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Public Statues and Sculpture Association

Andrew Sabin (b. 1958)

Sculptor born in London. He began as a potter, studying under the Malaysian potter Poh Chap Yeap and selling his own work, 1976–78, in London and Europe. Sabin subsequently studied sculpture at Chelsea College of Art, 1979–83, returning to teach, 1997–2006. He made his first installation in 1990 for the Chisenhale Gallery, London. His work in the public realm includes several commissions in which he was lead artist: History Wall, Whitstable, Kent (part of the Horsebridge Development, 2001–03); Square BridgeRound Bridge and Viewing Platform, Ravensbury Park, Merton, London (part of the Wandle Trail art programme, 2002–05); and The Calibrated Ramp, part of the ‘Art changes Bracknell’ programme, for Bracknell, Berkshire (2003–06). Between 2006 and 2010 he was working on The Coldstones Cut at Nidderdale, Yorkshire Dales, which won the PMSA Marsh Award for Excellence in Public Sculpture in 2011. His Painting and Sculpture, 2013, was commissioned to mark the former site of Chelsea College of Art in Manresa Road, Chelsea, now Henry Moore Court. Sabin has exhibited widely, both in solo and group exhibitions. He lives and works with his wife, the sculptor Laura Ford, and their three children.

Sources: Andrew Sabin website; The Coldstones CutWikiwand.

Terry Cavanagh November 2022

Sabin, Andrew

Andrew Sabin, 2016 (photo: © A.K. Purkiss)

James Salisbury (b. 1963)

Sculptor, letterer and teacher. He studied at the City and Guilds of London Art School, Kennington, and, for 20 years, taught lettering on its architectural carving course. Before setting up his own workshop in 1992, he served an apprenticeship with Richard Kindersley and worked as an assistant to Ralph Beyer and Sally Bower. His favoured materials are Cornish Delabole and Cumbrian green slates. He has received commissions both in the UK and in Karachi, Johannesburg and Moscow. Salisbury is listed on the Lettering Arts Trust register.

Sources: information from the artist; The Lettering Arts Trust.

Terry Cavanagh November 2022

Gillie (b. 1965) and Marc (b. 1961) Schattner

Collaborative artists, best known for their anthropomorphic creations, ‘Dogman’ and ‘Rabbitwoman’. Neither had any formal training in painting or sculpture, although Australian-born Marc Schattner studied graphic design at Swinburne University of Technology, Melbourne. The couple met in Hong Kong in 1990 and married the same year. They moved to Sydney in 1999 and by 2006 had decided to work collaboratively, henceforth signing their works ‘Gillie and Marc’. Their first collaborative work, a painting, He’ll never be famous but he doesn’t give a damn, he’s a musician, featuring the first of their man-dog hybrids, won first prize in the 2009 Chianciano Biennale in Tuscany; Bondi Coffee Dog, a sculpture in fibreglass was included in the same year’s Florence Biennale. Dedicated conservationists, in 2016, the Schattners submitted a sculpture, Buried Rhino, to the ‘Sculpture by the Sea’ exhibition on Bondi Beach; intended to raise awareness of the species’ impending extinction, it won them the Allen’s People’s Choice and Kid’s Choice awards. This was followed in 2018 with the installation in Astor Place, New York, of what the couple trumpeted as the ‘world’s largest rhino sculpture’, The Last Three. Featuring life-size sculptures of three Northern White Rhinoceroses balanced acrobatically one on top of the other, it was, like Buried Rhino, a popular success. Inevitably, the art world viewed such productions differently, New York magazine’s senior art critic Jerry Saltz, for example, writing off The Last Three as ‘a kitschy monstrosity’. Sculptures by the Schattners in the UK include Rabbitwoman and Dogman Drinking Coffee, 2017, Bishop’s Square, and Tandem Lovers, 2020, Reuters Plaza, Canary Wharf, both Tower Hamlets; and The Friendship Bench, 2020, Halkin Arcade, Westminster.

Sources: ‘Gillie and Marc Schattner’, Art NomadGillie and Marc (sculptors’ website); Small, Z., ‘How Paparazzi Dogs and Rabbitgirl Conquered New York City Streets’, New York Times, 3 January 2019; ‘Gillie and Marc’, Wikipedia.

Terry Cavanagh November 2022

Schattner, Gillie and Marc

Gillie and Marc Schattner with their dog, Idie, 2017 (photo: Gillieandmarcart, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons)

Frederick Emil Eberhard Schenck (1849–1908)

Sculptor and teacher, the son of E. E. Friedrich T. Schenck, a distinguished German artist and lithographer who settled in Edinburgh in 1840. He worked for two years in the lithographic partnership Schenck & Son, but with the encouragement of his father and the sculptor George Clark Stanton enrolled at the Edinburgh School of Arts, where he won a bronze medal in the National Art Competition in 1872. He went on to study at the National Art Training School, South Kensington (now the Royal College of Art), returning to Edinburgh in 1875 to study at the life class of the Royal Scottish Academy, after which he was appointed master of modelling at Hanley School of Art, Stoke-on-Trent. Much of his early design and modelling work was for George Jones’ Crescent Pottery, Stoke-on-Trent, but when the demand for this declined in the 1880s, he moved to London and began to specialise in architectural sculpture, working closely with the architect Henry Hare. Major schemes with Hare include interior figures and reliefs for the County Buildings, Stafford (c.1895), and Oxford Town Hall (1897), as well as exterior work for the Municipal Buildings and Public Baths, Shoreditch (1899), and the Carnegie Central Libraries at Hammersmith (1904–05) and Islington (1905). He also worked with the architect Arthur Beresford Pite at 37 Harley Street, London, but his finest work is thought to have been on Hare’s now demolished United Provident Institution on the Strand (1906). He died in London of influenza.

Bibliography: W.T. Johnston, Dictionary of Scottish Artists (c.2000), Scottish National Library, ref CD-ROM.585; R. McKenzie, Public Sculpture of Edinburgh (2 vols), Liverpool, 2018, vol. 1, pp. 318–19; G.T. Noszlopy and F. Waterhouse, Public Sculpture of Staffordshire and the Black Country, Liverpool, 2005, pp. 128, 284; notes written by Schenk’s grandson, David H. J. Schenck, posted on the website of Bob Speel.

Ray McKenzie 2018

Sir George Gilbert Scott (1811–1878)

Architect and writer. Born at Gawcott (Bucks), son of a curate of evangelical tendencies. After training as an architect with James Edmeston, he set up in a practice, formalised in 1838, with W.B. Moffat, which specialised in workhouses. After somewhat hesitant and unscholarly beginnings in ecclesiastical architecture, Scott became enthused by the spirit of the Cambridge Camdenian Society, which he joined in 1842. Scott’s mature ecclesiastical gothic, as embodied in such churches as St George’s, Doncaster (1853–58) and All Souls, Halifax (1856–59), is on the whole orthodox English, and his wide experience restoring English cathedrals reinforced his respect for the national tradition. He did, however, accommodate plate glass and cast iron in his buildings, and after protracted wrangles with the government over the design of the new Foreign Office (built 1863–74), Scott even relinquished gothic in favour of Italianate classicism. The secular gothic which he had originally intended to use for the Foreign Office, was used for the Midland Grand Hotel at St Pancras Station, designed 1865–66. In his Memorial to Prince Albert for Hyde Park (1862–72) whilst recreating the general effect of a mediaeval shrine, Scott accommodated a degree of historical eclecticism, using an impressive array of sculptural talents, as well as the craft skills of the metalworker Francis Skidmore and the mosaicist Salviati. Scott was president of the Royal Institute of British Architects from 1873 to 1876.

Source: Stamp, G., ‘Scott, Sir George Gilbert (1811–1878)’, ODNB, 2004.

