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Public Statues and Sculpture Association

Charles Henry Mabey II (1867–1965)

Architectural sculptor based at Vauxhall, the son of Charles Henry Mabey. Mabey carried on the business established by his father well into the twentieth century. In 1903, his firm tendered for the job of producing parapet figures for the new War Office building in Whitehall, but though it lost this commission to Alfred Drury, it did secure the contract for the building’s architectural sculpture. In 1910, the firm provided the model for Ralph Knott’s new County Hall building, subsequently carving all the architectural details to his designs, as well as the heraldic shields of the various London boroughs. The firm also executed architectural carving for Mewés and Davies’ RAC Club, Pall Mall, 1908-11, and Bernard George’s Derry & Toms Store, Kensington High Street, 1929–33. Mabey died at Worthing, 1 June 1965.

Sources: Mapping Sculpture; Survey of London Monograph 17. County Hall, London, 1991; Ward-Jackson, P., Public Sculpture of the City of London, Liverpool, 2003.

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Alexander MacDonald & Co

Firm of stonemasons established in Aberdeen by Alexander MacDonald (1794–1860). A visit to the British Museum in 1829 to see the newly-acquired Egyptian antiquities motivated MacDonald to revive the lost skill of working granite to a smooth, polished finish, which he did with machinery harnessing newly-developed steam power. In 1832, the first of his polished Aberdeen granite tombstones was installed at Kensal Green cemetery. Orders flooded in to MacDonald’s Aberdeen works and tons of granite was shipped down the east coast, up the Thames to London and carted to monumental masons’ yard and the recently founded cemeteries around the metropolis. From 1834 to 1853, MacDonald was in partnership with master mason and architect William Leslie, trading as MacDonald & Leslie. After Leslie’s departure and until his death in 1860, MacDonald ran the firm alone. After 1860, MacDonald’s son, Alexander MacDonald II (1837–84), managed the firm, initially with stone cutter Robert Ferguson, under a board of trustees, but in 1863 assumed direct control, with Sidney Field (a designer) as his partner, trading for the next 20 years as Alexander MacDonald, Field & Co. With the increased business of these years, the firm opened a London office at 369–375 Euston Road. Following Alexander II’s death in 1884, Ferguson (who had retained an interest in the firm) joined Field as a partner and the firm became a limited company, trading as Alexander MacDonald & Co Ltd. In 1912, the firm was acquired by Henry Hutcheon and thereafter traded as Henry Hutcheon Ltd until it closed in 1941. The firm received medals at the 1851 Great Exhibition, the Paris Expositions Universelles of 1867 and 1878, the Philadelphia Centennial Exhibition of 1876, and Melbourne International Exhibition of 1880.

Sources: ‘Alexander MacDonald & Co. (fl. c.1820–1941)’, Glasgow – City of Sculpture; Curl, J.S. (ed.), Kensal Green Cemetery. The origins and development of the General Cemetery of All Souls, Kensal Green, London, 1824–2001, Chichester, West Sussex, 2001; Knee, R., ‘Alexander MacDonald (1794–1980) – Stonemason’, Friends of West Norwood Cemetery newsletter, January 2012, pp. 4–7.

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Tomb monument to Alexander Macdonald and family. Bronze tondo of Alexander Macdonald by George Anderson Lawson, Nellfield Cemetery, Aberdeen (photo: public domain).

Charlie Mackesy (b. 1962)

Illustrator and sculptor born in Northumberland and educated at Radley College, Abingdon, and Queen Elizabeth High School, Hexham. An atheist in his earlier years, Mackesy’s eventual acceptance of the Christian faith came with his conviction that its central purpose was the spreading of the message that all people have God’s unconditional love. A regular, and very popular, guest preacher at Holy Trinity Brompton (‘HTB’), London, the theme of all of his talks is his belief in the transcendent importance of love for one’s fellow human beings. Although he never attended art school, according to his own account he spent three months in America with a portrait painter where he learned about anatomy. He began his career as a cartoonist for The Spectator, subsequently working as a book illustrator for Oxford University Press. In 2003/4 he was one of the artists selected to work on Nelson Mandela’s Unity lithograph project. In 2019, he published his remarkably successful illustrated book, The Boy, The Mole, The Fox and The Horse, the main themes of which are love, friendship and kindness; by the end of 2020 it had sold over a million copies. His sculpture is similarly expressive of his beliefs, an example of which is his Return of the Prodigal, 2005 sited on the approach to HTB, an earlier variant of which was incorporated into the headstone over the grave of the political consultant Philip Gould (d. 2011) in Highgate Cemetery.

