John Raphael Smith (1751-1812), a famous printmaker and print publisher, was a patron of the sculptor. He was also deaf, and Chantrey was reported as saying that 'the expression of deafness was conveyed principally by the mouth. If you observe a deaf man's mouth, you will always find the lips unclosed when he is attending to you'.
Although the bust is dated some 13 years after Smith's death, it was probably based on a model made during his lifetime. Smith was to have a significant influence on Chantrey, whom he met when he was an apprentice to a restorer and picture-framer. Later, when Chantrey moved to London, Smith helped by introducing him to potential patrons.
Sir Francis Legatt Chantrey (1781-1842) was an English sculptor, painter, and patron. He was probably the most successful portrait sculptor of his day. Together with Flaxman Chantrey can be ranked as England's greatest sculptor engaging in portrait busts and statues. He was particularly skilled in carving drapery. On his death he left a fortune of £150,000 which was later bequeathed to the Royal Academy to be used for the 'Encouragement of British Fine Art in Painting and Sculpture'.
Sculpture, Room 22, The Dorothy and Michael Hintze Galleries, case P2
This object is part of "Scan The World". Scan the World is a non-profit initiative introduced by MyMiniFactory, through which we are creating a digital archive of fully 3D printable sculptures, artworks and landmarks from across the globe for the public to access for free. Scan the World is an open source, community effort, if you have interesting items around you and would like to contribute, email firstname.lastname@example.org to find out how you can help.
Courtesy of the Victoria and Albert Museum, London