Philip Ward-Jackson 2011

George William (Bill) Scott (1935–2012)

Sculptor. Born in Moniaive, Dumfriesshire, he studied under Ann Henderson at Edinburgh College of Art from 1953 to 1959, and went on to spend a year at the École des Beaux Arts, Paris. His early work was mostly in metal, with constructivist pieces such as Rig and Platform (1978–85) paying tribute to the engineering achievements of the North Sea oil industry, while his later work in wood placed a greater emphasis on craft skill and showed a preoccupation with the forms of ‘primitive’ sculpture. He exhibited extensively in Britain, Scandinavia and Japan, and carried out a number of public commissions, including The Spirit of Drama in the Byre Theatre, St Andrews (1969), The Symbols of St Kentigern on the MoD building in Glasgow (1986), Fossil Tree, Gyle Centre, Edinburgh (1994), and the Memorial to Elizabeth Crichton in Crichton university campus, Dumfries (2000). He joined the teaching staff of Edinburgh College of Art in 1961, and was Head of the School of Sculpture, from 1989 to 1997; from 1994 he was also a professor in the Faculty of Art and Design at Heriot-Watt University, Edinburgh. He was active in the affairs of the Royal Scottish Academy, and in 2007 became the first sculptor in the history of the organisation to be elected its president. At the time of his death he was also chairman of the Edinburgh Sculpture Workshop, which was renamed the Bill Scott Sculpture Centre in his honour when it opened its new premises at Hawthornvale in 2012.

Sources: Johnston, W.T., Dictionary of Scottish Artists (c.2000), Scottish National Library, ref CD-ROM.585; Patrizio, A., Contemporary Sculpture in Scotland, Sydney, Australia, 1999, pp. 122–27; Scotsman, 5 April 2012 (obit.).

Ray McKenzie 2018

Sculpture Castings Ltd (incorporated 2009)

Fine art foundry based in Basingstoke, Hampshire. Public sculptures include Mark Jackson, Memorial to the Irish Guards, 2011, Windsor; Charlie Langton, Yeats (racehorse), 2011, Ascot Racecourse; Mark Bibby, Memorial to the Sikh Soldiers of the Great War, 2015, National Memorial Arboretum, Staffordshire; and David Williams-Ellis, sculpture for The Normandy Memorial, 2019, Ver-sur-Mer, north-western France.

Sources: Sculpture Castings website; ‘Find and update company information’, GOV.UK.

Terry Cavanagh November 2022

(John Hugh) Gilbert Seale (1862–1933)

The most prominent member of a family of sculptors, stonemasons, modellers and plasterers. His grandfather, John Seale, a mason and builder of Bradford, Wiltshire, had two sons, John Wesley Seale (1825–1885), who by 1857 had relocated the family’s architectural sculpture business to south London, and John Whitfield Seale (c.1835–1900), who by 1871 had similarly moved to south London but seems to have worked outside the family firm. Gilbert presumably trained with his father and by 1887 the firm was listed as ‘Gilbert Seale (late J.W. Seale & Son)’. One of Gilbert’s own sons, John Hector Seale (1884–1949), later joined the firm which, from 1910 operated as Gilbert Seale & Son. For at least twenty-five years Seale’s firm enjoyed a continuous succession of important contracts from some of the leading architects of the day. E.W. Mountford engaged him to work on Battersea Polytechnic Institute, 1890–93 (interior decorative plasterwork); Battersea Town Hall, 1892–92 (exterior decorative carving); St Olave’s Grammar School, Bermondsey, 1893–96 (interior plasterwork); and Central Criminal Court, Old Bailey, 1900–07 (plasterwork and sundry carving). A section of Seale’s plaster ceiling panels for R.W. Edis’s rebuilding of Cheveley Park, Cambs, 1896–98 (demolished 1925) was illustrated in The Builder, 30 May 1896, p. 468. By 1900, a rare privilege for an architectural sculptor, Seale was allowed to sign below his work, usually to the right of the architect’s name on the building’s frontage. Examples include the cupids seated on the entrance arches of H. Huntley Gordon’s St Bartholomew House, Fleet Street, 1900, and Reginald Morphew’s Marlborough Chambers, 70–72 Jermyn Street, 1903; one of the pair of carved escutcheons on W.E. Riley’s screen wall, Buckingham Palace Road, 1905, for Victoria Railway Station; and the merfolk framing the corner window of J.S. Gibson, Skipwith & Gordon’s No 41 Kingsway, London, 1910 (this last signed ‘Gilbert Seale & Son’). In 1925, the firm published a book showcasing its work entitled Architectural Decoration. Gilbert Seale seems to have retired by this date as the names beneath the company name are J. Hector Seale and his younger brother, (Arthur) Barney Seale (1896–1957) who would go on to establish himself as an independent sculptor and painter. The firm continued to trade as G. Seale & Son and was finally dissolved in 1949.

Sources: Builder: (i) 30 May 1896, pp. 468, 469; (ii) 4 March 1899, p. 230; Cavanagh, T., Public Sculpture of South London, Liverpool, 2007; Gray, A.S., Edwardian Architecture, London, 1985, p. 324; Lloyd, F., et al, Public Sculpture of Outer South and West London, Liverpool, 2011; Mapping SculptureSeale, John WesleySeale, George WhitfieldSeale,(John Hugh) GilbertSeale, John HectorSeale, (Arthur) Barney; Merritt, D., et al, Public Sculpture of Bristol, Liverpool, 2011; Seale (Gilbert) & Son, Architectural Decoration [London, 1925] (RIBA Library); Ward-Jackson, P., Public Sculpture of the City of London, Liverpool, 2003.

Terry Cavanagh November 2022

John Dando Sedding (1838–1891)

Architect and designer whose style is characterised by Gothic Revival forms with Arts and Crafts detail. He was born at Eton, Berkshire. In 1858, he joined his elder brother, Edmund (1836–1868), in the office of G.E. Street, alongside William Morris, Philip Webb and Richard Norman Shaw. After leaving Street’s practice, Sedding began designing for embroidery, wallpaper and metalwork. In 1865, he joined his brother’s practice in Penzance but in 1868, following his brother’s death, relocated to Bristol. Sedding’s most important work from these years was St Martin’s Church, Low Marple, Cheshire (1869–70), which incorporated stained glass by the Morris, Marshall, Faulkner & Co designers Dante Gabriel Rossetti, Ford Madox Brown, Edward Burne-Jones and William Holman Hunt. Sedding’s first major commission was St Clement’s Church, Boscombe, Bournemouth (1871–73). Here, Sedding also designed many of the principal furnishings, bringing in F.W. Pomeroy to execute the Crucifixion in the window over the west door. In 1874, Sedding relocated to London and in the same year was elected FRIBA. He joined the committee of the Art Workers’ Guild at its founding in 1884 and, 1886–87, was its second Master. His pupils included the metalworker and jeweller John Paul Cooper, the furniture designers Ernest Barnsley and Ernest Gimson, and the ceramicist Alfred Powell. His chief assistant, who completed many of his projects, was Henry Wilson (1864–1934). A devout Anglican, Sedding was, from 1878, a sidesman and later churchwarden at St Alban the Martyr, Holborn. The church formerly contained a memorial (lost when the building was severely damaged during a bombing raid in the Second World War) to Sedding and his wife (who had died, possibly from grief, a few days after her husband). A memorial to the architect alone – commissioned by the Art Workers’ Guild and designed and executed by Pomeroy – is in Holy Trinity, Sloane Street, Chelsea, Sedding’s final work.

Sources: Oxford Art Online – Grove Art Online; Seccombe, T., ‘Sedding, John Dando (1838–1891)’, rev. D. Findlay, ODNB, Oxford, 2004.

Terry Cavanagh September 2023

Sedding, John Dando

John Dando Sedding, 1882, postcard, Hayman Seleg Mendelssohn (photo: public domain)

John Pollard Seddon (1827–1906)

Architect and designer born in London. His father, Thomas Seddon, was a cabinet maker and his elder brother, also Thomas, a landscape painter. It was through his brother that John Seddon first met Ford Madox Brown and Dante Gabriel Rossetti. Following Rossetti’s death in 1882, Seddon designed his memorial drinking fountain in Chelsea Embankment Gardens in front of his friend’s former home, 16 Cheyne Walk, while Madox Brown modelled the portrait bust which formed its centre-piece. Seddon had been articled to the neo-classical architect, T.L. Donaldson, but his formative influence was reading Ruskin’s Seven Lamps of Architecture. Seddon’s conviction thereafter was that Gothic was the only true Christian art, ‘most scientific and beautiful, and most in accordance with common sense’. Although principally an ecclesiastical architect, he was responsible for some significant secular designs, for example, University College, Aberystwyth (1864–86). One of Seddon’s most important ecclesiastical restoration projects (in partnership with John Prichard) was for Llandaff Cathedral, for which he persuaded the diocese to commission a triptych from Rossetti (1855–64). Of his independent designs, the most notable is perhaps the church of St Catherine, Hoarwithy, Herefordshire (begun mid-1870s), described in the ‘Buildings of England’ as ‘the most impressive Victorian church in the county’. Seddon also designed stained glass and furniture. In 1861, he designed an architect’s desk (King René’s Honeymoon Cabinet), which he got his father’s company, Seddon & Sons, to make, and Morris, Marshall, Faulkner & Co’s artists to paint – Madox Brown, Rossetti, Edward Burne-Jones and Val Prinsep painting the figurative subjects for its ten panels, William Morris their decorative backgrounds. It was shown at the 1862 International Exhibition, South Kensington, and is now in the V&A Museum (no. W.10:1 to 28-1927).