Sources: Charlie Mackesy website; Wikipedia.

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Carlo Magnoni (c.1871–1961)

Sculptor, carver, playwright and anarchist. Born in Brescia, Italy, he was in London from 1901. Magnoni is known to have carved for Thomas Brock, although it has not been possible to find any specific examples. He also carved for Onslow Ford, the statue of T.H. Huxley (1900), Natural History Museum; and for Henry Fehr, the carvings on the Victoria Railway Station frontage (1909–10) and probably the Middlesex Guildhall, Parliament Square (1912–13), and the war memorials at Leeds (1922), Colchester (1923), and Burton upon Trent (1922). Magnoni also carved a portrait bust of Sante Caserio (the Italian anarchist who in 1894 had assassinated the President of France, Sadi Carnot) which he submitted to the 1906 RA and which, unsurprisingly, they rejected. He also carved the figures on the Waggoner’s Memorial, Sledmore, Yorkshire (1919–20), designed by Lieutenant Colonel Sir Mark Sykes. Two of his plays, both socio-political dramas, ‘I delitti delle comari’ and ‘Gli Irredenti’, were performed in the Club Cooperativo italiano, Greek Street, in 1915 and 1917 respectively. Magnoni is recorded as residing in Bywater Street, Chelsea, in 1901, Bovingdon Road, Fulham, in 1911, and in 1954, the date in which his naturalisation as a British citizen is recorded in The London Gazette, Bernard Gardens, Wimbledon.

Sources: Burch, S. ‘United Enemies’ (Blog), 15 November 2011; Historic England official list entries: (i) Burton upon Trent war memorial; (ii) Colchester war memorial; London Gazette, 18 May 1954, p. 2931; Mapping Sculpture; Natural History Museum archives, ‘Statues 1927–1947’ (DF ADM/1004/700, 23, 95); Paolo, Pietro di, The Knights Errant of Anarchy: London and the Italian Anarchist Diaspora (1880-1917), Oxford, 2013, pp. 94n10, 99n32, 174–75, 194; The Sledmere War Memorial.

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Orazio Marinali (1643–1720)

Sculptor who trained in Venice with Josse de Corte (1627–79) and was influenced by him, as is evidenced by the statues of St Rosa of Lima and St Pius V either side of the Lady Altar at Brompton Oratory, Kensington, and in other works such as his statues of the Virgin and Child with St Dominic and St Catherine (1679) for the altar of the Rosary in S Nicolò, Treviso, and the Virgin and Child with Saints, Angels and Putti for the cathedral in Bassano del Grappa. In addition to his numerous commissions for sacred statues, Marinali received many for secular figures to decorate gardens and parks. He and his workshop were particularly known for imaginary portraits of desperadoes (bravi) and characters drawn from popular entertainments, for example, the commedia dell’arte figures in the garden of the Villa Conti Lampertico (‘La Deliziosa’) at Montegaldella, near Vicenza.

Principal source: Oxford Art Online – Grove Art Online

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William Calder Marshall (1813–1894)

Sculptor, born in Edinburgh, the son of a goldsmith. Marshall began his art studies at the Trustees’ Academy in 1830, and in 1834 moved to London, where he worked in the studios of Francis Chantrey and Edward Hodges Baily. On Chantrey’s recommendation, Marshall was accepted by the RA Schools in 1834, winning a silver medal in 1835. He studied in Rome, 1836–38, and in 1839 settled permanently in London. He showed at the RA 1835–91 (elected ARA 1844 and RA 1852); the British Institution, 1839–57; and the RSA, 1836–91 (elected ARSA in 1840, resigned when elected to the RA, made an honorary member at a later date). In 1844 he submitted statues of Geoffrey Chaucer and Eve to the Westminster Hall competition, on the basis of which he was awarded commissions for statues of Lord Clarendon, 1847, and John, Baron Somers, 1855 (erected in St Stephen’s Hall). In 1857, despite winning the £700 first prize for his design for the Wellington Monument for St Paul’s Cathedral, he was ultimately commissioned to execute only the series of reliefs for the Wellington Chapel (the commission for the monument going instead to Alfred Stevens). In 1878, Marshall was nominated a Chevalier of the Legion d’honneur in recognition of his services as a commissioner at the Paris Exposition. He executed many ideal works, including Hero and Leander, 1839 (for the Art Union); Hebe Rejected, 1837 (National Gallery of Scotland); The First Whisper of Love, 1845, and Sabrina, 1847 (both Royal Dublin Society); Infant Satyr, 1845–49 (diploma work, RA, Burlington House); Griselda, 1853–55 (Mansion House, City of London); Undine, 1863 (Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool); and Stepping Stones, 1880 (Salford Art Gallery). His most important public commissions include statues of Sir Robert Peel, 1853, Manchester; Thomas Campbell, 1848 (installed 1855), Westminster Abbey; Samuel Crompton, 1862, Bolton; the ‘Agriculture’ group for the Albert Memorial; and a pedimental group for Bolton Town Hall, 1870. A self-portrait bust is in the Scottish National Portrait Gallery. Following Marshall’s death in 1894, his executors staged an exhibition of his works in his studio at 115 Ebury Street, Pimlico. Archival material on the sculptor is held in the RA archives (‘William Calder Marshall papers’ 12 volumes, 1835–81, ref. MAR) and the Henry Moore Institute (refs. 1992.55 and 1997.32).

