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Sir Henry Cole was the founder and first Director and Secretary of the South Kensington Museum (part of which was to become the V&A). He played a leading role in the running of the Museum from its inception after the Great Exhibition in 1851 until his retirement in 1873 and was also the founder of the Royal Albert Hall.
Cole recorded eight sittings for Boehm in his diary for 1875, presumably for a version of this bust. Several other versions of the bust are known in marble, metal and plaster.
Cole is shown in contemporary dress, and his relatively informal demeanour perhaps reflects the more naturalistic style of sculpture which had been introduced by French artists who had come to work in London during the Paris Commune in the early 1870s, notably Jules Dalou (1838–1902), who taught at the National Art Training School (now the Royal College of Art) in South Kensington for several years.
Sir Henry Cole (1808–1882)
H 71.5 x W 51 x D 31 cm
artist's marks on rear of plinth