History of the site
In the mid-eighteenth century John Cheere ran a thriving business in Hyde Park Corner mass-producing lead and plaster statues and busts. Cheere produced several copies of a specific subject but in many cases it is only at Queluz that a surviving example of a given subject can be found.
Many of his garden statues were from moulds of famous antique Greek or Roman statues which would have been familiar to his aristocratic clients who had seen the originals on their Grand Tour. Cheere designed the sculptures in the fashionable rococo style; leaping dolphins, monkeys holding castanets, serpents with water jets and dancing putti decorate Robillion’s lavish fountains. The themes of the works also range from classical and mythological figures to allegories of the arts; all according to contemporary taste.
The original Queluz collection was commissioned by the Portuguese ambassador in London – the Marques de Pombal, for the Infante Dom Pedro and shipped to Portugal upon completion. The Portuguese Ambassador to the Court of St James was following the latest fashion when he placed the commission for the Queluz sculptures. The surviving works are the most extensive group in existence.