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Posts Tagged ‘Lord North’

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I took a neck-ricking double take last week while attending a brilliant talk by Tom Almeroth-Williams at the sumptuous Spencer House. This is quite possibly the weirdest sculpture I’ve ever seen. Disarming, creepy but in its own way rather fabulous. Acquired as recently as 1990 at auction, one might well question whether this is best use of a fine piece of marble.

But what is it?

Well, it’s almost literally a Rowlandson cartoon carved in stone. The classical allusion is the infant Hercules strangling a brace of serpents. But here the heads of the trio are replaced by Pitt the Younger as Hercules and Charles James Fox and Lord North as the snakes. Commissioned by the Pitt-supporting 4th Earl of Bristol, it was carved around 1790 by the minor Italian sculptor Pieratoni (‘Sposino’).

Read this excellent, more detailed and scholarly interpretation at the Smithsonian web site. My thanks to LH Member Janet Gibson for finding it.

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