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Public Statues and Sculpture Association

A & A Sculpture Casting Ltd / AB Fine Art Foundry Ltd

Bronze foundry specialising in lost wax, based in the East End of London, established in 1977 by Henry (‘Ab’) Abercrombie and Andy Elton as A&A Sculpture Casting Ltd. Elton left in 1992 and the business continued under Abercrombie as AB Fine Art Foundry Ltd. Public sculptures include Barry Flanagan’s Leaping Hare on Crescent and Bell (Broadgate Square, City of London, 1988); Dhruva Mistry’s River and Youth (Victoria Square, Birmingham, 1993); Stephen Hicklin’s George Stephenson (Chesterfield, Derbyshire, 2005); Graham Ibbeson’s Eric Morecambe (Morecambe, Cumbria, 2000), Laurel and Hardy (Ulverston, Cumbria, 2009), Harold (‘Dickie’) Bird (Barnsley, S. Yorks, 2009), and Fred Truman (Skipton, N. Yorks, 2010); and Gillian Wearing’s Millicent Fawcett (Parliament Square, London, 2018). Other clients include Antony Gormley, Anish Kapoor, Michael Sandle, William Turnbull and Rachel Whiteread.

Sources: AB Fine Art Foundry Ltd website; NPG British bronze sculpture founders website

T. Cavanagh November 2022

Ivor Abrahams (1935–2015)

Sculptor, ceramicist, painter, collagist, printmaker and film-maker. Abrahams studied at St Martin’s School of Art, 1952–53, under Anthony Caro, and was apprenticed to the Fiorini Art Bronze Foundry, while studying at Camberwell School of Arts of Crafts, 1954–57, under Karl Vogel and Martin Bloch. After working as a display artist for Adel Rootstein in the late ‘50s, Abrahams taught sculpture as a visiting lecturer, 1960–70, at Birmingham, Coventry, Hull and Goldsmiths’ schools of art. He was selected, on Eduardo Paolozzi’s recommendation, for the seminal 1961 show ‘26 Young Sculptors’ at the ICA. Abrahams had his first solo exhibition at Gallery One, London, 1962, his first overseas exhibition at the Richard Feigen Gallery, New York, 1970, and established an international reputation with his exhibition at the Kölnischer Kunstverein, 1973. He had retrospectives at the Bernard Jacobson Gallery, 1955, and the Yorkshire Sculpture Park, 1984. In 2008, the Henry Moore Institute staged the critically acclaimed exhibition of his early work, ‘By Leafy Ways’. He was elected ARA 1989, RA 1991 and Senior RA 2010; and was RA Professor of Sculpture 2007–10. Abrahams worked in a wide variety of materials, ranging from flock fibre to latex to bronze. His subjects, always figurative, include the human figure, giant owls, domestic gardens, and, from the 1990s, the ‘post-Cubist architectural structures’, exemplified by Head of the Stairs. His work features in public collections including the Tate; V&A; Bibliothèque Nationale, Paris; and Metropolitan Museum, New York.

Sources: Buckman, D., Artists in Britain since 1945 (2 vols: A–L, M–Z), Bristol, 2006; Lambirth, A., Eden and Other Suburbs. The Life and Works of Ivor Abrahams, Bristol, 2012; McEwen, J., ‘Ivor Abrahams: Maverick artist …’, 1 February 2015, The Independent online; Royal Academy of Arts website; ‘Ivor Abrahams, artist – obituary’, 19 January 2015, The Telegraph.

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Ivor Abrahams in his Studio (photo: © A.K.Purkiss)

George Gammon Adams (1821–1898)

Sculptor and medallist. At 16 was apprenticed to the chief engraver, William Wyon RA, at the Royal Mint. In 1840, he entered the RA Schools, giving his address as 1 South Place, Pimlico; in the same year he won a silver medal for a head, Melpomene. In 1846 he briefly studied under John Gibson in Rome. Returning to England the following year, he won the RA gold medal for his group, Murder of the Innocents (engraving in ILN, 18 December 1847, p. 400), which he also showed at the Great Exhibition of 1851. He established his reputation as a medallist with his design for the reverse of the Great Exhibition’s Juror’s medal. In 1852, Adams took the death mask of the Duke of Wellington, the marble bust he executed from it being highly regarded by the Duke’s heirs. Critical responses to his portrait busts and statues were wildly variable, even within the same magazine. In 1858, the Art Journal (p. 252) considered that Adams’s statue of General Charles Napier, 1856, Trafalgar Square, warranted a full-page engraving, commending it as a ‘faithful and characteristic representation … a bold, animated copy of a bold, lion-hearted and generous soldier’ and yet, four years later, damned the statue as ‘perhaps the worst piece of sculpture in England’ (1862, p. 98). Only his statue of Hugh McNeile, Dean of Ripon, 1870, for St George’s Hall, Liverpool, met with universal approbation, the Daily Post (15 December 1870) considering it the hall’s ‘one good statue’. Sadly, Adams’s brief obituary in the Athenaeum (12 December 1898, p. 350) remembered only the brickbats hurled at the Napier statue. Adams was a member of the Institute of British Sculptors from c.1860 and was elected FSA in 1869. He lived and worked, c.1853–90, at 126 Sloane Street, Chelsea.

