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Public Statues and Sculpture Association

John Galizia (1930–1988)

Foundry formerly operating from Battersea. John (originally Giovanni) Galizia first worked in Alexander Parlanti’s foundry at Parson’s Green, west London. He then went into partnership with Giovanni Fiorini, before setting up on his own in 1930. In its later years, the Galizia foundry was run by the son, Vincent Galizia. The firm specialised in the lost wax process and, though renowned for the quality of its small-scale castings, also completed some larger, public pieces, including bronze figures for Alfred Hardiman’s Viscount Southwood Memorial, 1948, St James’s churchyard, Piccadilly; Charles Wheeler’s Sea Piece, 1949, Port Sunlight; T.B. Huxley-Jones’s statue of David Livingstone, 1953, Royal Geographical Society building, Kensington Gore; Estcourt Clack’s Diana Drinking Fountain, 1954, Green Park, Westminster; Arthur Fleischmann’s St Francis, 1961, Francis Street, Westminster; and William Turnbull’s Sungazer, 1961, Kingsdale School, Dulwich. Other sculptors who used the foundry include Kenneth Armitage, Franta Belsky, Robert Clatworthy, Frank Dobson, Elisabeth Frink, Maurice Lambert, Henry Moore, Uli Nimptsch, William Reid Dick, Oliffe Richmond and Michael Rizzello.

Sources: Henry Moore Institute, John Galizia and Son Ltd archive (acc. no. 52/1992); James, D., ‘Foundries’, Arts Review, 13 February 1970, pp. 70–71, 87; NPG British bronze sculpture founders.

T. Cavanagh November 2022

James Gamble (c.1835–1911)

Designer, painter and sculptor, born in Sheffield. He was, with Reuben Townroe and Godfrey Sykes, a student at the Sheffield School of Design, where one of his masters was Alfred Stevens. Shortly after Sykes’s move to London to work on the architectural decorations for the South Kensington Museum, both Gamble and Townroe were invited to join him as his assistants. Following Sykes’s early death in 1866, his two former assistants were appointed to jointly run the museum workshop, and over the ensuing years brought many of Sykes’s designs to completion throughout the museum. The two also collaborated on the exterior terracotta decoration of the Royal Albert Hall (1865–71). Gamble worked from a studio on the museum site until its demolition in 1875, afterwards relocating to 24 Rich Terrace, Old Brompton Road. The chief works for which he was sole or principal designer are the museum’s Centre Refreshment Room (1868); Sykes’s memorial (unveiled 1875, Weston Park, Sheffield); and two of the figures for Aston Webb’s new façade for the museum, John Henry Foley and Alfred Stevens, 1905. When he and Townroe were not working together on the museum’s projects, they assisted Stevens on his two great commissions, the decorations for Dorchester House and the Wellington Monument for St Paul’s Cathedral.

Sources: Bryant, J., Designing the V&A. The museum as a work of art (1857–1909), London, 2017; 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; Graves, S., ‘Sykes, Godfrey (1824–1866)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford, 2004; Physick, J., The Victoria and Albert Museum: The History of its Building, London, 1982; White, D., and E. Norman, Public Sculpture of Sheffield and South Yorkshire, Liverpool, 2015.

T. Cavanagh November 2022

Thomas Garner (1839–1906)

Architect and designer born at Wasperton, Warwickshire. In 1856, he entered the office of Sir George Gilbert Scott and in 1869, after working independently for some years, went into an informal partnership with G.F. Bodley. The most important of the partnership’s buildings for which Garner was either wholly or primarily responsible include St Michael’s Church, Camden Town (1879–81), and Hewell Grange, Worcestershire (designed 1883), the latter described in Brooks and Pevsner as ‘one of the most important late nineteeth-century country houses in England’ (it is now an open prison). Garner also designed the reredos, St Paul’s Cathedral (1886–87; removed after Second World War bomb damage), and monuments to Bishop Woodford (d. 1885), Ely Cathedral, and Bishop Wordsworth (d. 1885), Lincoln Cathedral; in each of which the figures were modelled by Guillemin of Farmer & Brindley. In 1874, Garner, Bodley and George Gilbert Scott junior founded Watts & Co, for which Garner made designs for textiles and ecclesiastical furnishings. The conversion to Roman Catholicism of Garner and his wife in 1896 led to the amicable dissolution of Garner’s partnership with Bodley the following year (their business being preponderantly Anglican church design). In 1899, following the death of Edward Hansom, Garner was appointed architect to Downside Abbey, Stratton-on-the-Fosse, Somerset, for which he designed the choir (1901–05) in which he himself was later interred.

