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Portrait statuette of Henry Brougham, Baron Brougham and Vaux (1778-1868)

Jean-Pierre Dantan (Paris 1800 - Baden-Baden 1869)

Category

Art / Sculpture

Date

1 Jun 1833

Materials

plaster

Measurements

432 x 153 x 158 mm

Place of origin

London

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Collection

Mount Stewart, County Down

NT 1221049

Summary

Sculpture, patinated plaster; Henry Brougham, First Baron Brougham and Vaux (1778-1868); Dantan jeune (Jean-Pierre Dantan, 1800-1869); 1833. A satirical portrait of Henry Peter Brougham, the statesman and Lord High Chancellor, who is portrayed here seated on his woolsack. One of a group of seven such caricatures , known in French as ‘portraits chargés’ or ‘charges’, made by the French sculptor and satirist Dantan jeune during his first stay in London in 1833, brought to Mount Stewart from Londonderry House.

Full description

A portrait chargé or satirical portrait of Henry Brougham, First Baron Brougham and Vaux (1778-1868), depicting the Lord High Chancellor as a scrawny dessicated figure, clutching a tricorne hat and wearing an enormous judge’s wig, seated upon his woolsack, with behind him a book and his mace of office. Dantan has greatly exaggerated Brougham’s features, especially the angularity of his face and the size of his nose. Set on an integral base, bowed at the front and inscribed H. BROUGHAM. Signed and dated 1 June 1833 on the back. Henry Brougham was a successful lawyer and journalist, who became a leading liberal reformer and member of the whig party in Parliament. In the 1820s he played a key role in ensuring a series of educational reforms and also had a leading part in efforts to abolish slavery. In 1830 he was appointed Lord High Chancellor, serving in this position until 1834. Among his major achievements was the passing of the Reform Bill. In later life, as Brougham became less involved in political affairs, he threw himself into support for a range of liberal causes. Somewhat vain, outspoken and sometimes tactless, Brougham’s physical appearance has been described as ‘Tall and thin, with a high forehead, deep-set eyes, and a long, upturned nose, which proved to be the delight of caricaturists’ (Oxford Dictionary of National Biography), all features successfully captured by Dantan jeune in this particularly harsh satirical portrait. As Janet Seligman wrote, Brougham was here ‘bitterly ridiculed, perhaps largely for the strange appurtenances of his ancient office.’ The statuette of Brougham seems to have been one of the most successful and popular of Dantan’s British caricatures. It was reproduced by the artist as one of the plates in his Museum Dantanorama, a lithographic collection of Dantan’s statuettes published by Susse frères in Paris from 1834 onwards. The sculpture is one of a group of seven satirical statuettes by Dantan jeune at Mount Stewart (NT 1221043-1221049), all made during the sculptor’s first visits to London in 1833 and 1834. They consist of five British subjects, mostly politicians: Duke of Wellington; Earl of Sefton (twice); Samuel Rogers, and Lord Brougham; and two well-known Frenchmen resident in London at the time, the diplomat Talleyrand and the comte d’Orsay. Dantan jeune (Jean-Pierre Dantan, 1800-1869) was a successful portrait sculptor, but became famous, especially during the decade of the 1830s, for his satirical sculptures, which he called Portraits chargés (‘loaded portraits’) or simply charges. For more information on Dantan and his work, see NT 1221044. Satirists had more opportunity for freedom of expression in Britain than in France, and Dantan’s British portraits chargés have been described as some of the most original and caustic of his caricatures (Sorel 1989, p. 32) and ‘as savage in treatment as any of his works’ (Seligman 1957, p. 75). During the 1830s his work was hardly less popular in London than it was in France, and he had some distinguished patrons, including the Fourth Marquess of Londonderry (1805-1872), who is thought to have acquired the group of statuettes at Mount Stewart. They were found in the house in the early twentieth century and taken to Londonderry House in London, where they were displayed in the Library. The whole group was exhibited in 1931 at the Burlington Fine Arts Club, in an exhibition on English caricature. The sculptures returned to Mount Stewart after the sale and demolition of Londonderry House in 1962. Jeremy Warren April 2022

Provenance

Probably acquired by Frederick Stewart, 4th Marquess of Londonderry (1805-1872); by descent at Mount Stewart and Londonderry House; given to the National Trust by Lady Mairi Bury (1921-2009) in 1976.

Marks and inscriptions

Front of base, in ink:: BROUGHAM Back of base, incised:: Published by Dantan Je/ 1 juin 1833 London

Makers and roles

Jean-Pierre Dantan (Paris 1800 - Baden-Baden 1869), sculptor

References

Londonderry House 1939: A Catalogue and Valued Inventory of the Furniture and Works of Art at Londonderry House, Park Lane, W... Prepared for the purposes of insurance, with historical notes, by H. Clifford-Smith, 1939, p. 142. Muséum Dantanorama: Muséum Dantanorama, lithographié par Grandville, Hamelet et Lepeury, Susse and Neuhaus, Paris, undated (but from 1834), Pl. 20. Viro 1863: [Félix Andry} Charges et bustes de Dantan jeune. Esquisse biographique, dédiée à Méry, par le docteur Prosper Viro, Paris 1863, pp. 33 and 81. Burlington Fine Arts Club: ‘Catalogue of a Collection of English Caricature, Winter 1931/1932’, London 1931, no. 206. Montgomery Hyde 1937 H. Montgomery Hyde, Londonderry House and its Pictures, London 1937, p. 18, Pls. IV and XV. Hale 1940 : Richard Walden Hale, Dantan, jeune 1800-1869, and his satirical and other sculpture, especially his “portraits chargés’, Needham, Mass. 1940., pp. 11-14 Seligman 1957: Janet Seligman. Figures of fun: the caricature-statuettes of Jean-Pierre Dantan, London 1957., pp. 53, 76, 86 and 133, Pl. 9. Sorel 1986: Philippe Sorel, ‘Les Dantan du Musée Carnavalet. Portraits-charges sculptés de l’époque romantique’, Gazette des Beaux-Arts,, 107 (1986), pp. 1-38 and 87-102, p. 24, no. 31 Sorel 1989: Philippe Sorel, ‘Dantan jeune. Caricatures et portraits de la société romantique’, exh. cat., Maison de Balzac, Paris 1989., p. 77, no. 10.

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