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Public Statues and Sculpture Association

John Henry Foley (1818–1874)

Sculptor. Born in Dublin. His elder brother, Edward, preceded him in the sculptor’s profession. J.H. Foley entered the Royal Dublin Society’s School in 1831. He became a student at the Royal Academy in London in 1835. In 1839, his Death of Abel and Innocence were favourably received at the Royal Academy exhibition, and in the following year the Earl of Ellesmere commissioned a group of Ino and Bacchus. Following the exhibition of Youth at the Stream at the Westminster Hall Exhibition of 1844, Foley received commissions for statues of Hampden (1847) and Selden (1853) for the Houses of Parliament. During the 1850s he produced two of the most highly praised statues in the series commissioned for the Egyptian Hall of the Mansion House, Egeria (1853–55) and Caractacus (1856–59). After the death of Prince Albert, Foley created for Cambridge University a memorial statue of Albert (1866), now in the village of Madingley, Cambs. When the sculptor Marochetti, who had been given the commission for the statue of the prince for the Albert Memorial, died in 1867, the commission was given to Foley. His colossal gilt bronze statue of the prince was completed after Foley’s death by his pupil, Thomas Brock. Foley also sculpted the allegorical group, ‘Asia’, for the memorial. For his birthplace, Dublin, Foley produced the ambitious monument to Daniel O’Connell (1866). His equestrian statue of Viscount Hardinge (1858) for Calcutta was described by the Art Journal as ‘a masterpiece of art’. A later equestrian statue, also for Calcutta, of Sir James Outram (1864) was more complex and dynamic in its movement. Foley introduced a degree of naturalistic sensuality into the sculptural idiom of the day, without relaxing compositional control. He became a full RA in 1858.

Bibliography. T. Cavanagh, Public Sculpture of Kensington and Chelsea with Westminster South-West, Watford, 2023, pp. xvii, xviii, xix, xx, xxiii, xxxvii, 164, 205–06, 322–27, 399, 401, 402–03, 424–25, 428, 429–30, 431, 432–33, 434, 436–37; T. Cavanagh, Public Sculpture of Liverpool, Liverpool, 1997, pp. 186–90; D.A. Cross, Public Sculpture of Lancashire and Cumbria, Liverpool, 2017, pp. 136–37; R. McKenzie, Public Sculpture of Glasgow, Liverpool, 2002, pp. 136–39; E. Morris and E. Roberts, Public Sculpture of Cheshire and Merseyside, Liverpool, 2012, pp. 219–20; P. Murphy, ‘John Henry Foley”, in Sculpture 1600–2000. Art and Architecture of  Ireland, Vol. III, Dublin, New Haven and London, 2014; G.T. Noszlopy, Public Sculpture of Warwickshire, Coventry & Solihull, Liverpool, 2003, p. 48; G.T. Noszlopy, Public Sculpture of Birmingham (ed. J. Beach), Liverpool, 1998, pp. 142–43; B. Read, ‘John Henry Foley’, Connoisseur, August 1974; I. Roscoe et al, A Biographical Dictionary of Sculptors in Britain 1660–1851, New Haven and London, 2009; J.T. Turpin, ‘The Career and Achievement of John Henry Foley, Sculptor (1818–1874)’, Dublin Historical Record, Vol. XXII, No. 2, March 1979, and No. 3, June 1979; P. Usherwood et al, Public Sculpture of North-East England, Liverpool, 2000, pp. 22–24; P. Ward-Jackson, Public Sculpture of the City of London, Liverpool, 2003, pp. 243, 244, 246, 250–51; P. Ward-Jackson, Public Sculpture of Historic Westminster. Volume 1, Liverpool, 2011, pp. 314, 341–42, 367–69, 392–95, 399; T. Wyke, Public Sculpture of Greater Manchester, Liverpool, 2004, pp. 378–79.

Philip Ward-Jackson 2023

Foley, John Henry

John Henry Foley, photographed by Ernest Edwards, as published in Lovell Reeve, Portraits of Men of Eminence in Literature, Science and Art, vol. I, London, 1863 (photo: public domain, via Wikimedia Commons)