Sources: Brooks, A., and N. Pevsner, Worcestershire, (2007), 2018, p. 625; Waterhouse, P. (rev. M. Hall), ‘Garner, Thomas (1839–1906)’, ODNB, Oxford, 2004.

T. Cavanagh November 2022

Joy Gerrard (b. 1971)

Artist based in Belfast. After graduating from the National College of Art and Design, Dublin, she went on to the RCA, London (MA and MPhil). Her public installations include Assembly/450, 2011–12, at Chelsea and Westminster Hospital and Elenchus/Aporia, 2009, at the London School of Economics. She has had solo exhibitions in Dublin, Belfast, London, Stockholm and New York, and has taken part in group exhibitions worldwide. In a recent exhibition at the Alan Cristea Gallery, London, ‘Protest and Remembrance’, 2019, Gerard focused on the representation, in a series of meticulously drawn images, of popular protests, her aim being ‘to make visible the masses who attend these protests, which she strongly believes can make a difference. Her work not only takes protest – and remembrance – as its themes, but it is, in itself, a form of protest’.

Sources: Joy Gerrard website; Queen Street Studios; ‘Joy Gerrard – interview: “I’m interested in how we witness and interpret these events”’, 13 March 2019, Studio International.

T. Cavanagh November 2022

Grinling Gibbons (1648–1721)

Sculptor and woodcarver. Born in Rotterdam, his parents were English, but he was brought up as a Dutchman and always spoke and wrote broken English. His father James Gibbons was a member of the Drapers’ Company, and he was admitted to the Company by patrimony in 1672. On his arrival in England around 1667, he is said to have spent time in York before settling in London. In 1671 he was ‘discovered’ by the diarist John Evelyn, in a house in Deptford, working on a wood relief of the Crucifixion (probably the one now at Dunham Massey, Cheshire), after a painting by Tintoretto. Evelyn’s attempt to promote Gibbons at court failed, and his introduction of the carver to Sir Christopher Wren did not lead to immediate employment. However, Gibbons found advancement and work at Windsor Castle through an introduction by the painter Peter Lely to Hugh May, Comptroller of the Royal Works. This initiated his career as an immensely prolific decorative wood-carver. Gibbons’s work as a statuary seems to have begun with a commission, in 1678, to carve the decorative panels on the pedestal of the equestrian statue of Charles II at Windsor. It is possible that he also modelled the statue itself. Gibbons then produced further standing figures of Charles, for the Royal Exchange (marble, 1683–84), and for the Royal Hospital Chelsea (bronze, c.1686), and of James II for Whitehall Palace (bronze, 1687–88, now in front of the National Gallery, Trafalgar Square). Between 1679 and 1686 Gibbons worked with the Flemish sculptor, Arnold Quellin. Quellin was a more fluent designer than Gibbons, and his skilled hand may be detected in the angels from the altar of Whitehall Palace Chapel, on which they worked together in 1686 (marble, now in the parish church at Burnham, Somerset). Some of the church monuments executed by Gibbons himself are, nevertheless, extremely grand decorative conceptions. Fine examples are the tomb of Viscount Campden at Exton, Rutland (1684), and that of the First Duke of Beaufort (d. 1699) at Great Badminton, Gloucs. Gibbons’s work with Sir Christopher Wren included the reredos (1684) and marble font for St James’s Piccadilly, and culminated with the carvings for the choir of St Paul’s (1695–97). In 1693, Gibbons was appointed Master Sculptor and Carver to the Crown.

