Collection Highlights: Western Art
Sir Christopher Wren (1632–1723)
Edward Pierce (c.1630–1695), marble bust, 66.1 cm high, 1673. Given by the sitter’s son, in 1737 and attributed by him to Pierce.
Portrait busts, other than for funerary monuments, were still extremely rare in this period, and this has been called the best piece of sculpture made by an Englishman in the seventeenth century. No other portrait of Wren catches him in anything but the settled dignity of the establishment; this one, in its quick and eager vitality, answers the versatile genius of the young sitter, brilliant mathematician and great architect. Pierce worked for Wren as a sculptor, notably in St Paul's; the exuberance of this bust and the sophistication of the treatment are unlike anything else in Pierce's work. [Presented to the University of Oxford by Christopher Wren, the sitter's son, 1737. Transferred to the Ashmolean Museum, 1916. WA1916.74, NBP559].
Second Floor, Room 46 Baroque Art