Sources: Greenwood, M., ‘Marshall, William Calder (1813–1894)’, ODNB, Oxford, 2004; Mapping Sculpture; Roscoe, I., et al, A Biographical Dictionary of Sculptors in Britain 1660–1851, New Haven and London, 2009; Royal Academy of Arts website.

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William Calder Marshall, Ralph Winwood Robinson C. Whittingham & Co, c. 1889, published 1892, platinum print (photo: © National Portrait Gallery, London)

Paul Mason (1952–2006)

Sculptor and painter born in Bolton, Lancashire. He studied at Bolton College of Art & Design, 1970–71; Wolverhampton Polytechnic, 1971–74 (under John Paddison); and the RA Schools, 1974–77 (under Willi Soukop). In 1976, he was the winner of the RA Gold Medal. Mason taught at art schools in Loughborough and Staffordshire, and at Northumbria University, 1993–97, and Derby University, 2004–06 (where he was Professor of Sculpture). Residencies include Webster University, St Louis, USA (1986), Tate St Ives (1996), and Gloucester Cathedral (2000–01). In 1977, Sir Frederick Gibberd commissioned from Mason, Hinge, in red sandstone, for the Gibberd Garden, Harlow New Town; this was followed by two more pieces for the town, Vertex, 1979, Bardolino marble, for Broad Walk, and Courtyard, 1985, marble, for the Civic Centre. In 1988, Mason was lead artist in the Tudor Square project, Sheffield; despite its having received the City of Sheffield’s Design Award in 1993, it is now largely lost to subsequent redevelopments. Other major commissions include Above and Below, 1993, Ancaster limestone, for the National Maritime Building, Southampton; sculptures and mosaic panels, 1998, for Seaham Promenade, County Durham; and East Yar River Project, 2002, six sculptures in Portland stone sited along the river from Niton to Brading, and The Tyburn Group, 2002, two sculptures in marble, plus a lettered plaque in slate listing the significant place names associated with the course of the Tyburn river from its source at Shepherd’s Well, Hampstead, to its outlet into the Thames below Vauxhall Bridge.

Sources: Harlow Art Trust, Sculpture in Harlow, 2005, pp. 61–63, 106; obituary, 19 May 2006, Independent online; White, D., and E. Norman, Public Sculpture of Sheffield and South Yorkshire, Liverpool, 2015, pp. 283–85; Wikipedia.

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Paul Mason in residence at Barbara Hepworth’s Studio St Ives 1996. (photo:Josephmason, CC BY-SA 4.0 via Wikimedia Commons).

Giuseppe Mazzuoli (1644–1725)

Sculptor. He is thought to have been born in Volterra, although soon after his birth his family moved to Siena where his architect father had been engaged to rebuild Prince Mattia’s palazzo. After initial training in Siena, Mazzuoli relocated to Rome where he entered the workshop of Ercole Ferrata. In 1675, he became a member of the Congregazione dei Virtuosi and in 1679 a member of the Accademia di San Luca. He is said to have concurrently run two workshops, one in Siena during the summer, the other in Rome in the winter. In 1679–89, he was engaged on a cycle of 12 marble statues of the Apostles for Siena Cathedral; no longer deemed stylistically appropriate by the late nineteenth century, they were purchased as a group by Father Charles Bowden and relocated to Brompton Oratory, London. One other major work remains in Siena, the Dead Christ, c.1673, for Santa Maria della Scala; the rest are in Rome: ‘Charity’, 1673–75, for Bernini’s Monument to Alexander VII in St Peter’s; statues of St John the Baptist and St John the Evangelist, 1677–79, for the Church of Gesù e Maria; a statue of ‘Clemency’, c.1684, for Mattia de’ Rossi’s Monument to Pope Clement X, St Peter’s; a statue of St Philip, 1711, for San Giovanni in Laterano, Rome; and the Monument to Angelo Altieri and his wife Laura Carpegna, 1709, for Santa Maria in Campitelli.