Sources: Beard, G., The Work of Grinling Gibbons, London, 1989; Esterly, D., Grinling Gibbons and the Art of Carving, London, (1998), 2020; Gibson, K., ‘The emergence of Grinling Gibbons as a “Statuary”’, Apollo, vol. CL, no 451, September 1999, pp. 21–29; Rabbitts, P. Grinling Gibbons, Master Carver, London 2021; Roscoe, I., et al, A Biographical Dictionary of Sculptors in Britain 1660–1851, New Haven and London, 2009.

Philip Ward-Jackson 2023

John Gibson (1790–1866)

Sculptor. Born in Wales, while still a child he moved with his family to Liverpool. In about 1806, while apprenticed to a firm of cabinet-makers, he met the sculptor F.A. Legé who brought him to the notice of his employers, the marble masons Samuel and Thomas Franceys, who paid to cancel Gibson’s existing indentures so that he might take an apprenticeship with them. His work there attracted the attention of the Liverpool banker, politician and art collector, William Roscoe, who supplied him with commissions, contacts, and access to his collection of antique sculpture. In 1817 Gibson moved to London, armed with letters of introduction from Roscoe. That same year, however, he left for Rome, his trip funded by a subscription raised by Roscoe among those who saw potential in the young man’s work. In Rome Gibson trained firstly under Canova and subsequently (after Canova’s death in 1822) under Thorvaldsen, remaining in Rome for the rest of his life, expanding his studio and the number of his assistants to cope with the increasing numbers of commissions from the many wealthy English visitors to Rome. The first of his rare visits to England, in 1844, was to inspect the placing of his marble statue of William Huskisson (his second, the first having been installed in a mausoleum in St James’s Cemetery, Liverpool). The position set aside for it in the custom house in Liverpool proving inadequately lit and cramped, Mrs Huskisson paid for a bronze cast to be erected outside the building, and the marble statue instead went to Lloyd’s for their new Royal Exchange building in London (it was relocated to Pimlico Gardens in 1915). Gibson’s most prestigious patron was Queen Victoria, whose statue (RA 1847) was among the first upon which he introduced touches of colour, in accordance with ancient Greek practice. The culmination of his experiments in polychromy is the so-called Tinted Venus, 1851–56 (Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool). Despite the classical antique precedent, the result was deemed by some as an unsettling clash with the formal idealization of the figure and by others as merely vulgar. Gibson exhibited at the RA, 1816–64. The recipient of numerous international awards and honours, he was elected ARA in 1833 and RA in 1836. On his death, he left his fortune and the contents of his studio, including many fine drawings and models, to the RA.

Sources: Eastlake, Lady (ed.), Life of John Gibson RA, London, 1870; Frasca-Rath, A., and A. Wickham, John Gibson. A British Sculptor in Rome, London, 2016; Greenwood, M., ‘Gibson, John (1790–1866)’, ODNB, Oxford, 2004; Matthews, T., The Biography of John Gibson, R.A., Sculptor, Rome, London, 1911; Royal Academy of Arts website.

T. Cavanagh November 2022

Margaret Sarah Carpenter, John Gibson, 1857, oil on canvas (photo: © National Portrait Gallery, London)

(Hubert) Donald (Macgeoch) Gilbert (1900–1961)

