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Lt. Col. William Martin Leake (1777-1860) F.R.S., LL.D.: M.1-1865

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Object information


Lt. Col. William Martin Leake (1777-1860) F.R.S., LL.D.


Behnes, William (Sculptor)


White marble portrait bust of William Martin Leake.

Legal notes

Given by S. M. Leake

Acquisition and important dates

Method of acquisition: Given (1865-07-03) by Leake, S. M.


Mid-19th Century
Production date: marked AD 1840 : dated


Dublin-born and Royal Academy-trained, William Behnes was a highly successful and sought-after portrait sculptor, considered by many the equal of the highly prolific portraitist, Sir Francis Chantrey (1781-1841).

Founder of the Royal Geographical Society, Leake is acknowledged as one of the greatest authorities on the topography of Ancient Greece. He was commissioned in the Royal Artillery in 1794 and between 1798 and 1810 spent most of his time on missions to Ottoman Turkey and Greece. After 1815, he lived in England working on his notes, and publishing numerous papers and ten books, including the 'Topography of Athens' (1821) and 'Travels in Northern Greece' (1835). He presented his collection of classical marbles to the British Museum in 1839, the year before this bust was made.

In 1864, four years after Leake’s death, the Fitzwilliam Museum purchased his collection of ancient coins, Greek vases, gems, and bronzes for £5,000. This was the Museum’s first major purchase and was hotly debated. Many objects from the Leake Collection are on view in the Greek and Roman Gallery, including a black-figure Amphora made in Athens, c.520-510 BCE, portraying a warrior’s departure.

People, subjects and objects depicted

Components of the work

Plinth Height 14.6 cm
Bust Height 63.5 cm

Materials used in production

White marble

Techniques used in production

Carving : White marble, carved

Inscription or legends present

  • Text: W. BEHNES./SCULP-LONDON./1840
  • Location: At the back
  • Method of creation: Inscribed

References and bibliographic entries

Identification numbers

Accession number: M.1-1865
Primary reference Number: 30923
External ID: CAM_CCF_M_1_1865
Stable URI

Audit data

Created: Saturday 6 August 2011 Updated: Tuesday 4 August 2020 Last processed: Thursday 8 April 2021

Associated departments & institutions

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

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The Fitzwilliam Museum (2022) "Lt. Col. William Martin Leake (1777-1860) F.R.S., LL.D." Web page available at: Accessed: 2022-07-06 02:58:48

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{{cite web|url= |title=Lt. Col. William Martin Leake (1777-1860) F.R.S., LL.D. |author=The Fitzwilliam Museum|accessdate=2022-07-06 02:58:48|publisher=The University of Cambridge}}

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