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 (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.
Bibliography: W. Armstrong, ‘Armstead, Henry Hugh (1828–1905)’, rev. E. Hardy, ODNB, Oxford, 2004; T. Cavanagh, Public Sculpture of Kensington and Chelsea with Westminster South-West, Watford, 2023, pp. 99–100, 400, 406–14, 416–18, 423–24, 428, 429, 430, 431, 433–34; T. Cavanagh, Public Sculpture of Leicestershire and Rutland, Liverpool, 2000, p. 331; D.A. Cross, Public Sculpture of Lancashire and Cumbria, Liverpool, 2017, pp. 144–45; Mapping Sculpture; G.T. Noszlopy, Public Sculpture of Warwickshire, Coventry & Solihull, Liverpool, 2003, pp. 1, 200–01; G.T. Noszlopy and F. Waterhouse, Public Sculpture of Staffordshire and the Black Country, Liverpool, 2005, pp. 229–30; I. Roscoe et al, A Biographical Dictionary of Sculptors in Britain 1660–1851, New Haven and London, 2009.
Terry Cavanagh November 2022
William Robert Colton, Henry Hugh Armstead, 1902, bronze (photo:© Royal Academy of Arts, London; photographer: Paul Highnam)