Sources: Blackshaw, T.R., ‘Seddon, John Pollard (1827–1906)’, ODNB, Oxford, 2004; Brooks, A., and N. Pevsner, Herefordshire (The Buildings of England), New Haven and London, 2012, p. 363.

Terry Cavanagh November 2022

Lincoln Seligman (b. 1950)

Sculptor and painter educated at Balliol College, Oxford; RBS member. Best known for site-specific, large-scale sculptures, frequently in the form of suspended mobiles, usually in main entrances or atrium spaces of modern buildings in Europe, USA and Asia. He works in steel, bronze, aluminium, fabric and glass.

Source: Lincoln Seligman website.

Terry Cavanagh November 2022

Reuben Sheppard (1874–1946)

Born in Dublin, he was a son of Simpson Sheppard, a monumental stone carver, and a younger brother of the sculptor Oliver Sheppard. Reuben Sheppard studied at the Dublin Metropolitan School of Art, 1889–94. In 1895, he exhibited a model of a candelabrum in the first exhibition of the Arts and Crafts Society of Ireland. In the same year, he submitted a design for a drinking fountain in the national competition run by the Department of Science and Art, South Kensington, and was awarded a silver medal, earning him a place at the National Art Training School (later RCA) where he studied, 1895–97, under Edouard Lantéri. His training under Lantéri led to his only public sculpture commission, the high-relief figures of William Hogarth and Joshua Reynolds on Aston Webb’s V&A Museum façade. Sheppard worked as an assistant to Thomas Brock and in 1906 Brock successfully nominated Sheppard for membership of the RBS. Sheppard showed 10 sculptures at the RA between 1906 and 1914, but in this latter year, for reasons that are unclear, his career as a sculptor came to an end. For a while he earned his living as a salesman, but in 1921 lost his job and was reduced to living in a hostel at King’s Cross, subsisting on financial assistance from his brothers, Oliver and John (a physician). He eventually found employment with the bankers, N.M. Rothschild and Sons, remaining with them until his retirement on a pension in 1944.

Sources: Carpenter, A., and P. Murphy (eds), Art and Architecture of Ireland, Vol III: Sculpture 1600–2000, Dublin, 2015, pp. 316–17; Mapping SculptureRoyal Academy Summer Exhibition: A Chronicle, 1769–2018.

Terry Cavanagh November 2022

William Shirreffs (1846–1902)

Born in Huntly, Aberdeenshire, a relative of the bronze-founder Charles G. Shirreffs, he moved to Glasgow in 1870 to study sculpture under William Mossman Junior at Glasgow School of Art. Though based in Glasgow (he had a cire-perdue foundry in his studio at 261 West George Street), he often worked in Edinburgh, casting the reliefs on John Rhind’s Monument to Sir William Chambers and carving the figures of Gurth and Diana Vernon for the Scott Monument. He also briefly assisted James Pittendrigh Macgillivray on the Gladstone Monument, also Edinburgh. His own public statues include the Monument to William Barbour, at the Royal Alexandra Infirmary, Paisley (c.1899). He exhibited regularly at the Royal Glasgow Institute of the Fine Arts, but never, it would appear, at the Royal Scottish Academy.

Source: McKenzie, R., Public Sculpture of Glasgow, Liverpool, 2002, p. 498.

Ray McKenzie 2018

Robert William Sievier (1794–1865)

Sculptor and engraver. He was born in London and developed early on a talent for draughtsmanship, the silver medal he won in 1812 from the Society of Arts encouraging him to train as an engraver, firstly under John Young and then Edward Scriven. In 1818 he entered the RA Schools and produced a large number of stipple engravings after a wide variety of artists ranging from Hans Holbein to William Etty. It was simply a desire to improve his knowledge of anatomy that led him to study under Joshua Brookes, the anatomical lecturer, and to learn to model in clay, but this resulted in his giving up engraving in about 1823 and turning to sculpture full time. His talent for seizing a likeness earned him a great many commissions for portraits. His busts include the Lord Chancellor, 1st Earl Eldon (1824); Sir Thomas Lawrence (1830, Soane Museum, London); Albert, Prince Consort (1842, Royal Collection); and Frederick William IV, King of Prussia (untraced). Memorial statues include Edward Jenner (1825, Gloucester Cathedral) and 3rd Earl Harcourt (1832, St Michael, Stanton Harcourt, Oxfordshire). Among his few ideal subjects is Musidora 1830, now National Museum of Wales, Cardiff. Sievier exhibited at the RA 1822–44, at the British Institution 1825–31, and at the Society of British Artists 1829–43. He became a director of the General Cemetery Company, Kensal Green Cemetery, in 1832, designing not only his own family monument (1830s), but also one to the quack doctor, John St John Long (d. 1834). In 1841 he was elected a fellow of the Royal Society and by 1845 had given up sculpture to pursue his lifelong interest in scientific matters and to manage a rubber works in Holloway, north London.

Sources: Greenwood, M., ‘Sievier, Robert William (1794–1865)’, ODNB, Oxford, 2004; Roscoe, I., et al, A Biographical Dictionary of Sculptors in Britain 1660–1851, New Haven and London, 2009.

Terry Cavanagh November 2022

José Simões de Almeida (1880–1950)

Portuguese sculptor whose suffix ‘Sobrinho’ (i.e. ‘nephew’) is applied to distinguish him from his namesake uncle (1844–1926), also a sculptor. Simões de Almeida attended the Lisbon School of Fine Arts from 1893 on the general design course and then, from 1897, the statuary sculpture course, where he was taught by his uncle. In 1904, he was awarded a scholarship to study in Paris for three years; here, he studied with Raoul Verlét and Jean-Paul Laurens. In 1915, he was appointed professor of sculptor at the Lisbon School of Fine Arts in succession to his uncle. One of his earliest commissions was the statue of Bento de Góis, for the island of São Miguel (inaugurated 1906; removed 1963). Important works include the Bust of the Republic (marble, 1908), Museu da Presidência da República, Lisbon; the pedimental relief for the São Bento Palace, Lisbon; and the memorial to the dead of the Great War, 1924, Cascais. A bronze statue of Prince Henry the Navigator by Simões de Almeida was unveiled in 2002 in Belgrave Square, London.

Sources: José Simões de Almeida (Sobrinho); ‘Biografia de José Simões de Almeida (Sobrinho)’, Museo Centro ArtsWikipedia.

Terry Cavanagh November 2022

Simões de Almeida, José

José Simões de Almeida (sobrinho) (photo: Biblioteca Municipal de Figueiró dos Vinhos from Portugal, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons)

J.W. Singer

Foundry established by John Webb Singer (1819–1904) of Frome, Somerset. Singer began as a watchmaker and jeweller, setting up Frome Art Metalworks in 1848, specialising in church furnishings, and soon gaining a national reputation. In 1888, with encouragement from three of the leading British sculptors of the day, William Hamo Thornycroft, Edward Onslow Ford and Alfred Drury, Singer extended his premises on the outskirts of Frome to incorporate a statue foundry, providing facilities not only for traditional sand casting, but also the recently re-introduced lost wax process. Unsurprisingly, each of the above sculptors soon provided Singer with valuable commissions, Thornycroft in c.1889 with a copy of his London Statue of General Gordon, for Melbourne, Australia; Onslow Ford with his General Gordon on a Camel, 1889, for Chatham, Kent, and Drury with his Statue of Joseph Priestly, 1899, for Leeds. Such high quality results ensured that the foundry quickly became one of the leading fine art bronze foundries in Britain. In 1899, Singer and Sons was made into a private limited liability company and J.W. Singer passed control to his sons, Walter Herbert and Edgar Ratcliffe Singer. The foundry continued to flourish into the 1920s when increased competition and its own relatively remote location forced it into an amalgamation with the Lambeth-based Morris Art Bronze Foundry, creating the new firm Morris Singer.

