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Roubiliac, Louis François

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Roubiliac the sculptor was born of Huguenot descent at Lyons and was apprenticed to Permoser, sculptor to the Elector of Saxony, in Dresden. He came to England about 1732 and Rupert Gunnis relates that Roubiliac, returning from Vauxhall one evening shortly after his arrival, came across a pocket book containing valuables that belonged to Sir Edward Walpole. Walpole was so grateful for its return that he introduced Roubiliac to the noted sculptor, Sir Henry Cheere, who engaged him as his assistant. Not long after, he received his first independent commission, for the famous statue of Handel at Vauxhall Gardens. From then on he never looked back. In 1758 he completed the full-length statue of Shakespeare (now in the British Museum) for Garrick’s Temple at Hampton and made a bust of Garrick, which can be seen in the Garrick Club’s painting by Soldi (727). The Club is fortunate in possessing a gilt bronze high-relief bust of Garrick (S0015), as well as a terracotta bust of Shakespeare (S0029). Several busts of notable characters were made for the Chelsea pottery factory. Gunnis remarks that Roubiliac ‘was probably the greatest sculptor to work in England during the eighteenth century … his busts are unsurpassed.’
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