Bust of George Grote

Courtesy of UCL Art Museum, taken by Varsha Shankar


This bust is housed in the Art museum place in the middle of the room on top of a table. There is a green pedestal in front of it as well, and although both of these objects were obtained by UCL together from the Art Fund, it is undetermined if the pedestal belongs to the bust. The marble bust was created by William Behnes, who was known as one of the best bust sculptors of his time. George Grote was most commonly known as the youngest member on UCL’s original council and had a major role in the creation of UCL. He was also UCL’s treasurer in 1860, consequently the vice-chancellor in 1862, and finally the President in 1868. Grote was known as a famous Greek historian, philosopher, politician, and banker, with his most notable work being the book History of Greece.


There are many different depictions of him around UCL in different forms, many of them preserved and protected to keep him as a prevalent part of UCL’s culture. During his time, he was said to have “radical” views because he wished to protect the rights of people who did not belong to the Church of England in regards to them being able to get an education at UCL. In fact, he had to originally resign from his post on the council because he opposed the decision for appointing a minister of religion to occupy the Philosophy chair at UCL. Grote was an important figure in the history of UCL, especially because he was a person who spoke out against current laws and societal constructs to protect the educational rights of those who were not Christian.



Object name

Bust of George Grote


UCL Art Museum


William Behnes

Year created


Catalogue number







460mm x 280 mm x 140 mm

Back. Courtesy of UCL Art museum, taken by Varsha Shankar

Side. Courtesy of UCL Art museum, taken by Varsha Shankar

Want to know more?



Below are some works that you can look at to read further into William Behnes’ and George Grote’s lives. William Behnes was one of the most talented bust sculptors of his time, even making pieces for the queen, but had a tragic end. There is also information about Grote’s personality from the viewpoint of his wife and peers as well as collections of art he was interested in.


Further Reading


About William Behnes:




The Royal Academy of Art – a complete dictionary of contributions and their work from its foundation in 1769 to 1904. William Behnes chapter. By Algernon Graves, F.S.A.


The Art Journal- Obituary of William Behnes


About George Grote:


A History of Greece by George Grote


The personal life of George Grote by Mrs. Grote


The Minor Works of George Grote: With Critical Remarks on His Intellectual Character, Writings, and Speeches by George Grote


Sculpture Portraits of George Grote at U.C.L by The Slade School of Fine Art