Sources: Beattie, S., The New Sculpture, New Haven and London, 1983; James, D. S, A Century of Statues. The history of the Morris Singer Foundry, Basingstoke, Hants, 1984; NPG British Bronze Sculpture Founders.

Terry Cavanagh November 2022

Singer (J.W.)

John Webb Singer (photo: CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons)

John Skeaping (1901–1980)

Born in Woodford, Essex, he studied at Goldsmiths’ College and at the Central School, before attending the Royal Academy Schools. He had already travelled in Italy when he won the Academy’s Rome Scholarship, which enabled him to return there. In Italy he met and married Barbara Hepworth, who encouraged him to renounce traditional working methods and classical subject matter, to concentrate on direct carving and non-literary content. His first major exhibition with Hepworth was at Alex Reid and Lefèvre Gallery in Glasgow in 1928. After he and Hepworth divorced in 1932, Skeaping turned his attention increasingly towards naturalistic animal art, for which he had always had a penchant. The year 1936 saw the publication of his popular manual Animal Drawing, and this was followed by other manuals. Now remarried to Morwenna Ward, Skeaping began to travel in southern France and Spain. After the Second World War, in which he served as an Official War Artist, he spent time in Mexico, studying indigenous artistic traditions. Architectural carving in the City of London from the 1950s, such as the zodiacal reliefs on the Sun Life Building in Cheapside, show a continued interest in direct carving. Between 1953 and 1959, Skeaping was Professor of Sculpture at the Royal College of Art.

Source: Skeaping, J., Drawn from Life. An Autobiography, London, 1977.

Philip Ward-Jackson 2003

Skeaping, John

John Rattenbury Skeaping by Howard Coster, 1943, half-plate film negative (photo: © National Portrait Gallery, London)

Francis Alfred Skidmore (1817–1896)

Art metalworker in the Gothic Revival style, born in Birmingham, the son of a silversmith. In 1822, the family moved to Coventry. Skidmore served a seven-year apprenticeship with his father, learning metalworking and jewel setting. He became a partner in Francis Skidmore and son, and in 1851 showed some church plate at the Great Exhibition (one example, a silver gilt and enamelled chalice, is now at the V&A, mus. no. 1329-1852). In 1852, Skidmore’s expertise was acknowledged by his election to the Oxford Architectural Society. At about the same date, he began a long and close working relationship with George Gilbert Scott, manufacturing, for example, choir screens to the architect’s designs in Lichfield, Worcester, Salisbury and Hereford cathedrals. The first two remain in situ; the chancel gates and surmounting cross of the Salisbury Screen and the whole of the Hereford Screen are now in the V&A (mus. nos. M.4-1979, M.5-2015, and M.251:1-1984 respectively). The Hereford Screen, shown at the 1862 International Exhibition, was awarded a prize for ‘progress, elegance of design, and for excellent workmanship’ (Morning Post, 12 July 1862, p. 7); the Illustrated London News (30 August 1862, pp. 244–46) heralded it as ‘the most noble work of modern times … a monument of the surpassing skill of our land and our age’ and devoted two pages to its illustration. Naturally, it was to Skidmore that Scott turned for most of the metalwork on the Albert Memorial (completed 1872). Despite his high reputation, he outlived the fashion for the Gothic Revival style and died in much reduced circumstances. He was survived by his wife, Emma, and their four children. With the restoration in the 1990s of the Albert Memorial and the installation of the restored Hereford Screen in the V&A, Skidmore’s reputation revived. In 2000, a memorial plaque was unveiled marking the site of his factory at Alma Street, Hillfields, Coventry.

Sources: Mapping Sculpture; Whyte, W., ‘Skidmore, Francis Alfred (1817–1896)’, ODNB, Oxford, 2013; Wikipedia.

Terry Cavanagh November 2022

Skidmore, Francis Alfred

Francis Alfred Skidmore, 1896 (photo: CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons)

Peter Slater (1809–1870)

Born in Edinburgh, the son of a marble and stone cutter with premises on Picardy Place, he worked as an assistant to Samuel Joseph, accompanying him when he relocated to London in 1828, and remaining with him for another four years. In 1831 he was admitted to the Royal Academy Schools on the recommendation of the painter William Collins (not, as is often erroneously stated, the writer Wilkie Collins, who was seven years old at the time). He returned to Edinburgh in 1833, occupying successive studios at Union Street, George Street, Elder Street, and Broughton Street, before moving back to London where he died on 27 December 1870. He exhibited subject pieces, including a work entitled Canute Reproving his Flatterers (1844), which famously prompted the dismissive retort from the Literary Gazette that ‘we must decline being one’. His public statues include two figures – Ellen Douglas (1844–45) and George Heriot (1854) – for George Meikle Kemp’s Monument to Sir Walter Scott, Princes Street Gardens, Edinburgh; Revd Dr Andrew Bell (c.1848) on the façade of the former Dr Bell’s School, Leith; and James Watt (after Francis Chantrey) (1852–54), Heriot-Watt University, Riccarton, Edinburgh. The bulk of his surviving work, however, is in portrait busts, including those of Professor James Pillans (marble; University of Edinburgh, 1852) and Lord Jeffrey (marble; Faculty of Procurators, Glasgow, 1853), and John Napier of Merchiston (plaster; collection of the Royal Society of Edinburgh; copied from a marble original exhibited at the Royal Scottish Academy in 1842). He was also almost certainly responsible for the monument to Napier in the entrance porch of St Cuthbert’s Parish Church, Lothian Road, Edinburgh.

Sources: Johnston, W.T., Dictionary of Scottish Artists (c.2000), Scottish National Library, ref CD-ROM.585; Roscoe, I., et al, A Biographical Dictionary of Sculptors in Britain 1660–1851, New Haven and London, 2009; Scotsman, 29 November 1870, p. 8f.

Ray McKenzie 2018

Sydney Smirke (1797–1877)

Architect born in London, the fifth son of the painter Robert Smirke RA (1753–1845) and the younger brother of England’s leading Greek Revival architect Sir Robert Smirke RA (1780–1867), whose pupil he initially was. Sydney Smirke entered the RA Schools in 1817, winning the Silver Medal in 1817 and the Gold Medal in 1819. In the following year, he visited Sicily and mainland Italy, sketching and measuring classical architecture. In 1828, he was appointed Clerk of the King’s Works at St James’s Palace. He succeeded to many of his brother’s positions: in 1841, to the surveyorship of the Inner Temple, and in 1846, on his brother’s retirement, to the surveyorships of the Duchy of Lancaster, the British Museum and the General Post Office. His first major commission was the reconstruction of the Pantheon, Oxford Street (1833–34; demolished), and his most celebrated design the round reading room of the British Museum (1854–57), inspired by the Pantheon in Rome. He was elected ARA in 1847 and RA in 1859, was the RA Schools professor of architecture, 1860–65, and RA treasurer 1861–1874 (his last major commission was for a range of exhibition galleries for Burlington House, 1866–70). He was a fellow of the Royal Society, the Society of Antiquaries, and the RIBA and, in 1852, founded the Architects’ Benevolent Society (serving as president until his death).

Sources: Reidy, D.V., ‘Smirke, Sydney (1798–1877)’, ODNB, Oxford, 2004; Royal Academy of Arts website; The Times, 12 December 1877, p. 11 (obit.).