Sources: Butzek, M., ‘Giuseppe Mazzuoli e le statue degli Apostoli del Duomo di Siena’, Prospettiva, no. 61 (January 1991), pp. 75–89; Oxford Art Online: Benezit Dictionary of Artists and Grove Art Online.

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Meridian Bronze Foundry (est. 1967)

Bronze foundry established by Jack and Megan Crofton in Greenwich, their choice of name for the foundry inspired by its proximity to the prime meridian. In 1969, they moved to larger premises in Consort Road, Peckham, initially adjacent to the Corinthian Bronze Foundry and then expanding into part of those premises following Corinthian’s closure in 1971. The foundry was bought out by Morris Singer in 1999, the Croftons staying on for a short while as managers. In its heyday, Meridian’s output had been second only to Morris Singer’s in the United Kingdom. A small selection of its most important public sculpture commissions would include Franta Belsky’s Winston Churchill, 1969, Fulton, Missouri, and Earl Mountbatten, 1983, off Horse Guard’s Parade, London; Ivor Roberts-Jones’s Winston Churchill, 1973, Parliament Square, and his Field Marshal Slim, 1990, and Viscount Alanbrooke, 1993, both Whitehall; James Butler’s President Kenyatta, 1973, Nairobi, Kenya, his King Richard III, 1980, Leicester, Field Marshal Alexander, 1985, Wellington Barracks, London, and John Wilkes, 1988, Fetter Lane; Elisabeth Frink’s Paternoster, 1975, Paternoster Square, and Horse and Rider, 1975, New Bond Street Town Square (formerly sited in Dover Street); John Mills’s Blitz: The National Firefighters’ Memorial, 1990–91, Sermon Lane, City of London; and Angela Conner’s Twelve Responses to Tragedy, 1986, Cromwell Gardens, South Kensington, and General Charles de Gaulle, 1993, Carlton Gardens, London.

Sources: James, D.S, ‘Foundries’, Arts Review, 13 February 1970, pp. 70–71, 87; NPG British Bronze Sculpture Founders.

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Leonard Stanford Merrifield (1880–1943)

Merrifield was born in Wyck Rissington, Gloucestershire. After training as a stone carver, he attended Cheltenham School of Art. He then relocated to London, studying, firstly at the City & Guilds of London Art School under W.S. Frith and then at the RA Schools, where he won the Landseer scholarship and the Armitage prize. He initially found employment in Goscombe John’s studio, but by 1891 was working independently as a stone carver in Fulham. Merrifield showed regularly at the RA summer exhibitions from 1906. In 1913, he was one of ten sculptors selected to provide statues for Cardiff City Hall, his contribution being Williams Pantycelyn. He was elected FRBS in 1926. He executed numerous war memorials, including, in Cornwall, Newlyn (1920) and the Duke of Cornwall’s Light Infantry, Bodmin (1922); in Ireland, Comber and Holywood, both County Down (both 1922) and Lurgan, County Armagh (1928); in Buckinghamshire, Burnham (1920); and in Uttarakhand, India, the Garwhal Rifles (1923). Other public statues include Ellis Humphrey Evans, Trawsfynydd, Gwynedd, Wales (1923) and Richard Trevithick, Camborne, Cornwall (1928). Merrifield was at Stamford Bridge Studios, Fulham, by 1906, moving in 1912 to 116d King’s Road and finally, from 1924, 48 Glebe Place, Chelsea. During the Second World War he was a civil defence warden, and had been present at his local ARP post earlier on the day that he died. His memorial service at St Luke’s Church, Chelsea, was well attended by family members, local dignitaries, fellow artists and civil defence wardens. At the time of his death, he was working on a statue of Herbert Henry Asquith, 1st Earl of Oxford and Asquith for the House of Commons. Merrifield’s marble statue, The Nymph, c.1921, is in Chelsea Library, a gift from his widow to the Metropolitan Borough of Chelsea in 1946.

