Christopher Hewetson spent his career in Rome in the circle of the early neo-classicists, carving portraits of several of them as well as of eminent Italians and the distinguished Grand Tourists who visited the city.

Charles Townley (1739-1805) inherited the family estate near Burnley, making extended visits to Italy. As Catholics, the Townleys, like all other recusant families, were disqualified from holding public office. This did, however, allow Townley to indulge his passion for collecting antiquities, amassing the most famous English collection of classical sculptures of the day, the highlights of which were depicted by Johan Zoffany in his famous portrait of Charles Townley in his Library. Hewetson's bust shows the sitter alert and full of youthful enthusiasm.

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