Terry Cavanagh November 2022

Smirke, Sydney

Sydney Smirke, 1860s carte-de-visite by John and Charles Watkins (photo: John & Charles Watkins, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons)

Andrew Smith (b. 1962)

Sculptor and designer, born in south Wales. He studied at West Surrey College of Art and Design, where he graduated with honours in three-dimensional design specialising in metals, and the RCA, where he gained a master’s degree in the metalwork department. In the mid-1980s, after attending research courses in Germany, France and Iran, Smith began designing street furniture and exhibiting both in Britain and abroad. In the late 1990s, he was commissioned to design a Sculptural Canopy to go atop the NGC Cable Joint Building, Canal Way, Kensington. Part of an urban improvement scheme, the building beneath it very quickly succumbed again to the graffiti which had so blighted the area before its refurbishment. Smith’s brightly coloured 15-metre-high, Lollipop Be-Bop, inaugurated 2001, in front of the Bristol Royal Hospital for Children, fared rather better, although its interior lighting, originally controlled by a console that the children could use on the hospital’s third floor, was not maintained and is now inoperative. Nevertheless, the sculptor believes that it still manages to convey the ‘sense of friendliness and welcome’ that he intended.

Sources: Art and the Public Realm Bristol; Buckman, D., Artists in Britain since 1945 (2 vols: A–L, M–Z), Bristol, 2006; Merritt, D., et al, Public Sculpture of Bristol, Liverpool, 2011.

Terry Cavanagh November 2022

Anthony Smith (b. 1984)

Sculptor born in Glasgow, now based in Amsterdam. He first attended Winchester College, before going on to Christ’s College, Cambridge, to study zoology, specialising in animal behaviour and evolution. Having learnt to sculpt at school, he further developed his skills as a sculptor in his spare time from his university studies, casting and exhibiting limited edition bronze sculptures. After graduating in 2005, he set up his own studio in Cambridge and began sculpting full-time. In 2009–10, he took part in an eight-month circumnavigation voyage aboard a three-masted clipper, working as ship’s artist and photographer for a Dutch-Flemish television documentary series, Beagle: In het kielzog van Darwin (‘Beagle: In Darwin’s wake’), retracing the route described by Darwin in his Voyage of the Beagle (published 1839). In 2012, Smith was awarded a Shackleton Scholarship to visit the Falkland Islands as artist-in-residence; and this was followed, in 2013, by two months on South George, again as artist-in-residence, this time at the invitation of the South Georgia Heritage Trust. Smith is now based in Amsterdam. His first major commission was for a portrait bust of Carl Linnaeus for the Linnean Society of London (2007). His statue of the young Charles Darwin was unveiled by the Duke of Edinburgh at Christ’s College, Cambridge, in 2009 (shortlisted for the PMSA Marsh Award for Excellence in Public Sculpture) and his statue of Alfred Russel Wallace was unveiled by Sir David Attenborough in the Natural History Museum in 2013. Smith is an ARBS and a fellow of the Linnean Society.

Sources: Anthony Smith website; ‘Anthony Smith (sculptor)’, Wikipedia; ‘Beagle: In Darwin’s Wake’, Wikipedia; ‘Sculptor in Residence’, South Georgia Newsletter, September 2013.

Terry Cavanagh November 2022

Smith, Anthony

Anthony Smith with his Elephant’s Trunk, bronze, December 2020 (photo: Fortheloveofknowledge, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons)

Joe Smith (b. 1950)

A sculptor in slate, born in West Yorkshire, he learnt how to build drystone walls at the age of 11. From the age of 19, he began earning his living building functional drystone walls, but after noticing the increasing use of drystone walling as an art form, he decided to investigate its possibilities. Artists, he says, began to recognise ‘drystone walling as more than a means of keeping sheep out of the turnips – that it was beautiful. The art world started taking an interest in drystone walling, so I started taking an interest in art. It was a logical development in the skill.’ Since the mid-1990s he has turned his skill towards the creation of drystone sculptures, principally for gardens. Beginning with slate vases, he has expanded to include cones, spheres, obelisks, wine glasses, pears and chessmen. He collaborated with Andy Goldsworthy, 1989–93, in the UK, France, USA and Australia, a significant example of their work being Slate Hole Wall, 1990, in the Royal Botanic Gardens, Edinburgh. Smith’s independent work includes Thrust and Tilted Globe, both 2001, Elphin, Highland, Scotland; Globe, 2004, in the grounds of Academy Gardens, Duchess of Bedford’s Walk, Kensington; and a trio of vases in Prince Charles’s garden at Highgrove. Recently he formed a business partnership with his daughter, Jenny, who, following a three-year apprenticeship, became a fully competent practitioner.

Sources: Joe Smith website; McKenzie, R., Public Sculpture of Edinburgh, Volume 2, Liverpool, 2018, p. 520; ‘Joe Smith’, On Form Sculpture; Sommerville, C., ‘Slate sculptures a solid foundation for garden’, 17 November 2013, The Scotsman.

Terry Cavanagh November 2022

Marion Smith (b. 1969)

Sculptor working in a wide range of materials, including bronze, ciment fondu, granite and cardboard. Born in Largo, Fife, she studied at Gray’s School of Art, Aberdeen, and at the Hoogeschool voor de Kunsten in Arnhem, Netherlands. She has worked as an artist/technician at the Scottish Sculpture Workshop, Aberdeen, a visiting lecturer at Glasgow School of Art, and gallery manager at the Crawford Arts Centre, St Andrews. She has held solo exhibitions throughout Scotland, including Long View at the Park Gallery, Falkirk (2009), which was based on the geological theories of James Hutton, and has carried out public commissions in Dundee (Panmure Passage, 2009), Anstruther (The Plough and the Reaper, 2009), Clydebank (Lancastria Memorial, 2011) and Irvine (Milestones, 2016). She has exhibited regularly at the Royal Scottish Academy since 1993, was elected ARSA in 1998, and since 2012 has been the Academy’s Secretary.

Sources: CV provided by the artist; Marion Smith. Sculptor (artist’s website); Shuker, C., ‘Artist Profile: Marion Smith’, Discover RSA, no. 82, summer 2009, p. 4.

Ray McKenzie 2018

Merylin Smith (b. 1942)

Artist in various media and teacher. Born in Arbroath, she trained at Edinburgh College of Art, gaining a postgraduate scholarship in 1965. After a period of teaching in Nigeria, she returned to Edinburgh and set up the Ceramic Workshop, which she ran as a resource for artists, potters and students from 1970 to 1974, later becoming head of ceramics and then professor of fine art at John Moores University, Liverpool. Her work has been exhibited throughout the UK, and in Italy and Eastern Europe.

Source: Hughson Gallery: Merylin Smith.

Ray McKenzie 2018

Simon Smith

Sculptor and stone carver based in London. His work includes both the restoration of existing works and the design of original sculptures; his range includes statues, architectural decoration and memorial headstones. After serving an apprenticeship as a stonemason at Woburn Abbey, he went on to study stone carving and sculpture at the City & Guilds of London Art School. In 2006, he was elected a member of both the RBS and the Master Carvers Association. His public sculptures include Portland stone replicas of Michael Rysbrack’s marble statue of Hans Sloane, in Duke of York Square, King’s Road, Chelsea (2007; commissioned by the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea), and Chelsea Physic Garden (2014; commissioned by Lord Cadogan); stone gargoyles and decorative foliage for Westminster Abbey’s chapter house (2010; commissioned by Nimbus Conservation Ltd); a statue of Kitty Wilkinson for St George’s Hall, Liverpool (Carrara marble, 2012; commissioned by Liverpool City Council – the first statue of a woman to be placed in one of the niches of the great hall); a war memorial, A Promise Honoured, Castle Yard, Winchester (Portland stone, 2014; commissioned by the ‘To Honour a Promise Project Group’ in remembrance of the American soldiers billeted around Winchester during the First World War – shortlisted for the PMSA Marsh Award for Excellence in Public Sculpture); and Bacchante, Sissinghurst Castle Garden (Carrara marble, 2016; commissioned by the National Trust).

Sources: Simon Smith website; ‘Kitty Wilkinson Statue Unveiled’, 19 September 2012, Liverpool Express.

Terry Cavanagh November 2022

Michael Alan Snowden (b. 1930)

Sculptor of figures and portraits in bronze. Born in Lincolnshire, he trained as an art teacher in York before studying sculpture under Karel Vogel at Camberwell School of Art, London. He taught there until 1962 and joined the staff of Edinburgh College of Art in 1964. He began exhibiting at the Royal Scottish Academy in 1966, and held his first solo show in London in 1971. Public commissions include sculpture in Southwark Cathedral and Livingston New Town, West Lothian, a colossal Mother and Child group for Cumbernauld, North Lanarkshire, a Baptized Christ for Craiglockhart College, Edinburgh (1968), and three bronze busts in the Twelve Poets scheme (2002–04) at Lochside Crescent, Edinburgh: Douglas Dunn, Jackie Kay and Iain Crichton Smith. Snowden was elected ARSA in 1974, and RSA in 1985.

