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Public Statues and Sculpture Association

Lawrence Gahagan (c.1735–1820)

Sculptor. Born Lawrence Geoghegan in Ireland. In 1756 he won a premium from the Dublin Society ‘for a piece of sculpture’. Shortly after this he went to London, and anglicised the spelling of his name. In 1777 he was awarded a premium by the Society of Arts for a 2m-high relief of Alexander Exhorting his Troops. In 1801 he was employed on decorative work at Castle Howard, and in 1806 unsuccessfully submitted a model to the competition for the monument to William Pitt the Younger for Guildhall. In 1811, he made two colossal figures representing Isis and Osiris to serve as divides for the central window above the main entrance to William Bullock’s Egyptian Hall, Piccadilly (demolished 1905); these are now in the Museum of London. Gahagan made a speciality of busts and statuettes representing the celebrities of his time. Some of these were produced in editions and seem to have been available either in bronze or plaster. Gahagan also sculpted representations of topical events, including the Murder of Maria Bignell and the Assassination of Spencer Percival. He belonged to a numerous family of sculptors, the most successful member of which was probably his brother Sebastian, who sculpted the multi-figure monument to Sir Thomas Picton in St Paul’s.

Bibliography (updated 2024): I. Roscoe et al, A Biographical Dictionary of Sculptors in Britain 1660–1851, New Haven and London, 2009, pp. 490–93; P. Ward-Jackson, Public Sculpture of the City of London, Liverpool, 2003, pp. 175–76, 231–32.

Philip Ward-Jackson, 2003