sole management was entrusted to a foreigner of the name of Sprimont...' Sir Everard Fawkener was the Duke's secretary and there is no doubt Fawkener was closely involved with Nicholas Sprimont's porcelain business. Sir Charles Hanbury Williams arranged for Fawkener to borrow his collection of Meissen porcelain so that Chelsea could make copies. In a letter of 9 June 1751 to his friend Henry Fox, Hanbury-Williams wrote ...'I find also that the Duke is a great encourager of the Chelsea China, and has bespoke a set for his own Table.' Aside from providing the factory with his custom, it seems unlikely that the Duke had any financial involvement in the venture. Indeed, in a note published in 1763 Sprimont went to great lengths to disassociate himself with the Duke. 'The paragraph in the Gazetteer of Saturday, Dec 24 1763, that his Royal Highness the Duke of Cumberland has been lately at the manufactory, in order to purchase the secret is without Foundation.'

    Even if he was not a financial backer, the Duke was still an important and wealthy patron of the Chelsea factory and Sir Everard Fawkener no doubt encouraged the production of this bust of his employer. Elizabeth Adams discusses the Duke's involvement in her book Chelsea Porcelain (1987/2001) where she illustrates a similar bust from the British Museum, p.70, fig.6.7. Another example of this bust is in the Colonial Williamsburg collection, published by John Austin (1977) p.114, pl.107. Others are in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York and in the Schreiber collection in the Victoria and Albert Museum. An example from Lord and Lady Fisher's collection is illustrated by Severne Mackenna (1948) pl.14, fig.35.
A Chelsea bust of William, Duke of Cumberland, circa 1750-52
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