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Public Statues and Sculpture Association

James Gamble (c.1835–1911)

Designer, painter and sculptor, born in Sheffield. He was, with Reuben Townroe and Godfrey Sykes, a student at the Sheffield School of Design, where one of his masters was Alfred Stevens. Shortly after Sykes’s move to London to work on the architectural decorations for the South Kensington Museum, both Gamble and Townroe were invited to join him as his assistants. Following Sykes’s early death in 1866, his two former assistants were appointed to jointly run the museum workshop, and over the ensuing years brought many of Sykes’s designs to completion throughout the museum. The two also collaborated on the exterior terracotta decoration of the Royal Albert Hall (1865–71). Gamble worked from a studio on the museum site until its demolition in 1875, afterwards relocating to 24 Rich Terrace, Old Brompton Road. The chief works for which he was sole or principal designer are the museum’s Centre Refreshment Room (1868); Sykes’s memorial (unveiled 1875, Weston Park, Sheffield); and two of the figures for Aston Webb’s new façade for the museum, John Henry Foley and Alfred Stevens, 1905. When he and Townroe were not working together on the museum’s projects, they assisted Stevens on his two great commissions, the decorations for Dorchester House and the Wellington Monument for St Paul’s Cathedral.

Bibliography: J. Bryant, Designing the V&A. The museum as a work of art (1857–1909), London, 2017; T. Cavanagh, Public Sculpture of Kensington and Chelsea with Westminster South-West, Watford, 2023, pp. 161, 163, 164, 166, 168, 169, 171;  Mapping Sculpture; C. Marsden, ‘Godfrey Sykes and his studio at the South Kensington Museum’, in M. Pye and L. Sandino (eds.), Artists Work in Museums: histories, interventions, subjectivities, Bath, 2013, pp. 48–62; S. Graves, ‘Sykes, Godfrey (1824–1866)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford, 2004; J. Physick, The Victoria and Albert Museum: The History of its Building, London, 1982; D. White and E. Norman, Public Sculpture of Sheffield and South Yorkshire, Liverpool, 2015, pp. 224–25, 231–34.

Terry Cavanagh November 2022