<< YCBA Home Yale Center for British Art Yale Center for British Art << YCBA Home

YCBA Collections Search

 
Creator:
Studio of Francis Harwood, 1726/7–1783, British, active in Italy
Formerly attributed to Francis Harwood, 1726/7–1783, British, active in Italy
Title:

Bust of a Man

Former Title(s):

Bust reputedly of "Psyche," an athlete in the employ of the Duke of Northumberland

Bust of a Negro, reputedly 'Psyche', a black athlete in the employ of the Duke of Northumberland

The Blackamoor

Bust of a Black Man

Date:
ca. 1758
Medium:
Black limestone on a yellow marble socle
Dimensions:
Overall: 28 × 20 × 10 1/2 inches (71.1 × 50.8 × 26.7 cm) and Base or socle: 8 1/2 inches (21.6 cm)
Credit Line:
Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Collection
Copyright Status:
Public Domain
Accession Number:
B2006.14.11
Classification:
Sculptures
Collection:
Paintings and Sculpture
Subject Terms:
African | athlete | boxer | man | portrait | scars
Access:
On view
Link:
https://collections.britishart.yale.edu/catalog/tms:54430
Export:
XML

Francis Harwood was born in Britain but made an extremely successful career as a sculptor in Florence, where his workshop was a popular attraction for tourists. This remarkable bust may be a portrait: details such as the small scar on the man’s forehead suggest the close study of an individual sitter. However, the fact that Harwood specialized in making copies of classical statues to sell to English Grand Tourists means that it could be a copy or adaptation of a piece of ancient sculpture. A third possibility is that the bust was made as an allegorical image of “Africa.” Whatever its status, the bust offers a compelling image of black nobility unusual for this date.

Gallery label for installation of YCBA collection, 2016



This remarkable bust may be a portrait: details such as the small scar on the man’s forehead and the subtle depressions in the skin around his temples, nose, and eyes suggest close study of an individual sitter. However, the sculptor Francis Harwood, who was based in Italy, specialized in making copies of classical statues for sale to English Grand Tourists, and so it is also possible that this is a copy or adaptation of an Antique model. A third possibility is that the bust was made as an allegorical image of “Africa.” A passage from Joseph Baretti’s "Guide through the Royal Academy" (London, 1781) suggests that, by 1781, Harwood’s "Bust of a Man"—or something very similar—had entered the cast and sculpture collection of the Royal Academy. Though we cannot be sure that Baretti is referring to the sculpture on display here, his description suggests that works like it may have been difficult to categorize even in the eighteenth century:

AFRICUS. For want of a better, I give this

name to a Head of a Blackamoor, which is in

the Niche of this Room. A Friend of mine

would have it called Boccar, or Boccor, an

African King named in one of Juvenal’s

Satires. But, as it has no ensigns of Royalty

about it, I imagine it to be a Portrait of some

Slave, if not a fanciful performance intended

to characterise the general Look of the

African faces. Whatever it be, I think it a fine

thing of the kind.

In the nineteenth century, Harwood’s bust was mistakenly believed to be a portrait of an athlete named Psyche in the service of the first Duke of Northumberland. Another version of this sculpture, which bears Harwood’s signature and the date 1758, is now at the J. Paul Getty Museum.

Gallery label for Figures of Empire: Slavery and Portraiture in Eighteenth-Century Atlantic Britain (Yale Center for British Art, 2014-10-02 - 2014-12-14)



This exceptional bust was made in the studio of Francis Harwood, an English sculptor who spent his entire career in Florence, where he ran a large and productive workshop that was popular with Grand Tourists. Much of his time was spent supplying collectors with copies of antique sculpture, making this black marble bust very unusual in his oeuvre. As a powerful image of black nobility, it provides a marked contrast to the conventional European representation of a person of color, the crude stereotype of the blackamoor. While the bust may be a portrait, it may equally show an idealized African head. The subject's dignified, even regal, bearing suggest that he may be a figure from history or ancient mythology, such as the Ethiopian warrior-king Memnon from Homer's Iliad. Whomever this bust represents, it ranks as one of the most inspired sculptures of Harwood's career. Another version is at the J. Paul Getty Museum.

Gallery label for installation of YCBA collection, 2011
This remarkable bust may be a portrait: details such as the small scar on the man’s forehead and the subtle depressions in the skin around his temples, nose, and eyes suggest close study of an individual sitter. However, the sculptor Francis Harwood, who was based in Italy, specialized in making copies of classical statues for sale to English Grand Tourists, and so it is also possible that this is a copy or adaptation of an Antique model. A third possibility is that the bust was made as an allegorical image of “Africa.” A passage from Joseph Baretti’s "Guide through the Royal Academy" (London, 1781) suggests that, by 1781, Harwood’s "Bust of a Man"—or something very similar—had entered the cast and sculpture collection of the Royal Academy. Though we cannot be sure that Baretti is referring to the sculpture on display here, his description suggests that works like it may have been difficult to categorize even in the eighteenth century:

AFRICUS. For want of a better, I give this

name to a Head of a Blackamoor, which is in

the Niche of this Room. A Friend of mine

would have it called Boccar, or Boccor, an

African King named in one of Juvenal’s

Satires. But, as it has no ensigns of Royalty

about it, I imagine it to be a Portrait of some

Slave, if not a fanciful performance intended

to characterise the general Look of the

African faces. Whatever it be, I think it a fine

thing of the kind.

