Unknown (English 19C [Copeland & Sons?])
Parian porcelain
Presented by William Taylor Copeland, Esq., by 1868
Present location unknown

The details listed above appear in the Melbourne Public Library’s 1870-71 Annual Report (covering acquisitions from the inception of the library to 1870), clearly describing this work as a bust “from the antique in the British Museum, in Parian” (for this medium, see * Bonham Carter Florence Nightingale {1880} Loc? [SC]), and identifying the donor as an MP and Alderman of London.

The work reproduced was obviously the marble bust purchased by Charles Townley in Naples in 1772, and said to be his favourite work (British Museum 1805,0703.79). Traditionally called Clytie, whose unrequited love for Apollo led to her transformation into a sunflower, the figure has also been identified as Antonia (36 BC – 37 AD), the daughter of Mark Anthony, and the mother of Germanicus and the future Emperor Claudius. The British Museum date the bust to c.40-50 AD, while adding that it seems to have been reworked extensively in the 18th century.

William Taylor Copeland (1797-1868), besides being Lord Mayor of London (1835-6) and the Conservative member of parliament for Stoke-upon-Trent (1837-52 and 1857-65), was also, significantly, the owner of Copeland & Sons, the china and glass company founded by his father William Copeland and Josiah Spode in 1770: see now Copeland pottery [DA], noting various pre-Felton examples (some still in the NGV).

It seems logical, then, to suggest that the present bust was also a product of the Copeland factory, donated sometime before Copeland died in 1868.

It was presumably similar to the example reproduced here, a bust of Clytie recently offered for sale by M.Lees & Son, Worcestershire, dated to c.1860, and described as “in fine Parian porcelain probably by the English factories of Minton, Ridgway or Copeland but unmarked.”

The pre-Felton collection also appears to have included a second copy of the British Museum bust, a plaster cast, catalogued in NGV 1894 as the gift of James Murphy (and listed separately in the MPL’s 1870-71 report as one of the casts donated by Murphy in the 1860s).

[photo: Parian bust of Clytie offered for sale by M.Lees & Son, 2020]


See AR 1870-71: two separate entries on p.28: Parian bust, as noted above, and plaster bust (as donated by Murphy); see also NGV 1894, p.147 (VIII.The Cast Gallery (Antique Room), no.44)

For the Townley bust, see the British Museum’s online catalogue, also citing Jones, Fake? The Art of Deception (British Museum exh.cat., 1990). For the Parian bust offered by Lees & Son, see https://www.sellingantiques.co.uk/666780/c19th-english-parianware-bust-study-of-clytie-the-water-nymph-from-greek-mythology/ (accessed 6 Sept.2020; noting the height of the bust as 12 inches, and suggesting a price of £450)