Wilton bust bought for National Portrait Gallery
- National Portrait Gallery
- 24 September 2012
The Art Fund has helped buy a magnificent marble bust of 'champion of Liberty' Thomas Hollis for the National Portrait Gallery.
Hollis was an 18th-century British thinker whose ideas on liberty would ultimately shape the writing of the American Constitution. This sculpture, which captures Hollis's mercurial character in its enigmatic half-smile, is the last portrait of the Hollis remaining in Britain.
The bust is one of the greatest crafted by pre-eminent sculptor Sir Joseph Wilton, and was acknowledged by contemporaries as the finest likeness created of Hollis. John Adams, who would become President of the United States of America, spoke highly of the 'beautiful white marble' depiction of his friend.
Wilton's naturalistic portrait shows Hollis bare-chested, evoking the Roman senator Brutus. The base is decorated with a cap and daggers motif, the traditional emblems of liberty, acknowledging the sitter's commitment to democratic ideals.
Dr Lucy Peltz, Curator of 18th-Century Portraits at the National Portrait Gallery, said, 'This bust captures Hollis's personality and conveys his uncompromising devotion to the principles of liberty'. The sculpture will be the third bust by Wilton in the National Portrait Gallery, joining portraits of William Pitt and General Wolfe.