Sources: Mapping Sculpture; Roscoe, I., et al, A Biographical Dictionary of Sculptors in Britain 1660–1851, New Haven and London, 2009.

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John Adams Acton (also Adams-Acton) (1830–1910)

Sculptor. Born John Adams, he had added Acton to his surname by 1864 presumably to distinguish himself from two similarly named painters then showing at the RA. At first, he seems to have signed his works only in the unhyphenated form (e.g., Pharaoh’s Daughter, 1865, Russell-Cotes Museum, Bournemouth) but by 1869 at the latest was sometimes using a hyphen (e.g., bust of W.E. Gladstone, 1869, Reform Club). He trained under Timothy Butler then Matthew Noble before attending the RA Schools, 1853–58, where he was awarded silver medals in the antique school (1853) and life school (1854), a gold medal for a historical group in the round (1855), and the travelling studentship (1858) for his group Orestes and Pylades (engr. in ILN, 4 September 1858, p. 222). He went to Rome and stayed until 1865, studying under John Gibson, who admired his ability as a portraitist; among the many tourists Gibson referred to him for commissions was W.E. Gladstone who, in addition to sitting for a number of portrait busts and statues, became Adams Acton’s patron and a family friend. He is known to have sourced his own marble at the Carrara quarries, an example being for his 1870 statue of Gladstone for St George’s Hall, Liverpool. He married in 1875 and in 1876 he and his wife went to India, remaining for eight months, during which time he set up a busy studio in Bombay (Mumbai); he continued to receive commissions from India throughout his life. Important works include a second statue of Gladstone for Blackburn (1899), statues of Titus Salt for Bradford (1874) and Queen Victoria for Kingston, Jamaica, and the Bahamas; and monuments to Bishop Waldegrave for Carlisle Cathedral (1872), John and Charles Wesley for Westminster Abbey (1876), George Cruikshank for St Paul’s Cathedral (1881) and, his final work, Cardinal Manning for Westminster Cathedral (unveiled in the year of his death, 22 January 1910). Adams Acton was a regular exhibitor at the RA from 1854 to 1892.

Sources: Fryer, S.E., ‘Acton, John Adams- (1830–1910)’, rev. Anne MacPhee, ODNB, Oxford, 2004; ILN: (i) 21 May 1870, p. 529; (ii) 16 August 1873, pp. 153–54; (iii) 20 January 1877, p. 51; (iv) 10 September 1881, p. 257; (v) 5 November 1910, p. 692 (obit. with portrait photo); Mapping Sculpture; Stirling, A.M., Victorian Sidelights: From the Papers of the late Mrs Adams-Acton, London 1954; Times, 24 January 1910, p. 17.

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John Adams-Acton (photo: public domain)

Julian Phelps Allan (1892–1996)

Born Eva Dorothy Allan, she changed her name c.1929 on starting her career as a professional sculptor. Her reasons remain a source of speculation – that she hoped her work would be taken more seriously under a man’s name; that it was her way of asserting a lesbian identity; or that she renamed herself after Julian of Norwich, a female medieval English mystic, the latter suggestion perhaps the most feasible in light of her deep religious faith. Allan served in the army in both world wars, becoming a colonel in the Auxiliary Territorial Service and first president of its War Office Selection Board. She began training as an artist in the early 1920s, firstly at Westminster School of Art, then, 1922–25, at the RA Schools where she gained a Landseer scholarship in 1923 and the gold medal and travelling studentship in 1925. She showed frequently at the RA Summer Exhibitions 1925–49. In 1926, she studied with Libero Andreotti in Florence and, back in England, with Eric Gill. Allan’s interest in Romanesque and Byzantine art took her to France and Yugoslavia to study examples first-hand. She was elected ARBS 1937 and FRBS 1947. Her Mother and Child was illustrated in RBS. Modern British Sculpture (1939). Allan kept a studio for some years in Edinburgh, exhibiting irregularly at the Royal Scottish Academy, 1942–51, finally leaving Scotland c.1970. Registered blind by 1974, she later became deaf and spent her final years at Henley-on-Thames. The Tate has her bust, Marjorie (Chantrey Bequest 1929). Her most significant piece of public sculpture is the 6m-high Winged Victory in reconstituted concrete for St Dunstan’s Home for Blind Veterans, Ovingdean, East Sussex, 1938–39.

