Completed Sculpture 26 Is this bust of Lord Nelson by Austin & Seeley?

SOM_BTT_BATBM_2001_1-001
Topic: Artist

This is not one of the Gahagan models – this bust is not carved stone but a cement composition – perhaps by Austin and Seeley (fl.1828–1860's).

Former Art UK Volunteer Alistair Brown provided this information on Austin & Seeley, who were the foremost producers of architectural and garden ornaments by the mid-nineteenth century. https://bit.ly/3yPHoJm

David Bridgwater, Entry reviewed by Art UK

Completed, Outcome

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25 comments

Jacinto Regalado,

Lucius Gahagan (fl. 1814-1866 according to the British Museum) was apparently a son or relative of the better known Lawrence Gahagan (active 1756-1820 according to the NPG), and the head of this bust appears copied from or based on a bust of Nelson by the latter:

https://bit.ly/3yVROHt

https://bit.ly/3OoXqzT

Jacinto Regalado,

According to Gunnis, Lucius was indeed the son of Lawrence Gahagan and his dates are given as 1773-1855. However, the list of his works in Gunnis do not include a portrayal of Lord Nelson. See below:

https://bit.ly/3PrJs1w (click on "Show Works" for the list)

Jacinto Regalado,

However, according to Gunnis, the bust of Nelson I linked above as by Lawrence Gahagan is the only bust of Nelson Gunnis lists for him, and it says the bust was "perhaps by Lucius Gahagan." See below:

https://bit.ly/3OpJS6Y

Lawrence Gahagan's dates are usually given as 1735-1820,
Lucius Gahagan's as 1773-1855. They both signed 'L.Gahagan' which does not help differentiation.

Though the marble attributed to Lawrence at Portsmouth is reported as 1797 it does not appear to be dated and this 1839 plaster by Lucius is inscribed with the claim that Nelson sat to Lawrence in 1798.

https://www.rmg.co.uk/collections/objects/rmgc-object-64039

Either would be possible, but in the latter case subject to when Nelson re-sailed for the Mediterranean after recovering from loss of his arm in '97: he didn't come back till 1800.

Unfortunately the bronze by Lawrence (NMM SCU0096) is not yet online, but he was best known for small bronzes.

That in question must have been made after the Battle of the Nile (1.8.1798) and probably before Nelson went up to Vice-Admiral in 1801, since it shows the badge the Turkish order of the Crescent and apparently only one epaulette star (rear-admiral).

Unfortunately that's not cut and dried, as an edition bust originally made by Lawrence in 1798 after the Nile omits the Crescent and still only shows the one star when reissued in 1805:

https://www.rmg.co.uk/collections/objects/rmgc-object-61604

Beckford was of course a decided Nelson fan and entertained him at Fonthill. The head here is certainly more 'Gahagan' than anyone else but since its apparently a modern (2001 ?) gift to the collection (probably for that reason) the first thing to know is whether it is stone or a cast edition, and - if the latter - are there any more around - or a catalogue - which might suggest maker rather than just source of the head pattern: the uniform could have come off others, e.g. Flaxman.

Jacinto Regalado,

The original of the Nelson bust listed in Gunnis was exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1798 (catalogue No. 1050)

Jacinto Regalado,

The dates currently given on Art UK for Lawrence Gahagan (1756-1820) are the period he was active; he was born c. 1735 according to Gunnis, so the vital dates need to be amended on Art UK.

Jacinto Regalado,

It is not our bust, but for the sake of interest, an 1805 print after a bust of Nelson, supposedly by Lucius Gahagan according to the British Museum, is at https://bit.ly/3Bdizdk

However, the print itself does not specify which Gahagan, and actually says "Gahagen Model'r" (at lower left just below the image)

The BM print is of a version of this one ('altered by R. Shout') which has a different socle:

https://www.rmg.co.uk/collections/objects/rmgc-object-61604

NMM certainly has one with the round socle too, but not online and they all show the problem of distinguishing which 'L. Gahagan' is the 'modeller'. They are all casts and reductions from a full-size original, if it was so and in marble. Richard Walker's 'The Nelson Portraits' is useful on the matter but I don't have a home copy.

Another NMM entry I briefly looked at in the database yesterday shows that he mentions the Gahagan cast that Frank Keevil gave to the Victoria Art Gallery at Bath c.1939 as still there but the pattern didn't sound like that of the bust in question here (TBC).

