The William Henry Fox Talbot Catalogue Raisonné


Object within Schaaf no. 190

V. Bust of Patroclus.

Object details

Alternate titles

Plate V, "The Pencil of Nature", part 1, 24 June 1844

Created: 9 Aug 1842

Image size: h 13.5cm x w 12.8cm

Object Type: Salted Paper Print

Mount: Pencil of Nature page with ruled edge

Physical description: degree of edge fading; dark spots where retouched to disguise flaws in the negative are now visible as the print has faded round about them

Inscription: dated inscribed in the negative; in ink on mount, 5

Bruno Bischofberger

Owner: J. Paul Getty Museum

Object owner number: 84.XZ.571.1.5

Supporting images

This object is part of Schaaf no. 190

V. Bust of Patroclus.

Keywords: Sculpture

This is a smaller variant which featured as a plate in the first fascicle of "The Pencil of Nature" (published 24 June 1844).

The larger variant is Schaaf number 3706.

This bust is one of the objects most photographed by Talbot and is a plaster copy of a marble bust which was excavated by the Scottish artist and archaeologist, Gavin Hamilton (1730-1798). The original marble, found at Hadrian’s villa in Tivoli in 1769, was later acquired by the British Museum in 1805, where at the time of writing it is on display (museum number 1805,0703.86 / Gallery 22).

Although the subject of the bust is not known for certain, many attempts or guesses have been made since its discovery, none of which have been proven for certain. Hence the generic descriptive title, “Head of a Homeric Hero: marble bearded head of a companion of Ulysses, probably from a group showing Ulysses and companions blinding Polyphemus”.

It is thought that the marble version of the bust dates from about 100-150 BC, and is itself thought to be a Roman copy of a Hellenistic original dating from of about 200 BC. Talbot’s plaster version is therefore part of a long line of copies. Alternatively, it could be seen as having an impressive pedigree.