Source: McEwan, P.J.M., The Dictionary of Scottish Art and Architecture, Ballater, Aberdeenshire, 2004.

Ray McKenzie 2018

Arthur Standring & Co

Art metal workers based at 183 Princess Street, Manchester. In a classified advertisement in The British Architect (25 May 1888, supplement, p. i), the firm, previously known as Freeman and Collier, lists its range of activities as ‘Gates, Railings, Balustrades, Lamps, Gas and Electrical Fittings; Iron, Brass, and Bronze Founders’. The same magazine (26 October 1888, p. 306) announced that in February 1889, the owner, Arthur Standring, was scheduled to present a paper to the Manchester Architectural Association entitled ‘The Treatment and Manipulation of Metal in Art Metal Work’. In the mid-1880s, the firm cast the subscribers and promoters plaque for the Memorial Fountain to Dante Gabriel Rossetti, Chelsea Embankment Gardens.

Terry Cavanagh November 2022

George Clark Stanton (1832–1894)

Sculptor, modeller, graphic designer and painter in both oils and water colour, he was born in Birmingham and studied at Birmingham School of Art. In the early part of his career, he was closely associated with the electroplaters and founders Elkington & Co, modelling figures for production in silver and bronze, and designing a silver table commissioned by the Prince Consort to present to Queen Victoria. Elkingtons placed such value on his work that they financed a trip to Florence for him to further his studies and gather ideas for new designs. While there he met his future wife, Clara Gamgee, and moved with her and her family c.1855 to Edinburgh, where he continued to produce models for silversmiths, as well as designs for publishing houses such as Thomas Nelson & Sons. His exhibited work included portrait medallions, busts of the veterinary surgeon William Dick (1857) and the Italian nationalist Giuseppe Garibaldi (1862, from sittings in Italy), a set of relief panels entitled The Seven Ages of Man (1857), and a cast of his design for the Caledonian Challenge Shield, the trophy of the Edinburgh Rifle Meeting (1864). He contributed six bronze panels illustrating incidents in the life of the Scott family to the Monument to the Fifth Duke of Buccleuch, Parliament Square, Edinburgh (1884–88). One of his most ambitious works was Pandora (1883), a figure with bas reliefs on the pedestal. He was elected Associate Royal Scottish Academician in 1862, acted as the curator of the Academy’s Life School from 1881, and was made a full Academician in 1885.

Sources: McEwan, P.J.M., The Dictionary of Scottish Art and Architecture, Ballater, Aberdeenshire, 2004; Scotsman, 9 January 1894, p. 4 (obit.).

Ray McKenzie 2018

Richard Timothy (Tim) Stead (1952–2000)

Wood carver, furniture maker and environmentalist. He was born in Helsby, Cheshire, and after completing a degree in fine art at Trent Polytechnic went on to spend a year as a postgraduate student at Glasgow School of Art. His earliest public commission was for the tables and chairs in the Café Gandolfi (1979), in the Merchant City, Glasgow, the first of a series of increasingly ambitious hybrid sculpture/furniture projects that have included the screen, chairs, pulpit and altar at the Kirk of St Nicholas, Aberdeen (1990), and the gallery seating and ‘Peephole’ at the Gallery of Modern Art, Glasgow (1996). His work was also included in the landmark exhibition Scotland Creates in Glasgow in 1990, to which he contributed a reconstruction in wood of the interior of a prehistoric dwelling at Skara Brae, Orkney. His concern for ecological sustainability has led to a frequent use of driftwood and recycled timber as a sculptural material, one of the most striking examples of which was a chess board made from discarded railway sleepers (1973). He lived for most of his working life in the Scottish Borders, and in 1996 co-founded the Woodschool hardwood centre at Ancrum, near Jedburgh, which now trades as the non-profit craft collective Real Wood Studios. His final work, Epitaph for the Elm, at South Gyle Broadway, Edinburgh, was unveiled posthumously on 26 June 2001. Tim Stead died of cancer in 2000, and his grave in Wooplaw Community Woodland, Galashiels, Scottish Borders, is marked by a stone slab by Ian Hamilton Finlay, and a carved wooden figure by Eduard Bersudsky.

Sources: Anon., With the Grain, information leaflet, Royal Botanic Garden, Edinburgh, 2005; (Glasgow) Herald, Arts Supplement, 8 March 2014, p. 8; Telegraph, 15 May 2000 (obit).

Ray McKenzie 2018

John Steell (1779–1849)

Wood carver, gilder and print seller, and the father of Sir John Robert Steell. He was from Aberdeen, but moved with his family to London c.1806, and soon afterwards settled permanently in Edinburgh, where he had business premises successively at Low Terrace, Leith Street, Princes Street and Hanover Street. He became an organising member of the Incorporated Trades of the Calton in 1812, and its Convenor four years later, but in 1819 was declared bankrupt, leading to legal proceedings that dragged on until 1826. He is known to have carved the capitals in the Signet Library, Edinburgh, but apart from these, and his Royal Arms of George III on the Customs House at Leith, very little work by him can be identified today. He taught modelling at the School of Arts on Adam Square, Edinburgh, 1837–38.

Sources: Joe Rock’s Research Pages: ‘John Steell, father and son, sculptors’; Lieuallen, R., ‘A Sculptor for Scotland: the life and work of Sir John Robert Steell, RSA (1804–1891)’, unpublished PhD thesis, University of Edinburgh, 2002, p. 31.

Ray McKenzie 2018

John Robert Steell (1804–1891)

The foremost sculptor in nineteenth-century Scotland. Born in Aberdeen, but resident from an early age in Edinburgh, he was the eldest son of the wood carver John Steell and the brother of the animal painter Gourlay Steell (1819–1894). During his late teens and early twenties, his education was divided between an apprenticeship with his father, intermittent periods of tuition at the Trustees’ Academy, and a short study trip to Rome (1829), where he almost certainly came into contact with fellow Scots sculptors Thomas Campbell, Alexander Handyside Ritchie and Laurence Macdonald. His earliest recorded commissions were for architectural works, all now removed or destroyed, including, in Edinburgh, a colossal oak statue of St Andrew on the façade of the North British Mercantile Insurance Company on St Andrew Square, a figure group in stone for the Widows’ Fund Insurance Company, also on St Andrew Square, and a wooden coat of arms in the pediment of the Theatre Royal, on Shakespeare Square. It was, however, the sensational success of his plaster model of Alexander and Bucephalus in 1833 that thrust him into the forefront of the arts in Scotland, and paved the way for his domination of the practice of monumental sculpture in Edinburgh for the next half century. The key milestones in the progress of his long and productive career begin in 1838 with his commission for a statue of Queen Victoria on the Royal Institution, Princes Street, Edinburgh, and culminate in his award of a knighthood in 1876 at the inauguration of his multi-figure National Memorial to the Prince Consort in Charlotte Square, Edinburgh. During that time, he became the first sculptor in Scotland to carve a full-scale figure group in the pediment of a building (Standard Life, George Street, Edinburgh, 1839), the first to receive a commission for a statue in marble (Sir Walter Scott, completed 1846), and, most importantly of all, the first to cast a statue in bronze, for which he established his own foundry in Grove Street, Edinburgh, in 1849. In addition to the eleven major monuments he erected in Edinburgh, he produced many statues for other parts of Scotland and beyond, including Dundee, Irvine, London, New York, Jamaica and Calcutta. He was actively involved in the Scottish art establishment throughout his career, becoming a full Royal Scottish Academician as early as 1829, and exhibiting at the Academy’s annual shows from 1827 to 1889. Yet another ‘first’ was his appointment as Her Majesty’s Sculptor in Ordinary for Scotland in 1838. In 1887 he was awarded a Civil List pension of £100 per annum. By this time, old age and failing health had driven him into de facto retirement, and in March 1888 he arranged for the ‘working plant and models’ remaining in his studio on Randolph Place to be sold by auction. The results were disappointing, and despite reserve prices set modestly between three and twenty guineas, not one of the full-size models for statues such as Alexander and Bucephalus and the Monument to the Duke of Wellington received a single bid. It is presumed that their eventual fate was to go ‘under the hammer’ in a more literal sense. Many of his plaster casts of historic works, such as four panels from the Elgin Marbles, did, however, find their way into the collection of the University of Edinburgh, and there is a symbolic aptness in the purchase by his former pupil David Watson Stevenson of a ‘box containing modelling tools made and used by Sir John Steell’ for one guinea. Steell died on 15 September 1891 and was interred in the Old Calton Burying Ground.

