Joseph Nollekens

The Reverend Sir Mark Sykes

NEW - Sykes (1711–1783) was long dead when this bust was made at the request of his grandson, who had inherited the family estates. Working after a portrait, Nollekens chose to dwell on Sykes' age and homeliness, even showing him to have lost his teeth – as if to tell us that the bust offers a true likeness. The striking image implies that both sitter and the bust’s viewers would prefer truth to flattery – an approach favoured by Nollekens, whose best work emphasizes – even takes pride in – the sitter’s individuality. Yet the sculptor clearly struggled in the absence of his model and, as if to compensate, paid great attention to Sykes' old-fashioned wig and dress.

G. Stern, London, UK (?) [1]

– 1964/12/18
Mrs. E. Aubrey, London, UK [2]

1964/12/18 – 1969/01/15
Heim Gallery Ltd. (François Heim and Andrew Ciechanowieki), London, UK, purchased from Ms. Aubrey [3]

1969/01/15 –
National Gallery of Canada, purchased from the Heim Gallery [4]

[1] In the files of the National Portrait Gallery, London, G. Stern of 15a Grafton Street, Westminster, London, is listed as former owner of the work [letter from NGC research curator Myron Laskin Jr. to scholar John Kenworthy-Browne, August 12, 1976].

[2] In a letter to Myron Laskin Jr., dated July 15, 1969, Andrew Ciechanowiecki notes that he acquired the bust from “Mrs. E. Aubrey, the widow of a London solicitor, who himself had bought it many years ago” [NGC curatorial file]. The Heim Gallery's stock books note her name as the source and Dec.18, 1964 as the date of purchase [Heim Gallery records, stock book Oct.1, 1968–Sept.30, 1969, Getty Research Institute, ID no. 910004-202].

[3] The National Gallery purchased the bust from the Heim Gallery on Jan.15, 1969 as The Earl of Mansfield [Accession log, NGC curatorial file].

[4] See note [3].

The Reverend Sir Mark Sykes
69.8 cm
Credit line
Purchased 1969
Accession number