Sources: Mapping Sculpture; Welsh Historical Sculpture: Welsh Historical Sculpture presented to the City of Cardiff by Lord Rhondda of Llanwern … on the 27th October 1916, Cardiff, 1916; Who Was Who.

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Thomas Milnes (c.1810–1888)

Sculptor born in Tickhill, Yorks, the son of a stonemason. The year of Milnes’s birth given both in Gunnis and in Roscoe, 1813, is based on the fact that Milnes gave his age as 28 on his entry into the RA Schools in 1841. Chris Bell, a descendent of the sculptor, has discovered, however, that Milnes was baptised on 26 January 1810, suggesting 1809 for his year of birth. Bell presumes the date on Milnes’s tombstone in Kensal Green Cemetery, 21 December 1810, to have been supplied by his widow (his third wife) who, while knowing her husband’s birthday, was mistaken about his birth year. Milnes first came to public notice when his entry for the 1844 Westminster Hall competition, a group entitled The Death of Harold, was savaged by the Literary Gazette. Despite this inauspicious start he nevertheless won two important commissions in the late 1840s, Portland stone statues of Admiral Lord Nelson (1847) for Norwich and the Duke of Wellington (1848) for the Tower of London, now at the Royal Arsenal, Woolwich. In 1858, the government invited Milnes to model four lions for the base of Nelson’s Column in Trafalgar Square; although it is not known how he received such a prestigious commission, it may be significant that the sculptor who recommended him for entry into the RA Schools, Edward Hodges Baily, was also the sculptor of the column’s crowning figure. Unfortunately for Milnes, his models were considered unsuitable and the commission passed to Edwin Landseer. However, Titus Salt, who two years earlier had commissioned Milnes to carve his portrait bust (now United Reformed Church, Saltaire, Yorks) purchased the four lions, which were then executed in sandstone, for his workers’ village, Saltaire. Two of them, representing respectively Vigilance and Determination, are now outside the former Factory School and the other two, War and Peace, are outside Victoria Hall. Although rejected as supporters for Nelson’s Column – possibly because they lacked the requisite architectural calm – the Art Journal (1869, p. 159) thought they compared ‘by no means unfavourably with those in Trafalgar Square’. Milnes’s funerary commissions include a free-standing monument to Alfred Cooke, 1854, Kensal Green Cemetery (now ruinous) and a wall monument to the architect and engineer George Knowles (d. 1856) in St John’s Church (built by Knowles), Sharow, Yorks, this latter featuring a dramatic relief of a bridge succumbing to a raging torrent (presumably a symbol of death more suitable to an engineer than the traditional broken column). Milnes showed at the Great Exhibition of 1851 and also the International Exhibition of 1862, and was a regular exhibitor at the RA (26 works, mostly busts, 1842–66).

Sources: Bell, C., ‘Thomas Milnes, c.1810–1888. The nearly man of British sculpture’, The Saltaire Village Website, World Heritage Site; Cocke, R., Public Sculpture of Norfolk and Suffolk, Liverpool, 2013; Gunnis, R., Dictionary of British Sculptors 1660–1951, London, [1968]; Mapping Sculpture; Roscoe et al, A Biographical Dictionary of Sculptors in Britain 1660–1851, New Haven and London, 2009; Victorian Web.

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William Mitchell (1925–2020)

Sculptor and designer born in London. He began his art studies in the 1950s, firstly at the Southern College of Art, Portsmouth, and subsequently the Royal College of Art, where he won the Abbey Award, a fourth-year scholarship which enabled him to complete his studies at the British School at Rome. Following his return from Italy, he was taken on as design consultant in the LCC architects department, creating sculptural finishes for the many new developments then under construction across London. In the early 1960s he established his own company, the William Mitchell Design Consultants Group, to produce sculptures in wood, marble, brick, glass-reinforced-plastic and concrete. Many of his sculptures have been grade II listed by Historic England; examples include Corn King and Spring Queen sculptures, 1964, former Cement & Concrete Association building, Wexham, Buckinghamshire (listed 1998); three totem sculptures, 1966, Allerton Building, University of Salford (listed 2012); a mural, 1966, on the former Three Tuns pub, Coventry (listed 2009); and Story of Wool, 1968, a mural over the porch of the International Wool Secretariat building, Ben Rhydding, Ilkley, Yorkshire (listed 2015). Mitchell also executed architectural sculpture, 1967, for the Roman Catholic Cathedral, Liverpool, and a Stations of the Cross, 1973, for Clifton Cathedral, Bristol. For many years, he was artistic design adviser to Mohammed Al Fayed, owner of Harrods, 1985–2010. Following the death in a car crash in 1997 of Fayed’s son, Emad (‘Dodi’), and Diana, Princess of Wales, Fayed commissioned Mitchell to create a sculpture, Innocent Victims, alluding to his unfounded belief that the British royal family had ordered the couple’s murder. Erected between the escalators in Harrods’ Egyptian Room (for which Mitchell had also provided all the ornamentation), it was removed following the takeover by Qatari Holdings in 2018.

