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Public Statues and Sculpture Association

Conrad Dressler (1856–1940)

Sculptor and potter, born in London of German descent. He studied modelling under Lantéri at the National Art Training School, and also with Boehm and in France. He modelled a terracotta bust of Ruskin (Royal Academy 1885, no 2009) and in 1886 stayed with him at Coniston, receiving encouragement which influenced his stylistic development. Portrait busts were to be a major part of Dressler’s output; fine examples include William Morris, 1892, Art Workers’ Guild, London; The Artist’s Wife, Nita Maria Schonfeld Resch, 1898, painted terracotta, Victoria and Albert Museum; Marianne North, marble, Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. His architectural sculpture includes two relief panels in Ketton stone – Boy and Lanthorn and Lioness – for the porches of C.F.A. Voyseys’ 14 and 16 Hans Road, Kensington (1891–92) and two relief panels in Istrian stone for a series symbolising National Prosperity on St George’s Hall, Liverpool (1895). While still living at the family home at Glebe Place, Chelsea, Dressler met William de Morgan, who fired some of his early works. Dressler also set up his own foundry in Chelsea and carried out some cire perdu casting. In December 1893 he set up the Della Robbia Pottery at Birkenhead with Harold Rathbone. By 1897, he had moved to Marlow where he established the Medmenham Pottery which specialised in architectural tiles and large wall panels; it was here that he created the two faience friezes, The History of Hygiene, for Lever Brothers’ Sunlight Chambers, Dublin. He exhibited at the Royal Academy from 1883; in 1891 he was a founder member of the Chelsea Arts Club and was elected a member of the Art Workers’ Guild, and in 1905 was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of British Sculptors.

Bibliography: S. Beattie, The New Sculpture, New Haven and London, 1983; T. Cavanagh, Public Sculpture of Kensington and Chelsea with Westminster South-West, Watford, 2023, pp. 173–74; T. Cavanagh, Public Sculpture of Liverpool, Liverpool, 1997, pp. xvi, 261, 262; Mapping Sculpture; F. Miller, ‘A Sculptor-Potter: Mr Conrad Dressler, The Artist, 1900, pp. 169–76; R.P. Walker, ‘Conrad Dressler and the Medmenham Pottery’, The Journal of the Decorative Arts Society …, No. 18, 1994, pp. 50–60.

Terry Cavanagh November 2022