Sources: Barnes, R., The Art of Memory. Sculpture in the Cemeteries of London, Kirstead, Norfolk, 2016, p. 188; Buckman, D., Artists in Britain since 1945 (2 vols: A–L, M–Z), Bristol, 2006; Seddon, J., et al, Public Sculpture of Sussex, Liverpool, 2014, pp. 89–90; Mapping Sculpture; Tate.

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Hendrik Christian Andersen (1872–1940)

Norwegian-born sculptor. While Andersen and his two brothers were children, their family emigrated to Newport, Rhode Island, USA. The boys showed precocious artistic ability and had the good fortune to be educated at the expense of local philanthropists. Andersen continued his studies in France and Italy, living, by the late 1890s, in Rome where he was introduced to the writer Henry James. Beguiled by the attractive young sculptor – whom he believed to be a genius – James bought Andersen’s painted terracotta bust of a boy, Count Alberto Bevilacqua, bringing it back to his home, Lamb House (now NT), in Rye, East Sussex, where it remains. Andersen’s painter brother, Andreas, had married Olivia Cushing, a wealthy heiress with literary pretensions, and on his death in 1902, Andersen and Olivia decided to create a palace of the arts dedicated to Andreas’s memory. It was to be hung with her late husband’s paintings and peopled with Andersen’s statues; here also, Olivia’s plays would be performed with music by Arthur, the second of Hendrik’s brothers. In 1917, Olivia died leaving all her money to Andersen, who initiated the construction of the palace, Villa Helene in the Via Mancini, Rome, and spent the rest of his life working on a series of over-life-size, technically competent, but wildly kitsch statues for it. Andersen bequeathed the palace and its contents to the Italian government. The Hendrik Christian Andersen Museum, as it became, was finally inaugurated in 1999.

Sources: Morris, R.C., ‘Henry James and an Eccentric Sculptor’s Fantasies’, New York Times, 3 June 2000; Wikipedia

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Arch Bronze Ltd

Established in 1986 at Putney, South London, by Chris Nash and Gabrielle Brisbane. The foundry’s website lists a wide range of services, including casting in bronze, aluminium and other non-ferrous alloys. Clients include Jake & Dinos Chapman, Nic Fiddian-Green, Maggi Hambling and Marc Quinn. Public sculptures include Dhruva Mistry’s Diagram of an Object, 1990, in front of the Hunterian Art Gallery, Glasgow; Eduardo Paolozzi’s Parthenope and Egeria, 1997, in front of the Michael Swann Building, Edinburgh; Andrew Logan’s Pegasus, 2001, Scott’s Green Island, Dudley; and Charlie Mackesey’s Return of the Prodigal, 2005, Brompton Road, South Kensington.

Sources: Arch Bronze Ltd website; NPG British bronze sculpture founders website.

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Henry Hugh Armstead (1828–1905)

Sculptor, metalworker and illustrator born in London. Armstead first worked for his father as a heraldic chaser and aged about 13 was sent to the Government School of Design, Somerset House. In 1847 he entered the RA Schools and at about the same time trained in the studio of Edward Hodges Baily. He won prizes from the Art Union, in 1849 for a relief, The Death of Boadicea, and in 1851 for a statuette, Satan dismayed; both were published in small bronze editions. In his early career he worked for the silversmiths Hunt & Roskell, his most important work in their employment being a silver- and gold-damascened steel shield presented to Sir James Outram in 1862 (on long loan to the V&A). Armstead’s switch to sculpture as his principal occupation has been attributed both to the paucity of critical response to his Outram Shield at that year’s International and RA exhibitions and also to the influence of Sir George Gilbert Scott who, struck by the high quality of Armstead’s work, began employing him as an architectural sculptor, most notably on his Albert Memorial Remorse (1862–72) and Colonial (now Foreign and Commonwealth) Office building (1873–74). It was the scale of Armstead’s works on these projects that necessitated his move in c.1868 to larger premises, at Bridge Place, Eccleston Bridge, Pimlico. Armstead also executed several funerary monuments to Scott’s designs, including those for Dean Howard, 1872, and Archdeacon Moore, 1879 (both Lichfield Cathedral) and Bishop Wilberforce, d. 1873 (Winchester Cathedral). Armstead’s independent commissions include statues of George Edmund Street (1886, Royal Courts of Justice) and Thomas Waghorn (1888, Chatham). His marble figure of Lady Macbeth, entitled Remorse (1903; Chantrey Bequest) is in the Tate. Armstead exhibited at the RA from 1851, was elected ARA and began teaching in the RA Schools in 1875, and was elected RA in 1879. Four large albums of his sketches are preserved in the RA archives. Edmund Gosse and M.H. Spielmann both acknowledged the significant impact that Armstead’s craftsmanship and naturalistic approach to sculpture exerted on the younger generation of the New Sculpture movement.

