This plaster bust depicts Turner draped in robes in a classicised style; the piece is also arguably idealising in its portrayal of Turner. The bust appears to be a plaster copy of a bust of Turner, made by Timothy Butler in 1837 and paid for by Turner's students at the London University (now University College London). Oxford-born Butler (c.1806-1885) was trained at the Royal Academy Schools and had a successful practice as a portrait sculptor, also undertaking some architectural work, for instance he was responsible for designing lampshades for the Thames Embankment (1870).

Edward Turner (1798 – 1837)

Turner was born in Jamaica but came to Edinburgh as a child. He received his MD from the University of Edinburgh in 1819 and also received his licence and fellowship from the Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh in this year. Following this he left to study at Gottingen for two years and had a particular interest in chemistry and mineralogy.

Upon his return to Edinburgh Turner instituted a course of lectures on chemistry. In 1828 when University College London opened he was appointed to the new Chair of Chemistry, a position which he held until his death. Turner felt that chemistry was too heavily based on hypothesis and that more concrete facts needed to be established, therefore he concerned himself with creating analytical methods through which the atomic weights of the elements could be determined. Of his published work his Introduction to the Study of the Laws of Chemical Combination and the Atomic Theory was highly popular and ran to eight editions.