Sculptor born in Burcot, Worcestershire, the son of decorative sculptor Walter Gilbert (1871–1946). After Rugby School, he attended Birmingham School of Art, the RCA and the RA Schools, the latter from 1922 to 1927, where he was awarded silver and bronze medals (1924 and 1925 respectively). In 1936, he modelled a portrait bust of Sir Henry Wood; part of the collection of the Royal Academy of Music, this is garlanded and displayed above the orchestra at the Royal Albert Hall each summer for the duration of the Proms season. Gilbert’s architectural sculpture includes the giant relief figure Night Thrusting Aside Day, 1936–38, for one of the corners of Collcutt & Hamp’s New Adelphi building, in Adam Street, Westminster, and the even larger relief figure of an airman with an eagle on his shoulder, Inspiration to Flight (signed and dated 1940), on the Simmonds Aerocessories building (1936–42, by Wallis, Gilbert & partners) at Brentford, overlooking the Great West Road. In the post-war years, Gilbert was commissioned to complete the programme of carved decoration on the frontage of Barkers of Kensington’s department store, begun by his father in the 1930s; the array of items he represents on the eastern staircase tower includes one of the newly available televisions, whose inventor, John Logie Baird, had sat for Gilbert in 1943 (bronze cast of the bust, 1959, in the National Portrait Gallery). Gilbert lived and worked in Kensington until c.1940 when he moved to Fittleworth, West Sussex. He exhibited at the RA, 1925–57, and became an FRBS in 1937.

Sources: Lloyd, F., et al, Public Sculpture of Outer South and West London, Liverpool, 2011; Mapping Sculpture; Royal Academy of Arts website; Ward-Jackson, P., Public Sculpture of the City of London, Liverpool, 2003.

T. Cavanagh November 2022

Walter Gilbert (1871–1946)

Designer, modeller, metalworker and entrepreneur. Born in Rugby, he studied at the Birmingham Municipal School of Art (1890–93), where one of his tutors was Benjamin Creswick; at the National Art Training School, South Kensington; and in France, Belgium and Germany. In 1898, he either set up, or was instrumental in setting up, the Bromsgrove Guild of Applied Arts, a commercial enterprise employing skilled artists and craftsmen working in metal, wood, stone, plaster, stained glass, etc. Phillip Medhurst, Gilbert’s biographer, has described his role in the Guild as obtaining commissions and presenting patrons with ideas which would then be executed by the firm’s specialist practitioners. In 1904, Louis Weingartner (d. 1934) joined the Guild as chief modeller. In 1918, Gilbert left the Guild to join H.H. Martyn and Co Ltd and when Weingartner subsequently left the two continued to collaborate (although Weingartner seems not to have joined Martyn’s). After Weingartner’s retirement in 1930, Gilbert’s son, Donald (1900–1961), a fine art sculptor educated at the RA, collaborated on many works with his father. The highpoint of Gilbert’s commissions with Weingartner and the Bromsgrove Guild was the ornamental metalwork for Aston Webb’s gates to Buckingham Palace (1905–08) and for the adjacent gates and screens erected as part of the Queen Victoria Memorial; for their work here the Guild was appointed ‘Metal Workers to His Majesty King Edward VII’. Following the end of the First World War, Gilbert, Weingartner and Martyn’s executed a number of war memorials, including those at Eccleston Park, St Helen’s, Merseyside (1921–22); Burnley, Lancashire (1926); Crewe (1922–24); Troon, Strathclyde (1924); Morley, West Yorkshire (1927); and Clydebank, West Dunbartonshire (1931). Their most important collaboration, however, is probably, the sculpture for the principal reredos of the Anglican Cathedral, Liverpool (1919–24). Gilbert and his family’s residence in Hanbury, Worcestershire, during these years, explains the presence of the plaster models for the ‘Nativity’ and ‘Resurrection’ panels from the reredos in Hanbury Church. Gilbert’s collaborations with his son and Martyn’s include decorative sculpture for Derry & Toms (1929–33) and Barkers (1936–39; 1955–58) department stores, Kensington High Street; the carved doors for the (former) Cornhill Insurance Offices, 32 Cornhill, City of London (1935); and, in the Freemasons Hall, Great Queen Street, London, the bronze doors to the Grand Temple (1927–33) and the war memorial shrine (1939). Gilbert retired from Martyn’s in 1940, dying in 1946 in Littlehampton, West Sussex.

