Busts of a Victorian Gentleman and Lady
Edward Davis (1813-1878)
1849, White marble
The busts of this noble couple, dated 1849, are derived from an ancient Roman model. The identity of the man is unknown, although the care taken in the thick drapery and the wavy hair, showing skilful use of the drill, indicates that the patron and artist were well acquainted with one another. The drapery, gathered on the right shoulder, is reminiscent of many works of nineteenth-century English portraiture. The bust of the woman suffers from neo-classical idealisation: there is a clear resemblance to female faces of ancient Greece, translated here into polished marble showing very refined execution but a lack expressiveness. The woman's dress is characterised by a wide neckline and drapery that wraps around her chest; her hair is gathered in a braid wrapped in a chignon and tied with ribbon. Edward Davis was mainly a portrait sculptor; he was born in Carmarthen, South Wales, and studied in London. He exhibited at the Academy for most of his life, starting in1834: his last exhibition was in 1877.