Sunday, November 17, 2013

Sculpture of the Day: A Bust of Handel by Louis-François Roubiliac, 1739

George Frederick Handel
L.F. Roubiliac, 1739
Given by the sitter to John Christopher Smith
by whom given to King George III
The Royal Collection
Britain’s King George III was a fervent admirer of the music of George Frederick Handel. The composer already had a long association with the Royal court, but George III saw to it that Handel remained the unofficial “official” court composer, even going as far as installing busts of the Handel over musical instruments in the Royal residences.

George III, as a boy, had occasion to meet Handel. After the meeting, Handel remarked, “While that boy lives, my music will never want a protector.” After Handel’s death, he bequeathed a great portion of his estate to John Christopher Smith, the Younger, who had been his pupil and who, also, cared for Handel during his blindness at the end of his life. Among the items that Smith inherited was this bust by French sculptor Louis-François Roubiliac. Roubiliac was celebrated for his portrait sculptures. Handel sat for the sculptor on several occasions.

Knowing that King George III was such a fan of Handel, Smith made a gift of this bust, Handel’s harpsichord and a large collection of the composer’s original sheet music to the King. George displayed the bust proudly in his private apartments.

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