Sources: Mapping Sculpture: Bromsgrove Guild, Walter Gilbert, H.H. Martyn & Co, Louis Weingartner; McKenzie, R., Public Sculpture of Edinburgh: The New Town, Leith and the Outer Suburbs, Liverpool, 2018; Medhurst, P. (comp.), Walter Gilbert. Romance in Metalwork (Internet Archive), CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, annotated edn., 2012; Morris, E., and E. Roberts, Public Sculpture of Cheshire and Merseyside (excluding Liverpool), Liverpool, 2012; Noszlopy, G.T., Public Sculpture of Birmingham, Liverpool, 1998; Ward-Jackson, P., Public Sculpture of the City of London, Liverpool, 2003; Ward-Jackson, P., Public Sculpture of Historic Westminster, Liverpool, 2011.

Terry Cavanagh February 2023

Sylvia Gilley (1908–2008)

A sculptor, she initially studied at Chelsea Polytechnic but, on being introduced to the sculptor Frank Dobson in 1931, gave up her classes at the polytechnic to become an assistant in his nearby studio. She stayed until 1939 and in the year of her departure Dobson executed a watercolour head-and-shoulders portrait of her which he then gave to her as a gift. Subsequently, Gilley worked from her own studio in Chelsea, in Sydney Street. Her Esmé Percy memorial drinking fountain for dogs, 1961, is in Kensington Gardens.

Sources: Jason, N., and L. Thompson-Pharoah, The Sculpture of Frank Dobson, London, 1994, p. 83; various.

Terry Cavanagh November 2022

Ernest George Gillick (1874–1951)

Sculptor and medallist. He first attended Nottingham School of Art, the two gold medals he was awarded there helping to secure, in 1896, a scholarship to the RCA where he studied under Edouard Lantéri and gained, in 1902, a travelling scholarship to Italy. Gillick showed regularly at the RA summer exhibitions (1908–51). His two high relief figures, of Richard Cosway and J.M.W. Turner, 1905, for Aston Webb’s new frontages to the V&A building were his first important public commission. More followed: memorials to “Ouida”, 1909, Bury St Edmunds; Sir Francis Powell, 1910, Wigan; and Dr James Adam, 1912, Emmanuel College, Cambridge. In 1913, Gillick was one of ten sculptors selected to provide statues for Cardiff City Hall, his contribution being Henry VII at Bosworth Field. In 1918, he executed the pair of bronze caryatids representing Britannia and Asia for the P&O Line offices, 14–16 Cockspur Street, London. His Et Tenebris Lux for the Birmingham Hospital Centre was awarded the RBS medal in 1935 and in the same year was elected ARA. The early support Gillick received from George Frampton resulted in an abiding friendship, the younger man writing a personal memoir of Frampton in The Times (28 May 1928) following the latter’s death and designing Frampton’s memorial for the crypt of St Paul’s Cathedral, which consists of a giant toddler gazing on a miniature version of Frampton’s Peter Pan standing on the palm of his extended hand. Gillick lived in Chelsea from about 1901. In 1905 he married Mary Gaskell Tutin (d. 1965), also a sculptor and medallist. In September 1951, Gillick collapsed while dining in a restaurant in Sloane Square and died en route to hospital.

Sources: Buckman, D., Artists in Britain since 1945 (2 vols: A–L, M–Z), Bristol, 2006; Daily Mail, 26 September 1951, p. 3 (obit.); Mapping Sculpture; The Times, 27 September 1951, p. 6 (obit.); Welsh Historical Sculpture presented to the City of Cardiff …, 1916.

