A bust of the late Mr Belfour

displayed at a conversazione on 28th June 1865

ROYAL COLLEGE OF SURGEONS.—The President, Vice-Presidents, and Council of this College invited the attendance of the Fellows, members, and a large and distinguished party to a conversazione on the 28th inst., on which occasion the whole of the rooms of the large establishment were thrown open for the reception of the guests, who began to arrive soon after 9 o'clock.

In the Council-room were displayed the handsome mace of the College, presented by George IV., together with some valuable plate ; here also were seen the large painting by Hans Holbein of Henry VIII granting the charter to the Barber Chirurgeons, and that chef d'oeuvre of Sir Joshua Reynolds, the portrait of John Hunter, the founder of the Anatomical Collection ; Sir Astley Cooper's portrait, by Sir Thomas Lawrence ; the portrait of Sir Caesar Hawkins, by Hogarth ; and many other past worthies of the College.

It was the noble library of the institution, however, which was, perhaps, the chief point of attraction ; here were displayed some fine specimens of sculpture from the studios of Macdowell, Weekes, Noble, Adams, and others. The last-named gentleman contributed a life-like bust of the late Mr. Edmund Belfour who for the long period of 54-years performed the duties of secretary to the College. On the walls were suspended some of the finest paintings from the easels of Sir Edward and Mr. Charles Landseer, contributed by those gentlemen. Mr. E.W. Cooke, R.A., most liberally supplied a large number of his charming works, as did also Mrs. Gibbons from her large and valuable collection. Professor Fergusson contributed a fine view of Edinburgh from Craig Miller, one of the earliest productions of the late David Roberts, a portrait of John Abernethy by Sir Thomas Lawrence, and a small copy of Holbein's large picture above alluded to. Mr. Hodgson, the president, sent the fine picture by Hannah, of Harvey demonstrating his theory of the circulation of the blood to Charles I., so well known to most readers by the engraving of Mr. Lemon. Professor Quain sent some of Sydney Cooper's fine groups of cattle ; Professors Prescott, Hewitt, and W. Bowman sent several fine paintings from their collection.

In the smaller library were deposited the result of the explorations by Professor Busk of the caves at Gibraltar, exhibiting some rare specimens of extinct animals, domestic utensils, and stone arrow-heads. Dr Cobbold, of the Middlesex Hospital, displayed the fine collection of entozoa from human bodies, prepared by him for the museum. In this room were also some interesting and extraordinarily minute dissections, especially one of the arteries of the foot, injected and prepared by Professor Fergusson 35 years ago.

The Council of the Royal Botanic Society most liberally supplied a large collection of fine exotic plants of rare beauty ; and, to make up for the deficiency of smell, Mr. Rimmel had ingeniously placed his perfume vaporizers, now in constant use at the College during the anatomical examinations, near the plants, thus dispersing a most agreeable perfume of sweetbriar throughout the building. The three museums were brilliantly lighted by Messrs. Hulett of Holborn, bringing into fine relief the large statue of John Hunter, by Weekes, R.A. Upwards of 2,000 visitors availed themselves of the hospitality of the President, Vice-Presidents, and Council.

The Times, Friday, Jun 30, 1865; pg. 9; Issue 25225; col F

John Adams-Acton (1830-1910) was born John Adams, adding the suffix "Acton" in 1869 to avoid confusion with a painter of the same name. He studied in Rome under the sculptor John Gibson, returning to Britain in 1865 with a reputation as a talented portrait sculptor. You can see some of his work at the National Portrait Gallery.

Help wanted: If you know of a photograph of this bust or of its present whereabouts please let me know. It would be interesting to see it.