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Public Statues and Sculpture Association

Coade’s of Lambeth, Coade and Sealy (firm fl. 1769–1840)

Coade’s of Lambeth, a manufactory of artificial stone, was set up by Mrs Eleanor Coade in 1769. One of her advertisements precisely summed up the unique properties that made her product so successful: the stone, it claimed, has ‘a property peculiar to itself of resisting the frost and consequently of retaining that sharpness in which it excels every kind of stone sculpture’. This was not an inflated claim, as is attested by the good condition, even after nearly two hundred years, of much of the outdoor sculpture produced by her firm. It was for many years assumed that the Mrs Eleanor Coade referred to as the owner of the firm was the widow of George Coade (d. 1769), a wool merchant of Lyme Regis and Exeter. It has, however, been established by Alison Kelly that the owner was not the widow (1708–1796) but the daughter, also called Eleanor (1733–1821). It was known that the daughter never married and the confusion arose from contemporary references to her ‘Mrs’, a courtesy title for women in business whether they were married or not. Eleanor Coade had been born 3 June 1733 in Exeter. Following her father’s declaration of bankruptcy in 1759 the family moved to London. Eleanor soon established herself as a businesswoman and in 1769 purchased an artificial stone manufactory at Lambeth from Daniel Pincot, whom she retained for a short while as superintendent. He was replaced in 1771 by the sculptor John Bacon the Elder who for 28 years until his death in 1799 was to be not merely her manager but also her chief designer and modeller. Apart from the durability and relative cheapness of the artificial stone, the other principal ingredient in the firm’s success was that it employed as designers and modellers, in addition to Bacon, some of the finest sculptors of the day including (on an occasional basis) J.C.F. Rossi, John Flaxman and Thomas Banks. In turn, such high standards of design and manufacture led to the factory’s employment by many of the leading architects of their day, including Sir William Chambers, Robert Adam, James Wyatt, John Nash and Sir John Soane. In 1799 Eleanor Coade went into partnership with her cousin, John Sealy (1749–1813), and the firm operated thereafter as Coade and Sealy. On the death of Sealy, Coade took on William Croggon as manager, and he in turn purchased the company on Coade’s death in 1821. The firm continued until Croggon’s death in 1835, at which point his son Thomas Croggon succeeded him. There was, however, no longer such demand for artificial stone, and the moulds were finally sold off in 1843. Coade’s output was prolific, ranging from garden ornaments and architectural decoration through statues and monuments to what is perhaps its most ambitious and impressive work, the Nelson Pediment, designed by Benjamin West and modelled by Joseph Panzetta, for the Royal Naval College (formerly Hospital) at Greenwich, 1810–12.

Bibliography: T. Cavanagh, Public Sculpture of Kensington and Chelsea with Westminster South-West, Watford, 2023, pp. 272–73; T. Cavanagh, Public Sculpture of Leicestershire and Rutland, Liverpool, 2000, pp. 95–97, 122–23; T. Cavanagh, Public Sculpture of South London, Liverpool, 2007, pp. xi–xii, 88–90, 165–68, 223–24, 358–59, 378–80, 392; R. Cocke, Public Sculpture of Norfolk and Suffolk, Liverpool, 2013, pp. 103, 139, 256; D.A. Cross, Public Sculpture of Lancashire and Cumbria, Liverpool, 2017, p. 64; A. Kelly, Mrs Coade’s Stone, Upton-upon-Severn, Worcs., 1990; F. Lloyd et al, Public Sculpture of Outer South and West London, Liverpool, 2011, pp. 64–65, 123, 152, 237–38, 295–96, 297–98, 324; D. Merritt and F. Greenacre, with K. Eustace, Public Sculpture of Bristol, Liverpool, 2011, pp. 20–22, 171–72; E. Morris and E. Roberts, Public Sculpture of Cheshire and Merseyside, Liverpool, 2012, pp. 57, 77; G.T. Noszlopy, Public Sculpture of Birmingham, Liverpool, 1998, p. 38; G.T. Noszlopy and F. Waterhouse, Public Sculpture of Herefordshire, Shropshire and Worcestershire, Liverpool, 2010, pp. 163–68, 252–53; G.T. Noszlopy and F. Waterhouse, Public Sculpture of Staffordshire and the Black Country, Liverpool, 2005, pp. 11–12; I. Roscoe et al, A Biographical Dictionary of Sculptors in Britain 1660–1851, New Haven and London, 2009; J. Turner (ed.), The Dictionary of Art, London, 1996; P. Ward-Jackson, Public Sculpture of the City of London, Liverpool, 2003, pp. 23–24, 352–53.

Terry Cavanagh February 2023