A 19thC Black Painted Plaster Library Bust of Demosthenes; Wormington Grange

Origin: English
Period: Mid-Victorian
Provenance: Wormington Grange, England
Date: c.1870-90
Width: 12”
Depth: 8”
Height: 20.5”
Base Diameter: 7.75” (all at extremities)

The very decorative plaster portrait bust of Demosthenes (384–322 BCE), in his prime years, modelled after the Greek original held at the Museo Nazionale in Naples, sometimes described as portraying Lysimachus or Aratus, the head turned to dexter, above a waisted circular socle; inscribed Demosthenes to the reverse and surviving from the last quarter of the nineteenth century and from the Wormington Grange estate, England.

The bust has a very decorative appearance with some filler repairs as photographed. There is some other chipping and discolouration as per the photographs. He sits stable. There are similar models to this by Wedgewood in the 1770-80s.

Demosthenes is best known as the famed orator and statesman of ancient Athens. He is especially known for his “Philippics,” a series of nine orations delivered between 351 and 340 to warn his fellow Athenians against the encroaching power of Philip II of Macedon (382–336 BCE).

Demosthenes’ dream was to be a great orator, but he had speech impediments.  He was ridiculed early and often for his deficiencies, but he never quit. He corrected his defective elocution by speaking with pebbles in his mouth and prepared himself to overcome noise by speaking in stormy weather on the seashore. He also recited verses while running to improve his breathing and cadence and passed two or three months in an underground cave, practicing his oratory. While there, he would shave half of his head to prevent himself from leaving the cave.

Wormington Grange nestles in parkland close to Broadway in the Cotswolds.  The main house was built in the 1770’s for Nathaniel Jeffreys.  It was then extended for Josiah Gift by Henry Hakewill in the 1820’s, whose additions included a new east wing adjacent to the grand entry hall with Ionic columns, and stables of neo-classical design after Sir John Soane.  Wormington Grange has been the home of John Evetts since the 1970’s and his family for the last 100 years having been purchased by his great-grandmother in 1920.  His grandfather, Lord Ismay, held numerous notable military roles including Chief of Staff to the Ministry of Defence 1940-1946 and chief military assistant to Winston Churchill.  

Not a bust very widely seen and a hugely decorative one from a beautiful estate.