Marcie Doran,

A Mr. Cooper was also reproducing busts in the early 19th century. The court case 'Gahagan v Cooper’ from 1811 concerned the reproduction of Gahagan's bust of the Right Honourable C.J. Fox by Cooper in 1806. See pages 111-115 of this link. https://tinyurl.com/yxxuv79p

Marcie Doran,

Mr. Cooper might only have been selling reproductions of busts, not producing them.

This is the (plaster replica) bust given to the Victoria Art Gallery, Bath, by Frank Keevil in 1933, made from the one his firm claimed as an original dated 1804 and modelled by Gahagan when Nelson (certainly some years earlier than that) last visited Bath, as per Marcie's July 1939 clipping at 21/07/2022 20:18:

https://artuk.org/discover/artworks/horatio-nelson-17581805-262336

It's obviously related to the marble at Portsmouth and other versions of that, not to the one in question here.

If this one is indeed by Lucius Gahagan senior (Lawrence's second son, 1773-1855, and father of Lucius junior)
- what is the justification for that statement?
- is it a one-off in stone?
- are there other versions, carved or cast?

Jacinto Regalado,

While the material is of the sort used for garden ornaments, I tend to doubt a bust of Nelson would be used as such, so the proposed connection to Austin & Seeley seems unlikely.

The Gahagan plaster bust painted bronze at the Victoria Art Gallery Bath is no. 50 in Walker's 'Nelson portraits' (p.210, ill.) and bears the date 1804: it came from Mr and Mrs Frank Keevil in 1933, the Keevils being an old Bath family of moulders woodcarvers and cabinet-makers. Walker refers to a 1923 letter from Charles Drage to Geoffrey Callender (later first director of NMM) saying that Keevil had just made him a very good copy for £3, but Walker suggests the one they presented to the gallery ten years later 'may be an original [plaster-cast] by Gahagan'.

NMM SCU0099 (Walker no. 51) is a cast of the same 1804 version 'possibly made by the Keevils c. 1923' since incised 'F. Keevil and Sons, Moulders, Bath' on the back.

The only stone busts listed by Walker are the monumental one in Coade stone attributed to John Bacon, c. 1807, on the Portsdown monument (p. 188) and another on a square socle inscribed 'Coade & Seeley, Lambeth, 1800' (Walker no. 177, p. 254 and ill., p. 255).

NMM bought another (unincised) copy of this at Christie's in November 1980 (NMM SCU0101). They look straight ahead, with the hair more obviously parted at centre: the one in question here is different in various respects, including looking down to sitter right and does not appear to be Coade stone (though hard to tell).

Apart from examples in marble, Walker lists no others in 'stone' of any sort as far as I can see.

The hair is closest to the bronze painter plaster at Norwich, (Walker no. 56, p.213 and ill. p.60) which was given to the Castle Museum in 1842. It is inscribed 'Published by L. Gahagan Decr. 1st 1839 / Lord Nelson sat to L. Gahagan in 1798.' Adding an element of confusion is a tattered MS label on the back reading 'I had seven sittings from Admiral Nelson when he resided in Old Bond Street, London...'. which taken literally would imply he sat to Lucius rather than (in fact) Lawrence (d. 1820).

Those sittings would have been for the marble now at Portsmouth (Walker no. 48, p. 209 -https://bit.ly/3yVROHt) which is likely to have been the one shown at the RA in 1798 though subsequent versions were adjusted to look 'grimmer' acc. Walker. (The Portsmouth one is also misdated 1797 on Art UK since Walker says it is inscribed 1798 on the back.)

In short, it looks as though the present item was not known to Walker (pub. 1998) and that the head is perhaps based on a Gahagan plaster version of 1839, if it's that late. That's presumably why it has a Lucius Gahagan (senior) attribution at present, but lacking any clearer parallels or supporting information it looks pretty speculative.

Like Covid, there's a lot about in many variants, but no evidence that Lawrence did more than the one in marble: every other as-yet-documented Nelson by or adapted (primarily by Robert Shout) him or by his son Lucius is in either terracotta, bronze, plaster or 'broadly ceramic' but not stone. Unless someone can produce a convincing version of this one (whoever by and in whatever medium) just adding more Gahagan copies/variants of what we already know will not help.

If the Beckford Tower Trust have a better reason for the Lucius attribution than because that's what they were told by the donor, it would be interesting to know what it is.

