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Bust of John Horne Tooke (1736-1812): M.1-1861

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Object information

Current Location: Founder's Entrance Hall Upper Landing


Bust of John Horne Tooke (1736-1812)


Sculptor: Chantrey, Francis Legatt




Bust of John Horne Tooke. White marble.


History note: Sir Francis Chantrey; Lady Chantrey

Legal notes

Given by Lady Chantrey

Acquisition and important dates

Method of acquisition: Given (1861-11-02) by Lady Chantrey


19th Century, Early#
1818 CE - Circa 1819 CE


Chantrey was introduced to Tooke by a fellow sculptor, Joseph Banks. The plaster model for this bust was exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1811. Joseph Nollekens described it as ‘the best bust of all busts’ and moved one of his own pieces to give it greater prominence. Public acclaim followed, and Chantrey’s career as a sculptor was thus assured. At that time, however, neither Tooke nor Chantrey could afford to reproduce it in marble. The present bust was commissioned in 1818 by George Watson Taylor, MP, but on completion in 1819 it was never paid for, and thus remained in Chantrey’s possession until his death. It was inherited by his widow who presented it to the Museum in 1861, describing it ‘as one of my husband’s best works’.

Chantrey’s bust is a sympathetic portrait of a man already suffering from his last illness. The informality of Tooke’s dress, and his natural unaffected gaze are reminiscent of portraits by Louis-François Roubiliac.

John Horne studied law at Cambridge before becoming a priest, and receiving a curacy in Brentford. In 1782 he adopted the surname of his friend and mentor William Tooke. A radical reformer in politics, he founded the Constitutional Society, and favoured American independence. Having expressed support for the French Revolution in 1790, Tooke was arrested in 1794 for high treason but found not guilty.

People, subjects and objects depicted


  • Sculpture UK

Components of the work

Plinth Height 11.4 cm
Bust Height 50.8 cm

Materials used in production

White marble

Techniques used in production

Carving : White marble, carved

Inscription or legends present

  • Text: F. Chantrey Sc
  • Location: Signed at back
  • Method of creation: Inscribed

References and bibliographic entries

Related exhibitions

Identification numbers

Accession number: M.1-1861
Primary reference Number: 30919
External ID: CAM_CCF_M_1_1861
Stable URI

Audit data

Created: Saturday 6 August 2011 Updated: Monday 18 December 2023 Last processed: Monday 18 December 2023

Associated departments & institutions

Owner or interested party: The Fitzwilliam Museum
Associated department: Applied Arts

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The Fitzwilliam Museum (2024) "Bust of John Horne Tooke (1736-1812)" Web page available at: Accessed: 2024-07-20 14:04:24

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