Sources: Cavanagh, T., Public Sculpture of Liverpool, Liverpool, 1997; Cavanagh, T., Public Sculpture of South London, Liverpool, 2007; Lloyd, F., et al, Public Sculpture of Outer South and West London, Liverpool, 2011; Noszlopy, G.T., Public Sculpture of Birmingham (ed. J. Beach), Liverpool, 1998; Noszlopy, G.T., Public Sculpture of Warwickshire, Coventry and Solihull, Liverpool, 2003; Seddon, J., et al, Public Sculpture of Sussex, Liverpool, 2014; White, D., et al, Public Sculpture of Sheffield and South Yorkshire, Liverpool, 2015; Wyke, T., Public Sculpture of Greater Manchester, Liverpool, 2004; relevant Historic England list entries.

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William Mitchell holding the Precast Award for 2014, which had just been presented to him by the Concrete Society (photo: Elaine Toogood).

Leonid Molodozhanyn / Leo Mol (1915–2009)

Winnipeg-based sculptor, ceramicist and stained-glass designer born in Polonne, Ukraine. He was taught to model in clay by his father, a potter, but at 15, began learning his craft as a sculptor, firstly with Wilhelm Frass in Vienna and then Fritz Klimsch in Berlin. Molodozhanyn attended the Leningrad Academy of Arts, 1936–40, but at the outbreak of war with Germany was conscripted. He married in 1943 and in 1945 he and his wife fled, firstly to Holland and then, in 1948, to Canada. It was at this point that he changed his name to Leo Mol. He had his first exhibition (ceramics) in Winnipeg, but afterwards established a reputation as a portrait sculptor, using a modified lost wax process. He won an international competition for a memorial to the Ukrainian poet and artist, Taras Shevchenko, for Washington DC (unveiled 1964), with replicas following for Buenos Aires, Argentina (1971), and Prudentópolis, Brazil (1989); in 2000, he presented a fourth cast to St Petersburg. Other public statues include Queen Elizabeth II, 1970, Winnipeg; John Diefenbaker, 1986, Ottawa; and St Volodymyr, 1987, Holland Park Avenue, London. In 1992, the Leo Mol sculpture studio and garden was established in Assiniboine Park, Winnipeg (CPRA Award of Excellence for Innovation in 1995). In 2002, his bronze Lumberjacks (1990) was featured on a Canadian postage stamp. Mol received honorary doctorates from the universities of Winnipeg, Alberta and Manitoba; was appointed Officer of the Order of Canada (1989); and was awarded the Order of Manitoba and made an honorary academician of the Canadian Portrait Academy (both 2002). He was a member of the Royal Canadian Academy of Arts and the Allied Artists of America, and a one-time president of the Manitoba Society of Artists and the Sculptors’ Society of Canada.

Sources: Internet Encyclopedia of Ukraine (updated 2014); Mayes, A., ‘Accomplished Artist: Leo Mol was Manitoba’s best-known and most honoured sculptor’, 7 July 2009, Winnipeg Free Press; Wikipedia

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Leo Mol in his studio in Winnipeg, Canada (photo: public domain).

