The posthumous bust is a difficult animal. Many public sculptures concentrate on the descriptive and decorative, achieving great combinations of the features and clothing of personalities of their day, often on rather more generic heads and bodies for which there is inadequate documentary information existing. They often do not enlarge experience.
With Capability Brown, there are excellent portraits in existence which give good information on the head and his character. The eyes emit something and connect with the viewer. The 4 works in the National Portrait Gallery here are a great start, especially as in easy public view in our national collection.
Where a sculptor has a history of sittings – perhaps 100 or more – with living personalities, those forms can start to fill in some of the gaps missing from documentary sources. When there is a record of the clays created at the sittings by the sculptor’s hands (often destroyed when works are taken to the foundry to be cast in bronze), this is even more helpful to the task in hand.
portrait of artist and archive of terracottas (2013) by Anne Purkiss