Extra-illustrated Life of Nollekens, 1708-1875, bulk 1768-1836.
- Physical Description:
- 2.0 linear feet (6 boxes)
- Rare Books and ManuscriptsMSS 10Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon FundAccessible by request in the Study Room [Request]
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As one of the leading sculptors of his day, Joseph Nollekens (1737-1823) was responsible for immortalizing many notable contemporary figures, from Laurence Sterne and Samuel Johnson to George III and Charles James Fox. With his artistic success, Nollekens amassed a vast fortune, estimated to be £200,000 on his death. future biographer, John Thomas Smith (1766-1833). By profession a topographical draughtsman and antiquary, Smith had been appointed in 1816 to succeed William Alexander as Keeper of Prints and Drawings at the British Museum. Smith had grown up almost as one of Nollekens' family, and had anticipated a generous sum from his friend; however, although he was co-executor with Francis Douce and Sir William Beechey, his bequest turned out to be a mere £100 (compared with Douce's estimated £50,000). He immediately set to work to compile a discursive biography, Nollekens and His Times (first edition 1828; reprinted 1829), which quickly came to be considered as "perhaps the most candid biography ever published in the English language" (DNB).Apart from dealing with the central figure of Nollekens, Smith widened the scope of the biography to give an overall view of numerous other artists of the period. Foremost among these was William Blake, who received by far the largest treatment. For this reason, the work has always been highly valued, as Smith's was one of the few first-hand accounts of Blake to be published.
Nollekens' biographer, John Thomas Smith (1766-1833), was by profession a topographical draughtsman and antiquary. Smith's discursive biography, Nollekens and His Times (first edition 1828; reprinted 1829), quickly came to be considered as "perhaps the most candid biography ever published in the English language" (DNB). Apart from dealing with the central figure of Nollekens, Smith widened the scope of the biography to give an overall view of numerous other artists of the period, especially William Blake.
In addition to the autograph letters, the work has been extra-illustrated with approximately 300 engravings of people, places and works of art mentioned in the text, including portraits of many artists (Nollekens, Blake, Fuseli, Canova, Northcote, Flaxman, Barry, Rembrandt, Richard Wilson, and Paul Sandby, among others), writers and politicians. Also represented are prints of a number of busts and monuments designed by Nollekens and his contemporaries. About two-thirds or the engravings were separately published prints (some trimmed to the margins) while the remainder are extracted from publications (including eight by or after William Blake). There is also a series of unmounted prints at the end, presumably--like the unmounted letters--intended to be inserted in the text volumes when finally bound.
The collection comprises an extra-illustrated copy John Thomas Smith's Nollekens and his times (London, Henry Colburn, 1829). It includes two volumes, extra-illustrated with numerous letters, sketches and prints. All sheets are unbound. The extra material was compiled by the celebrated antiquary and autograph collector William Upcott (1779-1845).
Upcott selected a large number of items which have a direct relevance to the work, many of them clearly having come from the collection of John Thomas Smith himself. For example, there are 26 letters to Nollekens (many on the subject of his busts), four letters by Nollekens, and three sketches by Nollekens of church monuments. In addition, there are over 50 letters to and from Smith, a number concerned with his publication or Nollekens' will, and many others dealing with paintings, prints, and contemporary scultpors and artists. Letters of note include: a letter from Lord Bristol to his agent Alexander Day; a letter from Nollekens' future sister-in-law Anne Welch, about art collecting in Italy; a letter from James Forrester to Nollekens, about British painters in Italy; as well as examples of letters from artists such as Fuseli, Westmacott, Anne Damer, May Anne Flaxman, Sir William Beechey, Abraham Pether, and others. The collection also features letters from collectors, patrons, and anecdotists such as Malesworth Phillips, Richard Gregory of Colle, Charles Townley, William Seward, and Laetitia Matilda Hawkins.
Item numbers (e.g. 1-179) refer to the volume and page numbers of the printed work, next to which the extra-illustrated material is placed. Item numbers beginning '3' were not interfiled in the two-volume work.
- Subject Terms:
- Artists -- Great Britain -- Correspondence.Artists -- Great Britain -- Portraits.Artists -- Great Britain.Blake, William, 1757-1827.British Museum.Collectors and collecting -- Great Britain.Nollekens, Joseph, 1737-1823 -- Correspondence.Nollekens, Joseph, 1737-1823.Sculptors -- Great Britain -- Correspondence.Sculptors -- Great Britain -- Portraits.Sculptors -- Great Britain.Sculpture -- Great Britain.Smith, John Thomas, 1766-1833 -- Correspondence.Smith, John Thomas, 1766-1833.Upcott, William, 1779-1845.Wills.
Extra-illustrated copies (Provenance)
Extra-illustrated Life of Nollekens. Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Fund.