Paul Raphael Montford (1868–1938)

Sculptor and teacher born in Kentish Town, the son of the sculptor Horace Montford. He was taught modelling by his father and learnt to draw at the Lambeth School of Art, 1884–85. In 1887, he entered the RA Schools on a British Institution Scholarship and in 1891 won the RA’s Gold Medal and Travelling Studentship for Composition in Sculpture (for his group, Jacob Wrestling with an Angel). Throughout the 1890s, he shared a studio with his father, firstly at Battersea and then from c.1903 at Clapham. From 1898 to 1903, he taught modelling at South West London (Chelsea) Polytechnic. Impressed with the monuments that he had seen on his European travels, he decided to specialise in architectural figure sculpture. He initially enjoyed considerable success, working with some of the leading architects of the day. For E.W. Mountford he executed 10 allegorical figures for the façade of the Battersea Polytechnic Institute, 1890–93, plus reliefs on Battersea Town Hall, 1892, and the Northampton Institute (now City University), Clerkenwell, 1896; in each of these he was assisted by his father. For Aston Webb he executed relief figures representing William Caxton and George Heriot, 1905, for the Exhibition Road façade of the V&A Museum, and all the architectural sculpture for the Royal School of Mines, South Kensington, including two figure groups supporting colossal busts of Sir Julius Wernher and Alfred Beit either side of the main entrance, c.1916. For Lanchester, Stewart and Rickards, he executed relief groups, 1901–05, for Cardiff City Hall, and in 1908 the attic relief for J.M. Brydon’s arched screen, 1908, across King Charles Street, Whitehall. By 1923, however, Montford was finding it difficult to secure new commissions in England, and so emigrated to Australia, his most important commissions there being war memorials at Camperdown (1927–29) and Melbourne (1927–32). M.H. Spielmann’s assessment of Montford from the earlier part of his career (1901) remains valid; his work was, he wrote, was ‘excellent in drawing, and though a little academic and not strikingly original, it is decorative in character and vigorous in conception and handling.’

Sources: ‘Battersea and Art. A Chat with Mr. Paul Montford’, South London Press, 19 August 1893, p. 5; Builder, 28 January 1938, p. 196 (obit.); Giddings, G., ‘Paul Raphael Montford, Sculptor’, Architects’ Journal, vol. lvi, no. 1457, 6 December 1922, pp. 789–92; McKenzie, R., Public Sculpture of Glasgow, Liverpool, 2002; Mapping Sculpture; Moriarty, C., The Commemorative Sculpture of Paul Montford, University of Brighton and Shrine of Remembrance, Melbourne, 2017; Parkes, K., Sculpture of To-Day, London, 1921, vol. 1; Spielmann, M.H., British Sculpture and Sculptors of To-Day, London, 1901; Who Was Who; Zimmer, J., ‘Montford, Paul Raphael (1868–1938)’, 1986, online 2006, Australian Dictionary of Biography; information from Royal Academy of Arts archives.

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Francis (‘Frank’) Wollaston Moody (1824–1886)

A designer, painter and teacher, he was the son of the rector of Chartham, Kent, and was educated at Eton College. He then spent a year studying with the painter C.W. Cope RA before entering the National Art Training School (NATS), South Kensington. In 1863, Moody’s talent brought him to the attention of Richard Redgrave who introduced him to Godfrey Sykes and he was taken on as an assistant. Moody’s work was thereafter much influenced by Sykes and Sykes’s master, Alfred Stevens, and he followed a similar, but distinctive, style based on the art of the Italian Renaissance. In 1865, he designed the South Kensington Museum’s Ceramic Staircase. He was appointed Instructor in Decorative Art at NATS and some of the more advanced students were selected to assist him in his own work for the decoration of the museum and its local branches, for example, at Bethnal Green, where the students executed the mosaic panels to Moody’s designs. In 1871, Henry Cole commissioned Moody to prepare designs in sgraffito for the new Science Schools building (1871–72), its success leading to similar work on the National Training School for Music (1874–75). Moody was, by all accounts, a brilliant and inspirational teacher and in 1873, published a successful volume on decorative design, Lectures and Lessons on Art. He exhibited occasionally, from 1850 to 1877, at the RA, the British Institution and the Suffolk Street Gallery.

Sources: The Athenaeum, 21 August 1886, p. 249; Gibbons, O., ‘An Art Teacher: the late F.W. Moody’, Magazine of Art, 1893, pp. 404–08; 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.

