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Outline Engravings And Descriptions Of The Woburn Abbey Marbles

RA Collection: Book

Record number



[S.l.:: s.n.,], M.DCCC.XXII

Physical Description

[118], 23, [1] p., 46 pl.: [2] illus.; 528 mm.

General Note

The 'List Of The Plates' lists 48 pl., but its pl. 47, 48 are the two in-text illustrations (the t.p. vignette and the tailpiece on the last page of text before the Appendix).


[T.p.] - List Of The Plates - [Divisional t.p., 'Sculpture Gallery'] - [Pl. I-IV with text] - [Divisional t.p., 'Marbles In The Sculpture Gallery ...'] - [Pl. V-XLVI with texts] - Vignettes - [Divisional t.p., 'Appendix ...'] - Dissertation On The Lanti Vase, By Mr. Christie - Dissertation On An Ancient Hymn To The Graces. By Ugo Foscolo - [Colophon].

Responsibility Note

The 'List Of The Plates' states 'The Drawings by Henry Corbould'. Most plates are signed as engraved by Henry Moses; others, by E. Turrell, Chas. Heath, Edwd. Finden, George Corbould, Henry Corbould or W. Finden; two are unsigned. The two in-text illustrations (t.p. vignette and tailpiece) are unsigned.

The printer is named on the t.p. verso and in the colophon: 'Printed By William Nicol, Shakespeare Press, Cleveland Row, St. James's'.


E. Angelicoussis, The Woburn Abbey collection of classical antiquities (1995); A.H. Smith, Catalogue of sculpture at Woburn Abbey (1900); A. Michaelis, Ancient marbles in Great Britain (1882), p.721-53.

On Canova's 'Three Graces' see R. Varese, Canova: le Tre Grazie (1997); H. Honour and A. Weston-Lewis, The Three Graces: A. Canova [exhibition catalogue] (1995).

A study of Foscolo's stay in Britain is C.M. Franzero, A life in exile: Ugo Foscolo in London, 1816-1827 (1977).

Summary Note

The publication-date of 1822 is carried by the title-plate, but a copy was presented to Sir Thomas Lawrence PRA by the Duke of Bedford in 1821.

The work describes ancient and modern sculptures bought by John Russell, sixth Duke of Bedford, displayed in the gallery and 'temples' commissioned by his brother, the fifth Duke. This was probably the last notable private collection of antiquities assembled in Britain. It includes bas-reliefs from Villa Aldobrandini and a vase from Hadrian's Villa. Like Lord Egremont at Petworth, the duke combined ancient with modern sculptures, commissioning work from Chantrey, Westmacott, Thorvaldsen and Canova. Canova, indeed, stayed at Woburn in 1815 and advised on the conversion of Holland's greenhouse into a sculpture gallery.

The plates show: 1-4. the sculpture gallery, created by H. Holland in 1789 (elevation, plan, section and one ancient vase); 5-14. ancient bas-reliefs, of mythological subjects; 15, 16. the 'Lanti' vase; 17-23. ancient statues of pagan deities; 24-26. ancient busts of Roman emperors; 27, 28. miscellaneous ancient sculptures; 29-34. modern bas-reliefs by Chantrey, Thorvaldsen and Westmacott, of mythological subjects; 35, 36. statue of Psyche by Westmacott; 37-45. the western elevation of the 'Temple of Liberty' (designed by Holland) and eastern elevation of the 'Temple of the Graces' (designed by Jeffry Wyatville), with sculptural groups by Flaxman, Westmacott, Canova ('The Three Graces') and Thorvaldsen; 46. ancient sarcophagus and torso of Cupid.

Foscolo's notes on Canova's 'Three Graces' form an interesting complement to his well-known poem, 'Le Grazie'.

Most of the collection remains at Woburn Abbey; but Canova's 'Three Graces' is now jointly owned by the Victoria and Albert Museum, London, and the National Gallery of Scotland, Edinburgh.


A front endpaper is inscribed in ink, 'From the Duke of Bedford'. Presented in 1823, possibly through Sir Thomas Lawrence (see RA Council Minutes, VI, 360; cf. Duke of Bedford's letter to Lawrence dated 10 June 1821 - ref. RA Archives Acc. 1997/1/02/008).

Binding Note

Half calf rebacked and recornered in 1989; 19th-century purple cloth-covered boards; spine lettered 'The Woburn Abbey Marbles' and '1822'.

Name as Subject


Sculpture, Greek - Sculpture, Roman - Bas-reliefs - Vases - Statues - Busts
Sculpture, European - Bas-reliefs - Statues - History - 19th century - Neoclassicism
Mythology, Greek - Iconography
Collections - Great Britain - Bedfordshire - Woburn Abbey - 19th century
Catalogues - Great Britain - 19th century
Pictorial works - Great Britain - 19th century


John Russell, 6th Duke of Bedford, previous owner, donor
Ugo Foscolo
James Christie the younger
William Nicol, printer
Henry Corbould, draughtsman, engraver
Henry Moses, engraver
Edmund Turrell, engraver
Charles Heath, engraver
Edward Francis Finden, engraver
George James Corbould, engraver
William Finden, engraver
Henry Holland, source artist
Sir Francis Chantrey RA, source artist
Bertel Thorvaldsen, source artist
Sir Richard Westmacott RA, source artist
John Flaxman RA, source artist
Antonio Canova, source artist