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“There was already an obsession with celebrity, and it strengthened in the 19th century where there were heightened ideas of Romanticism, especially in France,” says sculpture dealer Stuart Lochhead, who picks the work as a favourite in his show Artists by Artists: Sculpted Portraits in the 19th century.

Going for bust

Accordingly, the bust sculpted by Albert-Ernest Carrier-Belleuse was dramatic in pose and over life-size in scale. On the anniversary of Delacroix’s death it served as the centrepiece of a banquet attended by fellow artists such as Manet, Stevens, Corot, who toasted the bust as though it were Delacroix himself.

The sculpture is one of 11 works in various media in Lochhead’s exhibition, running from June 18- July 26. Each reflects how various creative minds represented those they admired, from teachers to Old Masters.

Included are a plaster bust of Frans Hals (1885) by Jean Carriès, a marble relief of John Everett Millais (1853) by Alexander Munro, and a clock in bronze and marble topped by a figure of Michelangelo by Jean- Jacques Feuchère. All are offered for prices from over £20,000-200,000.

“Searching for sculptured portraits of artists started out as a journey looking for artworks and then soon revealed powerful stories about the sitters,” says Lochhead, who organised the show in partnership with Paris dealer Etienne Breton of Saint-Honoré Art Consulting.

He adds: “I’m biased, but sculpture brings something to reality much more than a painting will. You’re getting a much closer look at the person in front of you rather than just flat on the wall.”

It is the inaugural show at Lochhead’s St James’s gallery after he set it up independently last year. He worked with Mayfair dealer Daniel Katz for more than 20 years.