Sculptor and author, she was the granddaughter of John, 4th Duke of Argyll, and grew up in an aristocratic Whig family with strong literary connections. As a child she was influenced by her father’s secretary, David Hume, who is thought to have prompted her first efforts in modelling in wax, and by her guardian, Horace Walpole, from whom she inherited the proto-Gothic Revival mansion Strawberry Hill, where she lived from 1797 to 1811. After receiving lessons in modelling from Giuseppe Ceracchi, and in carving from John Bacon I, she developed a severely neoclassical style, often signing her work in Greek. She made portrait busts in marble of many notable contemporaries, such as Sarah Siddons (1789), Charles James Fox (1812) and Lord Nelson (1803), presenting plaster busts of the last two subjects to Napoleon on her visit to Paris in 1802. Her statue of George III (1787–94) is in the General Register House, Edinburgh. Among her literary efforts was the picaresque novel, Belmour (1801, translated into French 1804), and she had strong connections with the theatre, creating a three-metre statue of Apollo for the Drury Lane Theatre (c.1792, now destroyed). She died in London in May 1828, and was buried with her sculptor’s tools and apron at the church in Sundbridge, Kent.
Bibliography: R. McKenzie, Public Sculpture of Edinburgh (2 vols), Liverpool, 2018, vol. 2, pp. 181–85, 512; I. Roscoe et al, A Biographical Dictionary of Sculptors in Britain 1660–1851, New Haven and London, 2009; A. Yarrington, ‘Damer [née Conway], Anne Seymour’, ODNB, 2008.
Ray McKenzie 2018
Anne Seymour Damer, Self-portrait, marble, c.1785–86, Vasari Corridor, Uffizi Galleries, Florence. Inscribed front of socle: ΑΝΝΑ. ΣΕΙΜΟΡΙΣ / ΔΑΜΕΡ / Η. ΕΚ. ΤΗΣ. ΒΡΕΤΤΑΝΙΚΗΣ. / ΑΥΤΗ. ΑΥΤΗΝ. ΕΠΟΙΕΙ. (‘Anne Seymour Damer from Britain, of herself by herself’). (Photo: Michalis Famelis, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons)