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Public Statues and Sculpture Association

Sir Henry Cheere (1703–1781)

Sculptor, the son of a Huguenot merchant residing in Clapham, south London. He was apprenticed to Robert Hartshorne. In 1726 he set up shop with Henry Scheemakers in St Margaret’s Lane, Westminster. The only monument on which the two sculptors are known to have collaborated is that to the Duke of Ancaster (d. 1728) at Edenham, Lincs. In 1734, Cheere was commissioned to produce three allegorical figures (Law, Physic and Poetry) and a statue of Queen Caroline for Queen’s College, Oxford, and in the same year completed the statue of William III for the Bank of England. By building up a circle of contacts among wealthy Huguenots and in the court circle of Frederick, Prince of Wales, Cheere offered serious competition to the immigrant sculptors, J.M. Rysbrack and P. Scheemakers. Between 1730 and 1738 Cheere profited from the presence in his workshop of L.-F. Roubiliac. The young Sir Robert Taylor was also apprenticed to him in this period. Perhaps the most ambitious of Cheere’s church monuments is that to the 19th Earl of Kildare in Christchurch Cathedral, Dublin (1746). A large proportion of the workshop output, however, took the form of less substantial memorials and chimneypieces, in which elegant rococo ornament and reliefs stand out against coloured marble backgrounds. Cheere avidly sought public offices in the Parish of Westminster, and was knighted in 1760. Besides his own workshop, he was in long-term partnership with his brother, John, who in 1739 had taken over the lead statuary business of the Nost family, at Hyde Park Corner.

Bibliography (updated 2024): M. Craske, ‘Contacts and Contracts: Sir Henry Cheere….’, in The Lustrous Trade, eds C. Sicca and A. Yarrington, London and New York, 2000; M. Craske and M. Baker, ‘Cheere, Sir Henry, first baronet’, ODNB, (2004), 2008; I. Roscoe et al, A Biographical Dictionary of Sculptors in Britain 1660–1851, New Haven and London, 2009, pp. 256–61; P. Ward-Jackson, Public Sculpture of the City of London, Liverpool, 2003, pp. xvii, xix, 25–27, 240.

Philip Ward-Jackson, 2003