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Public Statues and Sculpture Association

Sir Thomas Brock (1847–1922)

Sculptor. Born in Worcester where he attended the Government School of Design. In 1866 he moved to London and became a pupil of John Henry Foley. In 1867 he entered the Royal Academy Schools gaining, in 1869, the RA gold medal in sculpture for his group, Hercules Strangling Antaeus, which was exhibited at the RA in 1870. In this same year, 1870, he produced his first portrait statue, Richard Baxter, at Kidderminster. When Foley died in 1874, Brock undertook to complete many of his unfinished commissions, thereby succeeding to much of his practice. Brock’s numerous public commissions include portrait statues of Sir Bartle Frere (1888, Victoria Embankment Gardens, London), and Sir J.E. Millais (1904, John Islip Street, London – originally in front of the Tate Gallery); the Tomb of Lord Leighton (1900, St Paul’s Cathedral); and an Equestrian Statue of the Black Prince (1902, City Square, Leeds), but the most prestigious was the Memorial to Queen Victoria (with Aston Webb) in front of Buckingham Palace, earning him his knighthood at its unveiling in 1911. It was probably on the strength of this that Brock was chosen to sculpt a memorial to New Zealand’s then longest serving Prime Minister, Richard John Seddon, which, since 2015 has stood outside the Parliament Buildings in Wellington. Brock exhibited at the RA, 1868–1922, and was elected ARA in 1883 and RA in 1891. He was first president of the Royal Society of British Sculptors at its founding in 1905 and membre d’honneur of the Société des Artistes Français. He was made honorary ARIBA in 1908, honorary DCL at Oxford University in 1909, and honorary RSA in 1916. He died 22 August 1922.

Bibliography: S. Beattie, The New Sculpture, New Haven and London, 1983; F. Brock, Thomas Brock. Forgotten Sculptor of the Victoria Memorial (ed. J. Sankey), Bloomington, 2012; T. Cavanagh, Public Sculpture of Kensington and Chelsea with Westminster South-West, Watford, 2023, pp. xxxvii, 86, 121, 144–46, 149–51, 376, 437, 481; T. Cavanagh, Public Sculpture of Leicestershire and Rutland, Liverpool, 2000, pp. 301–04; T. Cavanagh, Public Sculpture of Liverpool, Liverpool, 1997, pp. 173–75, 186–90; T. Cavanagh, Public Sculpture of South London, Liverpool, 2007, pp. 7–9; D.A. Cross, Public Sculpture of Lancashire and Cumbria, Liverpool, 2017, pp. 127–28, 138–39; E. Morris and E. Roberts, Public Sculpture of Cheshire and Merseyside, Liverpool, 2012, pp. 83–84; G.T. Noszlopy, Public Sculpture of Birmingham, Liverpool, 1998, pp. 144–45; G.T. Noszlopy, Public Sculpture of Warwickshire, Coventry & Solihull, Liverpool, 2003, pp. 28–30; G.T. Noszlopy and F. Waterhouse, Public Sculpture of Herefordshire, Shropshire and Worcestershire, Liverpool, 2010, pp. 208–10, 213–16, 232–33, 257–58; G.T. Noszlopy and F. Waterhouse, Public Sculpture of Staffordshire and the Black Country, Liverpool, 2005, pp. 146–47;  J. Sankey, ‘Thomas Brock and the Critics’, unpublished PhD Thesis, University of Leeds, 2002 (copy held at the Henry Moore Institute, Leeds); J. Seddon et al, Public Sculpture of Sussex, Liverpool, 2014, pp. 74–75;  M. Stocker, ‘“A Great Man and a Great Imperialist”: Sir Thomas Brock’s Statue of Richard John Seddon’, Sculpture Journal, vol. I, 1997, pp. 45–50; P. Ward-Jackson, Public Sculpture of Historic Westminster. Volume 1, Liverpool, 2011, pp. 20–21, 22–24, 28–30, 106–08, 123–33, 139–41, 231–33, 321–23, 330–32; J. Winfrey, ‘Leeds City Square: T. Walter Harding and the realisation of a sculptural vision’, in Sculpting Art History. Essays in Memory of Benedict Read (eds. K. Eustace et al), London, 2013, pp. 218–33; Who Was Who 1916–1928.

Philip Ward-Jackson 2023

Brock, Thomas, Sir

Thomas Brock, c. 1903 (photo: James Russell & Sons;
public domain, via Wikimedia Commons)