Terry Cavanagh November 2022

Lady Feodora Gleichen (1861–1922)

Sculptor and medallist. Feodora Georgina Maud Gleichen was the eldest daughter of Prince Victor of Hohenlohe-Langenburg (1833–1891), a naval officer and, from 1866, himself a sculptor. He was the son of Queen Victoria’s half-sister, after whom Feodora was named. Feodora Gleichen studied firstly in her father’s studio and then at the Slade School of Fine Art, under Alphonse Legros. She completed her studies in Rome, taking a studio there for several winters from 1891 and exhibited regularly at the RA from 1892. An important early work, for the children’s hospital in Montreal, Quebec, was the life-size group in marble of Queen Victoria surrounded by children, 1895. Her Diana Fountain, 1899, is in Hyde Park. She won a commission in open competition to design and execute a decorative bronze relief, Queen Hatasu of Egypt, 1906, for the exterior of the National Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia, and also an anonymous competition for an Edward VII Memorial, 1912, for the King Edward VII Hospital, Windsor. Her statue of Florence Nightingale was erected in 1914 outside the Royal Infirmary, Derby, and her 37th Division Memorial unveiled in October 1921 at Monchy-le-Preux, France (for which, shortly before her death, the French government made her a member of the Légion d’honneur). Photographs of a selection of her works were published in the ILN (22 December 1906, p. 944). The RBS accorded Gleichen the posthumous honour of being its first female member.

Sources: Garrihy, A., ‘Gleichen, Lady Feodora Georgina Maud (1861–1922)’, ODNB, Oxford, 2004; Mapping Sculpture; Spielmann, M.H., British Sculpture and Sculptors of To-day, London, 1901, p. 161.

Terry Cavanagh November 2022

Lady Feodora Gleichen (1861–1922),1890. Album: Photographs. Royal Portraits, vol.45, Royal Collection Trust (photo: public domain)

Sir Antony Gormley (b. 1950)

Born in London, he studied at Trinity College, Cambridge, and various leading London art colleges, and was one of a group of innovative artists of the 1980s who came to be known as the ‘New British Sculptors’. However, unlike Tony Cragg, Richard Deacon and Richard Wentworth, who mostly work with found objects and abstract forms, Gormley has concentrated almost exclusively on the representation of the naked human figure, which he uses as a vehicle for exploring a range of anthropological and environmental concerns. Almost invariably cast in base metals from his own body, the figures have been presented in gallery exhibitions, such as Between You and Me (Rotterdam, 2008), but more typically appear in outdoor contexts, both urban (Event Horizon, New York, 2010) and landscape (Time Horizon, Catanzaro, Italy, 2006). Intentionally provocative, his work has often generated controversy, nowhere more so than with the 20m-high Angel of the North (Gateshead, 1998), a triumphant hybrid of art and structural engineering that turned the sculptor into a household name and gave impetus to the populist belief that the function of public sculpture is to provide the tourist industry with distinctive ‘landmarks’. He was the winner of the Turner Prize in 1994, was awarded an OBE in 1997, and received a knighthood in 2014.

Sources: Antony Gormley website; Kuiper, K., ‘Antony Gormley’, Britannica.

Ray McKenzie, 2018

Richard Reginald Goulden (1877–1932)

Born in Dover, Goulden studied at the Royal College. He exhibited at the Royal Academy from 1903 to 1932. Goulden became the art adviser to the Carnegie Dunfermline Trust. He produced bronze reliefs for the Carnegie Centre in Dunfermline (1901–05), a fountain with a statue of Ambition (1908), for the town’s Pittencrief Park, and a statue of Andrew Carnegie himself (1913–14), for the same park. In 1905, he carved a high-relief portrait of G.F. Watts for Aston Webb’s façade of the Victoria and Albert Museum. Shortly before the First World War, Goulden was commissioned to produce the Memorial to Margaret MacDonald, wife of Ramsay MacDonald, for Lincoln’s Inn Fields, London. This was inaugurated in 1914. On the outbreak of war Goulden enlisted in the Royal Engineers, but was invalided out in 1916. After the war he produced many war memorials, including those of the Bank of England, St Michael Cornhill, Kingston upon Thames, Reigate and Crompton. Goulden was a Fellow of the Royal Society of British Sculptors.

Sources: Blackwood, J., London’s Immortals, London, 1989; Waters, G.M., Dictionary of British Artists Working 1900–1950, Eastbourne, 1975.