Sources: Graves, R. E. (rev. R.L. Woodward), ‘Sir John Steell (1804-1891)’, ODNB, (2004), 2005; Scotsman: (i) 14 March 1888, pp. 6, 16; (ii) September 1891, p. 7 (obit.).

Ray McKenzie 2018

Steell, John Robert

Thomas Annan, John Robert Steell, photograph, c.1860; National Galleries of Scotland
(photo: Creative Commons CC BY-NC)

David Watson Stevenson (1842–1904)

Sculptor, born in Ratho, Edinburgh, the son of a Banffshire builder. He studied at the Royal Institution School of Art and at the life class of the Royal Scottish Academy, and worked for eight years in the studio of William Brodie. He also studied in Rome, and made regular study trips to Paris throughout his life. He was a prolific portraitist, producing busts and statuettes of many fellow artists, including Amelia Hill (1869), George Clark Stanton (1872), Kenneth MacLeay (1877) and John Steell (1887). His first major statue was the monument to the Liberal MP John Platt in Oldham (1878), which includes four bronze symbolic figures, and was soon followed by a succession of important works in Scotland, such as the monuments to the poet Robert Tannahill in Paisley (1883), Highland Mary in Dunoon (1896), and Robert Burns in Leith (1897–1901). His crowning achievement was the colossal bronze statue of William Wallace on the National Wallace Monument at Abbey Craig, near Stirling (1887), a copy of which was produced for Baltimore, USA; he also produced fifteen marble busts for the National Wallace Monument‘s Hall of Heroes. He was elected ARSA in 1877, full RSA in 1886, and exhibited at the Academy every year without fail from 1859 until just before his death. He had studios in various parts of Edinburgh, but from 1891 was based at the Arts and Crafts Dean Studio on Lynedoch Place.

Sources: Johnston, W.T., Dictionary of Scottish Artists (c.2000), Scottish National Library, ref CD-ROM.585; McEwan, P.J.M., The Dictionary of Scottish Art and Architecture, Ballater, Aberdeenshire, Scotland, 2004; MacInnes, R., The Story of the National Wallace Monument, Edinburgh, n.d., [?2005], pp. 38-41; Rinder, F. (comp.), The Royal Scottish Academy 1826–1916: a complete list of the exhibited works …, Bath, 1975; The Scotsman, 19 March 1904, p. 8 (obit.).

Ray McKenzie 2018

James Alexander Stevenson (1881–1937)

Sculptor and medallist, born in Chester. He studied under Lantéri at the RCA, 1900–05 (winning a travelling scholarship in sculpture) and was one of the advanced students selected by Lantéri to carve a relief figure, of John Everett Millais, on the Cromwell Road façade of Aston Webb’s V&A Museum extension in 1905. He attended the RA Schools, 1906–09, winning a Landseer Scholarship in his first year. He was modelling master at the Regent Street Polytechnic, 1911–14, and was ARBS, 1923–26, and FRBS from 1926 until his death. He exhibited regularly at the RA (32 works), and also at the Paris Salon and the International Society. The signature he frequently applied to his works, ‘Myrander’, is a conflation of his wife’s first name (Myra) and his own middle name. In 1930 he produced two Kneeling Triton Lamp-standards in bronze for the Royal London Mutual Assurance building (Triton Court), Islington. Stevenson’s Times obituarist considered him at his best in portrait busts, notably that of Sir Frederic Kenyon, 1931 (British Museum). Other busts include King George V in naval uniform, 1914 (acquired by the sitter and now in the Royal Collection) and Sir Ernest Shackleton. His bronze bust of a Roman emperor entitled Imperator (1915) is in the Tate. He was commissioned to produce a number of war memorials including those to Major General C.W. Park, 1919, and to the Devonshire Regiment, 1921, both Exeter Cathedral; the parish memorial in St Mary’s Church, Bedfont, Middlesex, 1920; the Dingwall Memorial, Ross and Cromarty, Scotland, 1922; and the Askari Monument, 1927, Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.

Sources: Mapping SculptureRoyal Academy of Arts website; The Times, 6 October 1937, p. 16 (obit.).

Terry Cavanagh November 2022

William Grant Stevenson (1849–1919)

Sculptor, painter of animal subjects, graphic artist and humourist. Following his elder brother, David Watson Stevenson, he studied at the Royal Institution School of Art, Edinburgh, and at the life class of the Royal Scottish Academy, where he was a contemporary of the sculptors William Birnie Rhind and Thomas Stuart Burnett. As a professional sculptor he made a slightly more precocious start, winning the competition for the Monument to Robert Burns in Kilmarnock at the age of twenty-eight, and going on to produce three more statues of Burns for the USA: in Denver (1904), Chicago (1906) and Milwaukee (1909). Like his brother, however, he achieved his greatest triumph with a statue of William Wallace, erecting his colossal monument to the Scottish patriot in Aberdeen in 1888. In addition to his commissioned and exhibited work, he was a noted raconteur and observer of contemporary life, publishing a book of sketches of the Edinburgh International Exhibition of 1886, and modelling a series of semi-caricatured figurines of Edinburgh professors (whereabouts unknown). He also published several books of comic fiction, including Wee Johnnie Paterson and Other Stories (1893), and Puddin’. An Edinburgh Story (1894). Elected RSA in 1896, he exhibited at the Royal Scottish Academy shows more or less annually from the age of eighteen.

Sources: Johnston, W.T., Dictionary of Scottish Artists (c.2000), Scottish National Library, ref CD-ROM.585; The Scotsman, 7 May 1919, p. 6.

Ray McKenzie 2018

Stevenson, William Grant

Charles Martin Hardie, William Grant Stevenson, 1893, oil on canvas, National Galleries of Scotland
(photo: Creative Commons CC BY-NC)

Sydney Birnie Stewart (1914–1976)

Sculptor, teacher and painter in oils and watercolour. Born near Peterhead, he trained at Gray’s School of Art, Aberdeen, winning a gold medal and a travelling scholarship, and at the Royal College of Art, London. He went on to run the sculpture department at Maidstone School of Art in the 1940s, later teaching at St Martin’s School of Art, London, and Edinburgh College of Art. Best known for his carved stone figures, he also produced work in bronze, including Theotokos (1968) in the collection of the City Art Centre, Edinburgh. He was married to the sculptor and medallist Elisabeth Coster, and exhibited at the Royal Scottish Academy between 1938 and 1977.

Sources: British Art Medal Society: ‘The World’s My Oyster’; Johnston, W.T., Dictionary of Scottish Artists (c.2000), Scottish National Library, ref CD-ROM.585; McEwan, P.J.M., The Dictionary of Scottish Art and Architecture, Ballater, Aberdeenshire, 2004; Mapping Sculpture.

