Bust of a Young Woman
William Theed (1804-1891)
The English sculptor William Theed began his artistic studies in the workshop of his father, a sculptor in Trentham, Staffordshire. This was followed by studies at the Royal Academy and a sojourn in Italy, in Rome naturally, where he worked with masters such as Danish sculptor Bertel Thorvaldsen and the Italian Pietro Tenerani. He specialised in portraiture and completed numerous statues and busts. In 1844, after a stay of about twenty years in Rome, Prince Albert, consort of Queen Victoria, commissioned him to design several statues to be exhibited at Osborne House on the Isle of Wight. Once back in London, he settled there permanently and continued to work for the Prince and the royal family, at Buckingham Palace and Westminster. This marble bust is signed and dated and shows stylistic traits acquired while working alongside Thorvaldsen and Tenerani: the figure of the young woman combines a measured realism and the smooth formal qualities of neo-classicism. In particular, we may note the face, the supple décolleté with a knotted bow, and the hairstyle reminiscent of 19th-century fashions.