Reference Entry

Hewetson, Christopher

Fintan Cullen

in Oxford Art Online


Published online January 2003 | e-ISBN: 9781884446054 | DOI: https://dx.doi.org/10.1093/gao/9781884446054.article.T037974

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(b Thomastown, Co. Kilkenny, c. 1736; d Rome, 1798).

Irish sculptor. He went to school at Kilkenny College, after which he may have studied briefly in Dublin. By 1765 he was in Rome, where he remained for the rest of his career. He established himself as one of the finest of Neo-classical portrait sculptors of the period, and he became a leading member of the Anglo-Roman community. Occasionally he signed his work Christophorus Hewetson Hibernus Fecit, in an assertion of his Irish origins.

Among his early commissions in Rome are several portrait busts of British aristocrats: that of Sir Watkin Williams Wynn (terracotta, 1769; Dublin, N.G.), that of the antiquary Charles Towneley (marble, 1769; priv. col.), and one of William Henry, Duke of Gloucester (1772; Windsor Castle, Berks, Royal Col.). In 1771 he was commissioned to execute two identical marble busts of the pope, Clement XIV; later he produced at least two further versions (Beningborough Hall, N. Yorks, NT; New Haven, CT, Yale Cent. Brit. A.). Together these works, especially the papal busts, reveal Hewetson’s rapid advance to technical mastery, his controlled carving enabling him to convey the intricate embroidery of Clement’s garment, including the gentle tug of its front tassel. His sitter’s face is lively and convincingly authoritative, although Hewetson appears to have made little attempt to capture any sense of psychological depth. This diminution by Hewetson of the personality of each of his sitters is also found in the portrait busts of artists, writers and others that he carved over the years: ...

Reference Entry.  656 words. 

Subjects: Sculpture and Carving ; 18th-Century Art

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