The J. Paul Getty Museum

Bust of a Man (after the antique)

Object Details


Bust of a Man (after the antique)


Joseph Wilton (English, 1722 - 1803)




England (Place Created)





Object Number:



59.7 cm (23 1/2 in.)

See more

See less

Object Description

With his strong profile, authoritative expression, and dramatic turn of the head, this bust was closely modeled on an ancient marble head in the Museo Nazionale, Naples. When it was made in 1758, the bust was mistakenly believed to represent the famous Athenian orator Demosthenes.

For those who could not afford to own real antiquities, busts like this one could be ordered from one of many eighteenth-century English sculptors who spent time living in Italy. Such artists established their reputations making replicas of famous antiquities for British aristocrats. Charles Watson-Wentworth, the second marquess of Rockingham, either commissioned this bust directly from the sculptor, Joseph Wilton, or bought it from the sculptor's stock of busts made all'antica. Along with Joseph Nolleken's statues of Venus, Minerva, and Juno, the bust was incorporated into a Neoclassical decorative scheme, perhaps first in the marquess's London townhouse and then later in his country house in Wentworth. Both the individual sculptures and the decorative scheme were designed to be expressive of the owner's taste and classical erudition.

after 1765 - 1782

Charles Watson-Wentworth, 2nd marquis of Rockingham, English, 1730 - 1782 (London, England), on display in the Grand Floor Center Room in his Grosvenor Square House (London, England), by inheritance to his nephew William Wentworth fourth earl Fitzwilliam
Source: Penny, 1991, p. 20, mentions the 1782 inventory for the location.

1782 - 1833

William Wentworth, 4th earl Fitzwilliam, English, 1748 - 1833 (Wentworth Woodhouse, Yorkshire, England), brought from London to Wentworth Woodhouse between 1782 and 1802, by inheritance within the Wentworth Fitzwilliam family.
Source: The sculpture was seen at Wentworth Woodhouse in 1802 by Richard Warner (Warner, A Tour through..., vol. 1 (1802), pp. 219-20).

1833 - 1986

Wentworth Fitzwilliam Family (Wentworth Woodhouse, Yorkshire, England) [sold, Christie's, London, July 15, 1986, lot 88, to Cyril Humphris]

1986 - 1987

Cyril Humphris, S.A. (London, England), sold to the J. Paul Getty Museum, 1987.


Christie's, London. Important English Marble Statuary, European Sculpture and Works of Art. July 15, 1986, pp. 72-73, lot 88, ill. [as a fine mid-eighteenth-century English marble bust of a man, by Joseph Wilton].

"Acquisitions/1987." The J. Paul Getty Museum Journal 16 (1988), p. 181, no. 80.

Penny, Nicholas. "Lord Rockingham's Sculpture Collection and The Judgment of Paris by Nollekens." The J. Paul Getty Museum Journal 19 (1991), p. 20, fig. 19.

Fusco, Peter. Summary Catalogue of European Sculpture in the J. Paul Getty Museum (Los Angeles: J. Paul Getty Museum, 1997), p. 56, ill.

Baker, Malcolm. Figured in Marble: The Making and Viewing of Eighteenth-Century Sculpture (Los Angeles: The J. Paul Getty Museum, 2000), p. 70.

Fittschen, Klaus. Die Bildnisgalerie in Herrenhausen bei Hannover: Rezeptions- und Sammlungsgeschichte antiker Porträts (Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 2006), 293, no. 14, listed among the copies of the bust of Demosthenes.

Roscoe, Ingrid and Emma Hardy, eds. A Biographical Dictionary of Sculptors in Britain, 1660-1851 (London: Yale University Press, 2009), p. 1391 (listed as a bust of a man, after the antique Demosthenes).