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Darwin Correspondence Project

2.19 Montford, bust at the Royal Society

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Horace Montford’s marble bust of Darwin at the Royal Society, dating from 1898, derives from his bronze statue at Shrewsbury. It was normal for sculptors to re-use their models in this way for the creation of busts and statuettes, in order to capitalise on the preparatory work involved in a major project such as a life-size statue. Through this practice they could satisfy the demand from museums, learned societies and private collectors for the likenesses of famous men, and attract new commissions. Montford’s portrayal of Darwin proved exceptionally popular, and there were many dependent works, in the form of busts, reliefs, and statuettes.  

The bust that now belongs to the Royal Society was exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1899 (no. 2023). Here Darwin’s coat is drawn across his chest, forming a V, and the sharp angles of the dress are set off by an elegantly shaped circular socle. The bust was commissioned by Thomas Farrer, 1st Baron Farrer, who had married Katherine Euphemia (Effie) Wedgwood, daughter of Hensleigh Wedgwood; Hensleigh was Darwin’s brother-in-law and cousin. Farrer’s granddaughter married Edward Ettingdene Bridges, 1st Baron Bridges, who presented the bust to the Royal Society, of which he was a Fellow, in 1959.  

It is interesting that in 1902 Montford approached the Royal Society with an offer to lend another of his busts of Darwin for inspection by the Fellows, perhaps in the hope of a purchase. It was apparently exhibited at an ‘At-Home’ gathering of the Society on 23 January 1902, but then returned to Montford. This may have been one of his models for a bronze bust, commissioned by Andrew Carnegie in 1901 for the Fine Art department of the Carnegie Institute in Pittsburgh. Montford donated a terracotta model for that bust to the National Portrait Gallery, London, in January 1905, and also one of Lord Farrer’s bust now at the Royal Society.   

  • physical location Royal Society, London 

  • accession or collection number library reference S/0006 

  • copyright holder Royal Society (image number RS.13314) 

  • originator of image Horace Montford 

  • date of creation 1898 

  • computer-readable date 1898-01-01 to 1898-12-31 

  • medium and material marble bust 

  • references and bibliography Information kindly supplied by Ellen Embleton, Picture Curator of the Royal Society, from the Society’s records. Royal Society New Letter Book for 1902, letters from Robert William Frederick Harrison to Montford (NLB/23/1/695 and NLB/23/1/865). Algernon Graves, The Royal Academy of Arts: A Complete Dictionary of Contributors, 8 vols (London: Henry Graves and George Bell and Sons, 1906), vol. V, p. 275. Royal Society Minutes of Council, CMO/41, meeting of 18 June 1959, p. 257. Norman H. Robinson, The Royal Society Catalogue of Portraits (London: Royal Society, 1980), pp. 80–81. 


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