TheMarbleIndexThe Marble Index: Roubiliac and Sculptural Portraiture in Eighteenth-Century Britain
2015, New Haven and London: Yale University Press
Malcolm Baker, author

Providing the first thorough study of sculptural portraiture in 18th-century Britain, this important book challenges both the idea that portrait necessarily implies painting and the assumption that Enlightenment thought is manifest chiefly in French art.  By considering the bust and the statue as genres, Malcolm Baker, a leading sculpture scholar, addresses the question of how these seemingly traditional images developed into ambitious forms of representation within a culture in which many core concepts of modernity were being formed.  The leading sculptor at this time in Britain was Louis Francois Roubiliac (1702–1762), and his portraits of major figures of the day, including Alexander Pope, Isaac Newton, and George Frederic Handel, are examined here in detail.  Remarkable for their technical virtuosity and visual power, these images show how sculpture was increasingly being made for close and attentive viewing.  The Marble Index eloquently establishes that the heightened aesthetic ambition of the sculptural portrait was intimately linked with the way in which it could engage viewers familiar with Enlightenment notions of perception and selfhood.

FameandFriendshipFame and Friendship: Pope, Roubiliac and the Portrait Bust in Eighteenth-Century Britain
2014, London: Paul Holberton Publishing
Malcolm Baker, author

No literary figure of the 18th-century was more esteemed than the poet Alexander Pope, and his sculpted portraits exemplify the celebration of literary fame at a period when authorship was being newly conceived and the portrait bust was enjoying new popularity. Accompanying an exhibition at Waddesdon Manor (The Rothschild Collection), this publication explores the convergence between authorship, portraiture, and the sculpted image in particular, by bringing together a wide range of works that foreground Pope’s celebrity status.

Pope took great pains over how he was represented and carefully fashioned his public persona through images, published letters and the printed editions of his works. Examined alongside some of the most celebrated painted portraits of the poet, will be a selection of the printed texts which Pope planned with meticulous care. The core of the publication will consist of eight different versions of the same portrait bust by the leading sculptor of the period, Louis François Roubiliac. Read More →