In the nineteenth century, Harwood’s bust was mistakenly believed to be a portrait of an athlete named Psyche in the service of the first Duke of Northumberland. Another version of this sculpture, which bears Harwood’s signature and the date 1758, is now at the J. Paul Getty Museum.

Esther Chadwick, Meredith Gamer, and Cyra Levenson

Figures of Empire: Slavery and Portraiture in eighteenth-century Atlantic Britain, Yale Center for British Art, New Haven, 2014, p. 19, V 2556 (YCBA)

Malcolm Baker, Figured in marble : the making and viewing of eighteenth-century sculpture, London, 2000, p. 143, fig. 112, NB466 B35 2000 (YCBA)

Malcolm Baker, The making of portrait busts in the mid-eighteenth century, Roubiliac, Scheemakers and Trinity College, Dublin , Burlington Magazine, vol. 137, December 1995, p. 831, N1 B87 137:3 OVERSIZE (YCBA)

Jane Bassett, Looking at European sculpture : a guide to technical terms, V&A Publications, London, 1997, p. 14, NB50 B37 1997 (YCBA)

David Bindman, Ape to Apollo, and the idea of race in the 18th century , Burlington Magazine, vol 145, February 2003, pp. 103-104, Available online: JSTOR

David Bindman, Ape to Apollo, and the idea of race in the 18th century , Burlington Magazine, vol 145, February 2003, pp. 103-104, N1 B87 145:1 OVERSIZE (YCBA)

David Bindman, The Image of the Black in Western Art : From the " Age of Discovery" to the Age of Abolition, , vol. 3, part 3, Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, Cambridge, Mass., 2010, Vol. 3; pp. 40, 41, fig. 33, N8232 +.I42 2010 Vol. 3,Part 3 Oversize (YCBA) Citations are to Vol. 3, Part 3

Christie's Sales Catalogue : Important European sculpture and works of art : 9 April 1987, , Christie's, Christie's (UK), London, 9 April 1987, p. 43, lot 83, Note vaialble at Yale See WorldCat or Scipio for possible locations

Roberta Cremonicini, Francis Harwood, scultore inglese a firenze nel settecento , 1990/1991, pp. 39-40, Nj18 H245652 C74 OVERSIZE (YCBA)

Martina Droth, Britain in the world: Highlights from the Yale Center for British Art in honor of Amy Meyers, Yale University Press, New Haven, London, p. 49, p. 51 (detail), N6761 .Y33 2019 (LC) (YCBA)

Jason Edwards, From the East India Company to the West Indies and Beyond, the World of British Sculpture , Visual Culture in Britain, vol 2, July 2010, p. 157, N6761 V57 (YCBA)

Figures of Empire : Slavery and Portraiture in Eighteenth-Century Atlantic Britain, , Yale Center for British Art, New Haven, 2014, pp.19, 41, V 2556 (YCBA)

Recent Sales : European Sculpture and Works of Art, Christie's international magazine, June-July 1987, p. 85, N8640 C53 C452 (LC)+ Oversize (LSF)

Roberta Roani Villani, Il ' Busto di Negro ' di Francis Harwood del J. Paul Getty Museum di Malibu ", Paragone. Arte, Anno 42, July 1991, pp. 66-74, figs. 74, 75 and 76, N4 P37 (LC) (HAAS)

Ingrid Roscoe, A biographical dictionary of sculptors in Britain, 1660-1851, Yale University Press, New Haven, CT, 2009, p. 585, no. 10, NB496 B56 2009 (YCBA) (Wall Shelf 3) Also available in online database (Herts [England] : The Henry Moore Foundation, 2010-) : see Orbis record for link to internet resource

Slavery and Portraiture in 18th-century Atlantic Britain, [ Website ] , Yale Center for British Art, New Haven, 2015, Available Online https://interactive.britishart.yale.edu/slavery-and-portraiture/

The J. Paul Getty Museum : handbook of the collection, Los Angeles, 2015, p. 296, N582.M25 A627 2015 (LC) (HAAS)

Marjorie Trusted, The return of the gods : neoclassical sculpture in Britain, Tate Publishing, London, 2008, p. 27, no. 13, NB466 .T78 2008 OVERSIZE (YCBA)

John Walsh, Acquisitions 1988, The J Paul Getty Museum Journal, vol 17, 1989, p. 150, no. 90, Available online: JSTOR Hard copy also available: N582 M25 A25 (LC)+ Oversize (LSF)


If you have information about this object that may be of assistance please contact us.