Marcie Doran,

Could the donors have been "Mr. and Mrs. Pakeman" instead of "Mr. and Mrs. Pakemen"? On Ancestry, there are no records associated with the surname Pakemen in England after 1874, whereas there are two couples with the surname Pakeman in Bath in the 2003-2004 UK Electoral Register.

It is always possible that the donors were related to the firm "Thos. Pakeman and Son” of Bristol, which was active 1900–1919.
https://sculpture.gla.ac.uk/view/organization.php?id=msib1_1222706365

Perhaps there is a bust of someone else that is similar to this one.

Marcie Doran,

David Bridgwater has a blog entry from December 21, 2015 (“The Rysbrack Statuettes of Rubens, van Dyck and du Quesnoy, Part 26. The Dublin van Dycks and the Gahagan Dynasty of Sculptors”) that mentions the bust.

He has included a photo of it, in a garden, taken from a BBC website. It is about halfway down the blog entry.
http://bathartandarchitecture.blogspot.com/2015_12_21_archive.html

Below the photo is the following statement:
"Very poor photograph of a bust of Nelson found in a garden in Great Pulteney Street. Bath. Ascribed to Lucius Gahagan.
Now at Beckford's Tower, Lansdown, Bath".

Osmund Bullock,

Yes, "Mr & Mrs Pakemen" [sic] is certainly a typo (I agree that the spelling is unrecorded, at least in recent years), and the donors were almost certainly one of the two married Pakeman couples your mention living in Bath in the late 20th/early 21st Century. The husbands of those couples were in fact father and son.

The elder and more likely is Commander Richard Neil Pakeman, RN, OBE (1920-2012) and his wife Angela, who were in the city (electoral rolls and telephone directories) from the 1970s to the early 2000s, when they moved to Cornwall (their daughter-in-law came from Penzance). This would fit in with donating the bust in 2001, though we don’t know when they acquired it. Their son Michael John Pakeman (b.1962) and his wife Stella are listed at a (different) address in Bath in the early 2000s and then in 2011-14. They seem also to have had an address and/or business in Cornwall both before and since then, and both Michael and his widowed mother Angela are both currently listed in the county, albeit some 30 miles apart.

I’m posting this to save you work, Marcie, but in truth I don’t see how it helps us – that’s why I didn’t post it myself earlier. If you can figure out a link with the Bristol monumental masons I might change my mind, but this story about how the bust was at some unspecified date "discovered in a garden behind Great Pulteney Street" (presumably the one in Bath) suggests the shared surname is just coincidence: https://bbc.in/3b43gcj. Richard Pakeman was born in London; I haven’t traced his family any further back.

Marcie Doran,

Thank you for your remarkable research into the Pakeman family, Osmund. No apologies needed.

Osmund Bullock,

Sorry, that was in answer to your previous post, Marcie, and there's some overlap with your last one.

David Bridgman's blog piece is very informative. One key quote in it (which he gives twice) is from the 'Morning Chronicle' of 12 April 1806:

'LUCIUS GAHAGAN.– respectfully informs the Nobility and Gentry, that he is the only Professional Sculptor who ever was honoured with sittings for a BUST of the great LORD NELSON, having already sold upwards of 300 Casts, and also executed them in Marble and real Bronze, he hopes will be sufficient proof of the likeness being satisfactory. Casts of the above may be had of the Artist, No.5. Bentinck-street, Berwick-street, Soho, and nowhere else. Price one Guinea, or the size of Life Three Guineas each, to be paid for on delivery...'.

Backed up by the fragmentary MS label on the 1839 plaster at Norwich (Walker no. 56, p.213 and ill. p.60 - 'I had seven sittings from Admiral Nelson when he resided in Old Bond Street, London...') this suggests that the received information of his father Lawrence ever doing a bust of Nelson may be entirely wrong. The Yale listing also expresses such a doubt in its entry for that listed by Graves at the RA in 1798 (likely to be the marble now at NMRN, Portsmouth, which bears that inscribed date).

Is the matter of the (certainly later) stone one here really worth pursuing further as to authorship? The fact it was found in a Bath garden and Lucius's later-life residence and practice there (plus the general form of the head and hair) make the attribution reasonable, even if a bit too firmly stated at present.

It would still be useful to know if it is carved or cast and even more so if there was some report of a building that once had one which it might have come off. Lucius clearly did a lot of architectural work and that would be a plausible origin for it.

Apologies to David Bridgwater for getting his name wrong and failing to notice he was the one who originally raised the question so - as author of the informative blog - is presumably sure it is a cast form (?).