Philipp von Stosch

I didn’t have time for more than a whistlestop tour of the Getty’s exhibition of the work of Bouchardon last night and was principally struck by the astonishing neoclassical bust of Baron Philipp von Stosch, done in 1727 when Bouchardon was a student at the French Academy in Rome.   I had not realised that Stosch supplemented his income by acting as a spy for George II;  nor that, when he was unmasked as a spy in 1731, he moved to Florence where he established a Masonic lodge in 1733 which in turn led to the ban on Freemasonry by Pope Clement XII on the ground that the Lodge in Florence was a hotbed of Rosicrucian speculation.   Stosch was described by Compton Mackenzie as ‘an expatriated Prussian sodomite’, but it doesn’t say this on the label.

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6 thoughts on “Philipp von Stosch

  1. bibleofbritishtaste says:

    Dear Charles, On the wonderful connoisseur Stosch, do have look at p.18 of my book, Owning the Past, for the Baron’s fabulous pair of marble ‘Venus’ buttocks that he so much prized. They were subsequently owned by Lord Bessborough, ‘Father’ of the Dilettanti Society, and then Henry Blundell of Ince, but now they are unvalued dismally consigned to a dexion rack in the Liverpool Museum’s off-site stores.

  2. Dick Humphreys says:

    Von S is a dominant figure in Lesley Lewis’s wonderful ‘Connoisseurs and Secret Agents in 18th Century Rome’ (1961).

  3. Dick Humphreys says:

    That sounds fascinating – but I haven’t a clue!
    She also wrote ‘The Private Life of a Country House’ about being brought up in Pilgrim’s Hall, Essex, between the wars – he probably didn’t like the sound of that either!

  4. Dick Humphreys says:

    Hang on – just Googled this, supporting your ‘rumour’ – and also strengthening my dim view of AB:
    “When I interviewed Miss Lewis at her home in Chelsea she told me a curious tale concerning Anthony Blunt, then Keeper of the Queen’s picture collection at Windsor. Many years earlier Blunt had been Miss Lewis’s teacher at the Courtauld Institute where, it seems, he at first had a very high regard for her work. However, when she chose to write her thesis on the rôle of European court painters as spies, Blunt reacted icily to her choice of subject and refused to comment on the finished work. Miss Lewis was devastated, believing his reaction to indicate that he had little regard for her ability, which severely affected her self-esteem thereafter.

    Only years later did she discover, along with the rest of us, that the art historian ‘Sir’ Anthony Blunt had long been a Soviet spy and British traitor – a man who used his position at the heart of the British establishment and at Court to serve his KGB masters. All this had been known to the British government and the Royal family (who continued to employ him) for many years before his treachery was revealed to the nation in the early 1980s and Blunt was officially disgraced — CAL”

    From: http://www.christopherlong.co.uk/pri/countryhouse.html

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