Sir Frances Chantrey (1781-1841)
The Apsley House bust is the second version of Chantrey’s commission by the Earl of Liverpool in 1821 or 1822 when Wellington was a member of the cabinet. The first version is now in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.
This bust was commissioned by Wellington for Charles and Harriet Arbuthnot who were close friends.
After Harriet Arbuthnot’s death in 1834, Charles, a former diplomat and politician, came to live at Apsley House and died there in 1850. The bust must have come to the house with Mr Arbuthnot after 1834.
Sir Frances Chantrey came from a village near Sheffield in the north of England, he was apprenticed to a wood carver and gilder called Ramsay.
Through Ramsay he met John Raphael Smith, an artist, who recognised his skill and artistic potential. Chantrey eventually studied stone carving and oil painting at the Royal Academy.
He was recognised as one of the greatest sculptors of his day and was knighted by William IV in 1835. He died suddenly in 1842, leaving a fortune, most of which went to the Royal Academy.