Philip Ward-Jackson 2003

Richard Reginald Goulden
(photo: The Dover War Memorial Project).

Simon Gudgeon (b. 1958)

Sculptor born in Yorkshire. After studying law at Reading University, he practised as a solicitor. He began painting in his thirties, exhibiting for the first time in 1992, at Battersea Exhibition Centre. Gudgeon says that an ‘impulse purchase of artist’s clay at the age of 40 led into his new career as a sculptor, responding to what lay closest to his heart: the natural world’. He has since had exhibitions in London, New York, San Diego, Paris and the Netherlands; and has examples of his work in private collections in the UK and abroad, including those of the dukes of Edinburgh, Bedford and Northumberland, and also in museums, including the National Museum of Wildlife Art, Jackson Hole, Wyoming, and the Leigh Yawkey Woodson Art Museum, Wausau, Wisconsin. In 2011, the sculptor and his wife, Monique, opened to the public a sculpture park, ‘Sculpture by the Lakes’ at Pallington, Dorset, for which Monique designed the garden and landscape settings for her husband’s sculpture. Gudgeon models in terracotta clay, oil-based Chavant clay, epoxy resin and foam, producing sculptures primarily in bronze, but occasionally in marble, granite, glass or stainless steel. His sculptures are characteristically smooth-surfaced, simplified and semi-abstract, their forms derived from animals and birds, Gudgeon’s stated aim being to make a transformation of the original into ‘something abstract, taking away more and more information, but … maintaining the inherent tactile core, so the form is still identifiable’. Examples of Gudgeon’s publicly sited sculptures include Isis/Serenity, 2009, Hyde Park, London; Leaf Spirit, 2018, Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew; and Bird of Happiness, 2018, Mercia Marina, Willington, Derbyshire.

Sources: Simon Gudgeon website; Grainger, L., ‘Sculpture by the Lakes: “Gloriously wild”’, 15 July 2014, The Telegraph.

T. Cavanagh November 2022

Giovanni Battista Guelfi (fl. 1714–34)

Italian sculptor based in England for many years. He received his training from Camillo Rusconi (1658–1728), a leading sculptor working in the late Baroque style. Possibly engaged in Rome in the antique sculpture restoration business, Guelfi seems to have come to the attention of English collectors and it is thought that one of these, either Lord Burlington or Lord Leominster, two of his early patrons, encouraged him to come to England. In 1721, Guelfi restored the Arundel Marbles, then in the possession of the 1st Earl of Fermor at Easton Neston (now Ashmolean Museum, Oxford). Many of the original works Guelfi worked on in England were executed in collaboration with established architects, chiefly James Gibbs and William Kent. The most important work in which he was involved is the monument designed by Gibbs to James Craggs, 1724–27, Westminster Abbey, the standing, cross-legged figure of the deceased leaning on an urn proving highly influential with, inter alios, Rysbrack and Scheemakers. Guelfi’s model, in terracotta, is in the Sir John Soane Museum. Guelfi was himself to adapt the idea in his own monuments to Thomas Watson Wentworth, 1725–30, York Minster, and, in a seated variant, to Edward Rich, Earl of Warwick and Holland, 1730, St Mary Abbots, Kensington. Guelfi worked for Burlington both in his London house and at Chiswick Villa, but their business relationship was terminated abruptly in 1734 and Guelfi returned to Italy, settling in Bologna. The split seems to have been acrimonious, contemporary descriptions of Guelfi’s difficult character providing a probable explanation.

Sources: Esdaile, K.A., ‘Signor Guelfi, an Italian’, Burlington Magazine, November 1948, pp. 317–19, 321; Oxford Art Online – Grove Art Online; Roscoe, I., et al, A Biographical Dictionary of Sculptors in Britain 1660–1851, New Haven and London, 2009; Webb, M.I., ‘Giovanni Battista Guelfi: an Italian sculptor working in England’, Burlington Magazine, May 1955, pp. 138–45, 149.

T. Cavanagh November 2022