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William IV (1765-1837)


Object connections:

Collection Sculpture
Gallery locationQH (Floor plans)
PeopleDepiction: King William IV

Object details:

Object ID SCU0064
Description Head-and-shoulders classical-style marble bust of William IV on a round socle. The sitter's head is turned half to his left and has receding natural wavy hair over a high forehead. A loose robe is wrapped round his shoulders, folding over from his right to left at front centre. The piece is signed on the back 'SIR FRANCIS CHANTREY / SCULPTOR / 1841'. Chantrey's original bust was ordered when the sitter was still Duke of Clarence in 1829 but only executed in 1830 after his accession as William IV, immediately establishing Chantrey's position as his Sculptor-in-Ordinary. Eleven replicas followed, seven made after the King's death in 1837. This one was ordered (for 200 guineas) in 1839 by his widow, Queen Adelaide, for presentation to Greenwich Hospital. For many years, it stood as centrepiece in the Upper Hall on its matching cylindrical plinth, which no longer survives though it is recorded in photographs. William had begun life as a serving naval officer, including as a subordinate and friend of Nelson, and as Duke of Clarence was briefly Lord High Admiral under his eldest brother George IV. This all earned him the soubriquet 'the Sailor King' when he unexpectedly succeeded to the throne in 1830 as George's only surviving brother. He was an enthusiastic supporter of Greenwich Hospital, ensuring the appointment of his old naval friend Admiral Sir Richard Keats as Governor in 1821 and erecting a monument to him there, also by Chantrey, on his death in 1834 (PAI8792). He also approved Sir Thomas Hardy's subsequent appointment as Governor (1834-39), but with the stipulation that he be recalled to sea should emergency warrant it. William was good-hearted, enjoyed nautical company and was a popular visitor to the Hospital on several occasions during his reign. He was reported to have spent the last hours of his life signing royal pardons until he could no longer hold the pen.
Date made 1841

Artist/Maker Chantrey, Francis Legatt
Credit National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, London, Greenwich Hospital Collection
Materials marble
Measurements Overall: 725 mm x 560 mm x 310 mm x 93 kg
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