William Behnes

Robert Vernon

1849

Medium
Marble
Dimensions
Object: 787 x 565 x 279 mm
Collection
Tate
Acquisition
Presented by Queen Victoria, the Prince Consort and other subscribers in acknowledgment of his gift to the nation in 1847 of his collection of British paintings and sculptures 1850
Reference
N02237

Display caption

In 1849 the picture dealers Paul and Dominic Colnaghi suggested that Vernon's gift to the nation should be commemmorated. It was proposed that a fund should be set up, through a public appeal, for a 'Vernon Medal', to be awarded annually to 'meritorious students' of the Royal Academy. In May 1849 Vernon sat to William Behnes, who modelled a portrait in profile for the proposed medal, as well as a bust. However, the appeal was a failure and the proposal dropped. Instead, Behnes sculpted two busts of Vernon. One went to Ardington parish church, where Vernon, by this time, was buried. The other, this one, was presented to the National Gallery.

Gallery label, August 2004