Sources: Armstrong, W., ‘Armstead, Henry Hugh (1828–1905)’, rev. E. Hardy, ODNB, Oxford, 2004; Mapping Sculpture; Roscoe, I., et al, A Biographical Dictionary of Sculptors in Britain 1660–1851, New Haven and London, 2009.

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Robert Colton, Henry Hugh Armstead, 1902, bronze (photo:© Royal Academy of Arts, London; photographer: Paul Highnam)

Arthur Ashpitel (1807–1869)

Architect and antiquary. He was trained by his father, the architect William Hurst Ashpitel, and began working on his own account in 1842. His two most important buildings are the churches of St. John’s, Blackheath, and St. Barnabas, Homerton. In 1845, with David Roberts RA as his travelling companion, he went to Rome, remaining there for several years. He exhibited two of his Roman drawings at the RA, Ancient Rome, 1858, no. 1008, and Modern Rome, 1859, no. 1051 (now V&A 237-1869 and 238-1869). He was in partnership with John Whichcord II, 1850–55. Ashpitel’s monument designs include Nicholas Ridley, 1857, St Martin’s, Herne, Kent (carved by Seale) and Peter Borthwick, c.1867, Brompton Cemetery (bronze figures by Brucciani stolen; stone replacements now headless; monument described and illustrated in Builder, 5 January 1867, pp. 9, 10).

Sources: Builder, 30 January 1869, p. 81 (obit.); Dictionary of National Biography 1855-1900,; Newman, J., Kent: North East and East (Buildings of England), New Haven and London, 2013, p. 397; ‘Tomb of Peter Borthwick and family’,Historic England official list entry ; Wikipedia.

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(Aubrey) Eric (Stacy) Aumonier (1899–1974)

Sculptor, born at Northwood, Middlesex, of Huguenot descent. Aumonier’s father and grandfather, both named William, were also sculptors. His grandfather (‘William I’) founded William Aumonier & Son, specialising in architectural sculpture, in 1876 (for Aumonier’s father, ‘William II’, see below). Aumonier studied at Central School of Arts and Crafts, and although he joined the family firm in the early 1920s he was working independently by the end of that decade. He was a member of the AWG from 1950. His major commissions include the South Wind relief on the London Underground Headquarters, St James’s Park, c.1929; two terracotta panels on East Sheen cinema, 1930; two plaster reliefs, Industries of the British Isles and British Empire Industries, for the foyer of the Daily Express building, Fleet Street, 1932; a bas relief, Hygieia and the Nine Muses, 1933, for Hall, Easton and Robertson’s Nurses’ Home at Great Ormond Street Hospital for Sick Children; the Royal Arms for the British Pavilion at the New York World’s Fair, 1939; The Archer, a figure in lead and wood for the roof of East Finchley Underground Station, 1939–40; the White Knight for the Festival of Britain, South Bank, 1951; and giant nursery rhyme figures for the Food Fair, Olympia, 1960. Aumonier also produced set work for the cinema, most memorably for the 1946 Powell and Pressburger film A Matter of Life and Death, in which he created a giant moving staircase with figures from history moving towards heaven. He and his wife emigrated to New Zealand in the early 1960s and he gave up sculpture due to arthritis in 1968.

Sources: Buckman, D., Artists in Britain since 1945 (2 vols: A–L, M–Z), Bristol, 2006; Mapping Sculpture.

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Richard Austin

Sculptor based in Wadebridge, Cornwall, from which he runs public workshops for a few months of each year. His hyper-real life-size Invisible Sleeper was commissioned by St Petroc’s Society, Cornwall, to highlight homelessness in the county and was temporarily installed for a special service in Truro cathedral on 9 July 2011 to mark the Society’s 25th anniversary. The popular success of Austin’s statue of John Clare (2016) for Northampton Borough Council led to their commissioning from him five more cold cast bronze statues for the Guildhall in 2017: Malcolm Arnold, Francis Crick, Edgar Mobbs, Walter Tull, and Lady Wantage. His Town-Crier (2013) is in Liskeard Museum, Cornwall, and his Miner at the Museum of Dartmoor Life, Okehampton, Devon.

Sources: Richard Austin’s Sculpture Workshop; Cornwall Artists; ‘Statues inspired by local history commissioned for Northampton’, 3 July 2017, Northampton Borough Council.

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