A fox with her two cubs, c. 1848
Benjamin Gott (1832 – 1899) the Artist’s cousin; thence by descent.
Sir Edmund and Lady Loder, Eyrefield Lodge, Country Kildare, Ireland.
Their sale; Sheppards Irish Auction House, County Laois, Ireland, 12 March 2021, lot 412.
Private Collection, UK, acquired at the above sale.
Friedman & T. Stevens (eds.), Joseph Gott, 1786 – 1860, Sculptor, exh. cat., Temple Newsam House, Leeds, 1972 (as ‘untraced’).
Roscoe (ed.), A Biographical Dictionary of the Sculptors in Britain, 1660 – 1851, New Haven, CT and London, 2009, p. 545, no. 92.
London, Royal Academy, 1848, no. 1324 (as ‘A marble group of a fox and cubs. J. Gott’).
London, The International Exhibition, 1 May – 1 Nov. 1862 (as ‘J. Gott. Marble Group – Fox and Two Cubs. B Gott Esq.’)
‘Gott is a man of first-rate genius. His works have been furnished by the most fertile imagination; powerful conception of expression; a high feeling of beauty.’ (Thomas Uwins, the painter, writing in 1825)
Joseph Gott spent most of his career based in Rome, which was then the preeminent centre for artists of all persuasions, and Gott established a successful studio making sculptures for aristocrats travelling on the Grand Tour. Gott was born in London but brought up at Calverley, near Leeds, where his grandparents and cousins lived. At the age of twelve, in 1798, Gott was apprenticed to John Flaxman (1755 – 1826), the outstanding neo-classical sculptor in England. After his training at the Royal Academy Schools, where he won the Gold Medal for Sculpture in 1819, Gott’s talent was recognised by the President of the Royal Academy, the painter Sir Thomas Lawrence, who encouraged and paid for Gott to travel with his family to Rome.
In Rome Gott was introduced to Antonio Canova and designed monuments for the poets John Keats and Percy Bysshe Shelley, who had both recently died. After a difficult first year, Gott was again aided by Lawrence, who recommended him to Elizabeth, the Duchess of Devonshire and her step-son, the Sixth Duke of Devonshire, ahead of their visit to Rome. In 1823 the Duke commissioned from Gott his first animal group, A Greyhound with her two Puppies suckling, that today forms part of the celebrated Sculpture Gallery at Chatsworth House devised by the Duke (fig. 1). They were evidently enthralled by Gott’s work, the Duchess writing to a friend that Gott was ‘an artist full of genius’, and almost immediately Count Nikolai Demidoff asked Gott to make another version for his Villa San Donato.