Joseph Nollekens

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Nollekens, Joseph (1737–1823). An English sculptor, Nollekens was the son of an Antwerp painter settled in England. Between 1760 and 1770, in Rome, he laid the foundations of his financial and artistic success. He made a fine, if not always honest, living, dealing in antique fragments and sculpture. Several portrait busts he carved at this time ensured that his reputation preceded him, and on his return to London he established a successful practice. Nollekens's sitters included royalty, literary men, and numerous politicians; William Pitt refused to sit for him, yet casts of the excellent bust which Nollekens made from a death mask and a portrait were extremely popular. Many of his monuments and busts are in Westminster abbey. Nollekens was established as notoriously mean in the biography written by his pupil J. T. Smith (1828).

June Cochrane