T. Cavanagh November 2022

Morris Art Bronze Foundry (active 1921–1927)

Bronze foundry formerly based in Dorset Road, Lambeth. It was established in 1921 with financial backing from the William Morris Company (Westminster) Ltd, whose speciality was ornamental metal work and stained glass (as Duncan James has pointed out, this was not the William Morris, though Morris undoubtedly took no great pains to disabuse potential clients from such a favourable misapprehension). The first manager, responsible for setting up the foundry, was Leonard Grist, who had served his apprenticeship and risen to the level of foreman at J.W. Singer’s foundry. Given the specialised nature of the skills required by an art foundry, Grist had no alternative but to poach his craftsmen from his old employer and also from Singer’s chief rival, A.B. Burton, of Thames Ditton. The Morris Art Bronze Foundry soon acquired a reputation for skilful handling of both sand casting and lost wax and won many of the most prestigious public commissions, including the memorial to William Lister, 1922, by Sir Thomas Brock, London; the statue of Lord Ronaldshay, c.1924, by John Tweed, Bombay, India; the memorial to the Bishop of Coventry, 1925, by William Hamo Thornycroft, Coventry Cathedral; and numerous war memorials, including Chatham, Plymouth and Portsmouth, all 1923–24, by Henry Poole; Ilford, 1924, by Charles Wheeler; and the Machine Gun Corps, 1925, by Francis Derwent Wood and The Guards Division, 1923–26 by Gilbert Ledward, both London. Ledward’s Awakening, Ropers Gardens, Chelsea Embankment, had been one of the foundry’s earliest casts, c.1922. Grist left in 1925 to set up the Corinthian Bronze Foundry. In 1927, J. W. Singer, unable to compete from its remote location in Frome, sold off the art foundry part of its business to William Morris & Co and the amalgamated foundry continued as the Morris Singer Company.

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

T. Cavanagh November 2022

Morris Singer (est. 1927)

Art foundry formed from an amalgamation of J. W. Singer and The Morris Art Bronze Foundry, operating from Dorset Road, Lambeth, until relocation to Basingstoke, Hampshire, in 1967. In 1993, the foundry was put into receivership but, despite financial problems, relocated in 1999 to a new site at nearby Lasham. In 2005, the Morris Singer name was acquired by Art Founders Ltd and, as Morris Singer Art Founders, moved to Braintree, Essex. However, by 2010 the foundry had again gone into administration and its assets were purchased by Nasser Azam, who formed a new business, Zahra Modern Art Foundries. This too went into liquidation, in 2013. Meanwhile, in 2011, John Berelowitz had set up a new incarnation of the old foundry which began trading as Morris Singer Art Foundry Ltd on the old foundry’s Lasham site. In its early years the foundry had acquired and maintained its commercial primacy by its expeditious adoption of new techniques. Most of the foundry’s work has been in bronze, although some important pieces have been cast in aluminium, e.g., Jacob Epstein’s Les Majestas, 1956, Llandaff Cathedral, and Mario Armengol’s ten 6.75m-high figures for Expo ’67 (now at Calgary, Canada). In its prime Britain’s most successful foundry, it was used by most of the country’s leading twentieth-century sculptors at one time or another.

Sources: Daily Telegraph, 11 December 1993, p. 11; James, D.S., A Century of Statues. The history of the Morris Singer Foundry, Basingstoke, Hants, 1984; Morris Singer Foundry website; NPG British Bronze Sculpture Founders.

T. Cavanagh November 2022

Alexander Munro (1825–1871)

Sculptor. He was a dyer’s son from Inverness, and was early patronised by the Duke and Duchess of Sutherland. While studying at the Royal Academy in London, where he was accepted in 1847, Munro was drawn into the orbit of Dante Gabriel Rossetti and the newly formed Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood. His reputation was established with Paolo and Francesca, a group inspired by an episode in Dante’s Divine Comedy. This was exhibited in plaster at the Great Exhibition in 1851, and in marble at the Royal Academy in 1852. The marble version is now in the Birmingham City Art Gallery. Munro was rather averse to public commissions, but he created five statues of historical scientists for the Oxford Museum (1855–60), and commemorative statues of Herbert Ingram, founder of the Illustrated London News, for Boston, Lincs. (1862), and of James Watt for Birmingham (1868). He preferred literary subjects, and was also successful as a portraitist. Many of his portraits are in traditional bust form, but relief medallions were also one of his specialities. Amongst his most distinctive productions are his poeticised full-length portraits of children. From 1865 Munro, who suffered from tuberculosis, was forced to spend more and more time in France. There he did busts of the author, Prosper Merimée, the lawyer and politician, Odilon Barrot and the philosopher, Victor Cousin. Following his death, in 1872 he was honoured by a special exhibition at the Birmingham and Midland Institute.

Source: Read, B., and J. Barnes, Pre-Raphaelite Sculpture. Nature and Imagination 1848–1914, London, 1991.

Philip Ward-Jackson 2011

Alexander Munro with his wife, Mary (née Carruthers), 1863, photographed by Lewis Carroll (photo: public domain).