Born near Macclesfield, Cheshire, the son a of quarry owner, he began carving busts and statuettes while assisting his father. With the support of a local clergyman, he moved to London in 1837, working as a studio assistant first to E. H. Baily, and later to M. L. Watson. In the meantime, he had enrolled at the Royal Academy Schools, winning silver medals in 1841, 1842 and 1844, and in 1843 his bust of Hebe was reproduced in a bronze edition by the Art Union of London for distribution as lottery prizes. In 1852 he settled in Rome, where he became a close associate of John Gibson, with whom he shared a passion for the severely antique style. His principal works in Rome include two marble reliefs for the Mausoleum of William Henry Miller of Craigentinny, Edinburgh, a marble group, A Greek Hero Leading a Bull to Sacrifice, and a study for Echo, the latter two being now in the Museum and Art Gallery at Salford. After his failure to secure any major commissions in Rome, he gambled everything on showing his relief of The Overthrow of Pharaoh from the Miller Mausoleum at the International Exhibition in London in 1862, but this too, despite attracting much critical acclaim, failed to win him any new commissions. According to the Art Journal, the ‘English public failed to comprehend the largeness of [his] manner’. In his disappointment, he returned to Rome, dying of dysentery the following year, and was buried in the Protestant Cemetery, where his grave is marked by one of his own marble lions.
Bibliography: R. McKenzie, Public Sculpture of Edinburgh (2 vols), Liverpool, 2018, vol. 1, pp. 91–98; E. Morris and E. Roberts, Public Sculpture of Cheshire and Merseyside, Liverpool, 2012, pp. xxiii, 138, 139, 256; I. Roscoe et al, A Biographical Dictionary of Sculptors in Britain 1660–1851, New Haven and London, 2009.
Ray McKenzie 2018