Ray McKenzie 2018

Alexander Stoddart (b. 1959)

Scottish sculptor and leading advocate of a return to traditional values in art. Born in Edinburgh, but brought up in Paisley, Renfrewshire, he studied at Glasgow School of Art (1976–80), where he underwent a ‘Damascene’ conversion from the prevailing Modernist orthodoxy to the ‘timeless’ aesthetic of the classical tradition. The development of his undergraduate studio practice was paralleled by a study of the work of the nineteenth-century Glasgow architectural sculptor John Mossman, laying the foundations for the detailed, erudite and philosophically sophisticated programmes of historical research that would later inform his approach to the production of commemorative monuments. After a brief period as a postgraduate student at the University of Glasgow, he worked in collaboration with Ian Hamilton Finlay at Little Sparta, South Lanarkshire, and although he went on to reject the older artist’s working methods, there is some similarity in their desire to combine the practice of art with a critique of contemporary society. This is evident in a number of early polemical works, such as Heroic Bust: Henry Moore, OM (1898–1986) (1990), and Biederlally (1992), which satirise figures from the worlds of both art and politics that are thought to embody elements of a more general process of cultural decline. It also underpins his international practice as a monumentalist, much of which is devoted to the celebration of historical figures whose contributions to the development of western artistic and intellectual culture he claims to have been under-recognised. Examples include the monuments to the mathematical physicist James Clerk Maxwell (2006–08, Edinburgh); the architect William Playfair (c.2006–16, Edinburgh); and the Paisley minister and signatory of the American Declaration of Independence, John Witherspoon (2001, Paisley), a duplicate cast of this latter being at the University of Princeton, USA. Allegory and mythology are also frequently employed as a means of re-asserting inherited value systems in a contemporary situation, with examples ranging from the three variants on the figure of Mercury – Mercurial, Mercury and Mercurius – in the Italian Centre, Glasgow (1990), to the colossal frieze on Homeric subjects at the Queen’s Gallery in Buckingham Palace, London (2002). In addition, Stoddart is a prolific maker of portrait busts, many of which are acts of personal tribute to fellow adherents to the classical tradition, such as the architect Robert Adam and the painter Barry Atherton. Stoddart was named in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List of 2008/09 as HM Sculptor in Ordinary in Scotland, and is an honorary professor at the University of the West of Scotland, Paisley, where his studio is currently located.

Principal source: information provided by the artist.

Bibliography: I. Jack, ‘A Life in Sculpture’, Guardian Review, 6 June 2009, p. 13; R. McKenzie, Public Sculpture of Edinburgh (2 vols), Liverpool, 2018, vol. 1, pp. 76–81, 85–91, 183–86, 259–65, vol. 2, 87–91, 356–60; A. Stoddart, ‘John Mossman: sculptor 1817–1890’, unpublished undergraduate dissertation, Glasgow School of Art, 1980.

Ray McKenzie 2018

Scott Sutherland (1910–1984)

Sculptor in bronze and stone. He was born in Wick, and trained at Gray’s School of Art, Aberdeen (1928–29), Edinburgh College of Art (1929–33) under Alexander Carrick, and the École des Beaux Arts, Paris (1934), as well as spending short study periods in Egypt, Germany, Greece and Italy (1934–35). He executed several statues of famous Scots for the Empire Exhibition, Glasgow, 1938, but is best remembered for a series of major figurative war memorials, including the Black Watch Memorial in Dundee (1959), the Seaforth Highlander Memorial in Vancouver, Canada (n.d.) and, most notably, the Commando Memorial at Spean Bridge near Fort William (1952). He taught at Dundee College of Art from 1947, lived in Tayport, and exhibited regularly at the Royal Scottish Academy.

Sources: Johnston, W.T., Dictionary of Scottish Artists (c.2000), Scottish National Library, ref CD-ROM.585; McEwan, P.J.M., The Dictionary of Scottish Art and Architecture, Ballater, Aberdeenshire, 2004.

Ray McKenzie 2018

John Macallan Swan (1847–1910)

Painter and sculptor born at Brentford, Middlesex. Swan entered the RA Schools as a painter in 1872, but relocated to Paris in 1874 to continue his training at the École des Beaux-Arts under Jean-Léon Gérôme. Gérôme introduced Swan to the animalier sculptor, Emmanuel Frémiet, and the two studied together in the Jardin des Plantes. In Paris, he also admired the animalier sculpture of Antoine-Louis Barye and Auguste-Nicolas Cain. Swan returned to England in 1879, continuing to study live animals, now at the Regent’s Park Zoo. Although the primary focus of his painting and sculpture was wild animals, he also studied the human form, both in Paris under the anatomist Mathias-Marie Duval, and in London at St Thomas’ and St Bartholomew’s hospitals. Most of Swan’s works are in museums and private collections, an exception being the eight bronze lions (1907) he contributed to the memorial to Cecil Rhodes at Groote Schuur, Cape Town, South Africa. His Boy and Bear Cubs (1901), although part of the Tate collection, is on long-term loan to Holland Park. He was elected a member of the AWG in 1887 (then described as a painter), and ARA in 1894 and RA in 1905. He won first-class gold medals (in painting and in sculpture) at the 1900 Exposition Universelle in Paris. Although little known today, Swan’s obituarist in The Times wrote of him: ‘It would scarcely be possible to name an English artist whose death would be more keenly felt among those working in a modern spirit, whether at home or abroad; and indeed it may be said that in France, Germany, and America Mr. Swan was probably more admired and more highly estimated than any of his English contemporaries’.

Sources: Armstrong, A., ‘Swan, John Macallan (1847–1910)’, rev. J. Melville, ODNB, Oxford, 2004; Baldry, A. L., ‘The work of J. M. Swan ARA’, The Studio, 22 (1901), pp. 74–80, 150–61; Beattie, S., The New Sculpture, New Haven and London, 1983; Mapping SculptureThe Times, 16 February 1910, p. 10 (obit.).

Terry Cavanagh November 2022

Swan, John Macallan

John Macallan Swan, before 1876, albumen print, coll. Royal Academy of Arts (photo: Elliott & Fry; public domain, via Wikimedia Commons)

Godfrey Sykes (1824–1866)

Designer, sculptor and painter born in New Malton, Yorkshire. He started out as an apprentice to an engraver in Sheffield and in 1843 was one of the first students to enrol at the Sheffield School of Design, a regional training institution recently opened by the Government’s Department of Art and Science. In 1850, the headmaster, Young Mitchell, persuaded Alfred Stevens (whose pupil he had been) to come to Sheffield to teach and to work as a designer with Hoole & Co. Sykes took the opportunity this afforded to work three-days-a-week as Stevens’s unpaid assistant at the firm, Stevens’s techniques and style exerting the single most important influence on his approach and working methods. In 1854, Sykes was commissioned to design a 60-foot-long frieze for the Sheffield Mechanics’ Institute (now in Sheffield City Art Galleries). In 1857, he was appointed assistant headmaster, but in October 1859 accepted Henry Cole’s invitation to relocate to London to work as principal decorative artist on the Horticultural Society’s new buildings and on the adjacent South Kensington Museum buildings; Sykes shortly afterwards engaged three of his fellow students as his assistants, William Ellis, James Gamble and Reuben Townroe. Cole, keen to enrich his principal designer’s artistic education, took him to France and Italy in 1861 (Sykes’s sketches from the journey are now in the V&A). Sykes’s health seems always to have been fragile and in early 1866 at the age of 41, he died of pulmonary oedema reputedly exacerbated by overwork. He left a rich store of sketches and designs which his assistants continued to use for the decoration of the museum buildings over the ensuing years. Sykes’s main work outside the South Kensington Museum was his design for the Monument to William Mulready (d. 1863), Kensal Green Cemetery, executed after Sykes’s death by Gamble and Townroe. Sykes, who had lived with his wife at 2 Rich Terrace, Old Brompton Road, was buried in Brompton Cemetery. Gamble designed both the headstone for his grave and also his monument at Weston Park, Sheffield (unveiled 1875).

Sources: Bryant, J., Designing the V&A. The museum as a work of art (1857–1909), London, 2017; Graves, S., ‘Sykes, Godfrey (1824–1866)’, ODNB, Oxford, 2004; Mapping Sculpture; Marsden, C., ‘Godfrey Sykes and his studio at the South Kensington Museum’, in M. Pye and L. Sandino (eds.), Artists Work in Museums: histories, interventions, subjectivities, Bath, 2013, pp. 48–62; Physick, J., The Victoria and Albert Museum: The History of its Building, London, 1982; V&A Museum, National Art Library: Catalogue of the special exhibition of oil paintings, water-colour drawings, architectural and other studies by the late Godfrey Sykes: at the South Kensington Museum, June 1866, HMSO (call no. VA.1866.Box.0001); ‘Henry Cole. Diary: Typed Transcript’, 1859, 1861, 1866 (call nos 45.C.120, 45.C.122, 45.C.127).

Terry Cavanagh November 2022

Sykes, Godfrey

James Gamble, Godfrey Sykes, copper relief patinated to resemble bronze, detail from the Godfrey Sykes Memorial Column, Western Park, Sheffield, 1871 (Photo: Ukance, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons)