Dated 1836, this is a replica of the marble bust of Charles Long, 1st Baron Farnborough (1760–1838), commissioned in 1819 by the sitter’s father-in-law, Sir Abraham Hume. The original was exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1820 and is now in the National Portrait Gallery, London. Who commissioned Chantrey to produce this replica and why remains a mystery, but it was paid for in 1842 by one of Lord Farnborough’s nephews, by which point both Chantrey and Farnborough had died.
Charles Long was a Tory politician and a promoter and patron of the arts, active on the ‘Committee of Taste’ and a founding governor of the British Institution and a Trustee of both the British Museum and the National Gallery. He was made Paymaster General and created baron on his retirement in 1826. A notable connoisseur and collector himself, he was also art adviser to George IV and known as ‘the spectacles of the King’.
This is a replica of the marble bust of Charles Long, 1st Baron Farnborough, commissioned in 1819 by the sitter’s father-in-law, Sir Abraham Hume. The original was exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1820 and is now in the National Portrait Gallery, London. Chantrey was the leading portrait sculptor in England in the period 1810 to 1840.
This replica bust in Carrara marble was commissioned from Chantrey in 1833, completed 1834, dated 1836 and chiselled with both the sculptor’s and sitter’s names. Who commissioned the replica and why remains a mystery, but it was paid for in 1842 by one of Lord Farnborough’s nephews, by which point both Farnborough and Chantrey had died. It was made from the plaster cast (of the original clay model) which remained in the sculptor’s studio and is now in the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford.
Charles Long, as he was prior to the age of 66 when he was made a baron, was born in Surrey in 1760, the fourth son of a West Indies merchant. At Cambridge University he became friends with the future prime minster William Pitt and the writer and artist George Cumberland, both of whom influenced the two strands of Long’s life.
Long entered parliament as a Tory MP in 1789 and sat in the House of Commons until 1826. He reached the post of Paymaster-General in the Treasury and was involved with many of the art institutions of his day, becoming known as ‘arbiter of England’ where the arts were concerned. Yet to many he seemed imperfectly qualified for that role. Conscientious and hard-working, he was essentially a man of conventional taste. Long’s involvement in spending public money on the arts began in 1796, when as a Treasury official he was appointed chairman of a Committee for National Monuments to commemorate naval and military heroes in St Paul’s Cathedral and Westminster Abbey – popularly known as the ‘Committee of Taste’. Sir George Beaumont was also a member.
During 1823–4 Long played a crucial part in the foundation of the National Gallery and negotiated the purchase of John Julius Angerstein’s collection in 1824, which formed the nucleus of the national collection. When the government hesitated over the purchase, Sir George Beaumont issued his famous challenge, ‘Buy Angerstein’s pictures and I will give you mine!’ Both Long and Beaumont became Trustees of the National Gallery and were responsible, with the other Trustees, for the acquisition of pictures. In 1826 they successfully recommended the purchase of Titian’s Bacchus and Ariadne, Poussin’s Bacchanalian Revel before a Term and Christ appearing to Saint Peter on the Appian Way (Domine Quo Vadis?) by Annibale Cararacci.
Long was also a Trustee of the British Museum (where he was involved in the purchase of the Parthenon Sculptures) and the Hunterian Museum, a founding governor of the British Institution and a governor of Greenwich Hospital. He was a friend and unofficial adviser on artistic matters to the Prince of Wales (later King George IV) – causing him to be called ’spectacles to the king'. He married the amateur artist Amelia Hume, and formed a modest collection of pictures. He bequeathed 15 paintings from his collection to the National Gallery, including Landscape with a Shepherd and his Flock by Rubens.
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