Portrait of George Clavering-Cowper, 3rd Earl of Cowper
Innocenzo Spinazzi (1718-1798)
This fine marble bust is signed and dated on the reverse with the inscription 'Innoc.o Spinazzi Rom.o Fac.a in Firenze 1787'. An accomplished sculptor, Spinazzi executed this bust in the same year in which he revealed one of his most important works, the Monument to Niccolò Machiavelli in the church of Santa Croce in Florence, and we recognise it to be the portrait of the third Earl of Cowper, nephew of George II of England, who was an excellent diplomat, a highly cultured patron, and a great supporter of Machiavelli. The work was made by referencing the portrait painted by Giuseppe Antonio Fabrini (at the Accademia Etrusca in Cortona) and the effigy that appears in Johann Zoffany's famous painting, The Tribune of the Uffizi, which depicts Cowper in front of a painting in his collection, Raphael's Madonna, which is named after him and is now in the collection of the National Gallery of Art in Washington DC. Like most aristocrats in the 18th century, the young George embarked on a Grand Tour at the behest of his father, who had not, however, foreseen that his son, having arrived in Florence in 1759, would never want to leave. Spinazzi, who established himself in Rome and later in Florence, where he become court painter, was an excellent portraitist and this depiction of the intellectual Cowper presents an intense reading of his proud character.