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Public Statues and Sculpture Association

John Hancock (1825/26–1869)

Sculptor. Hancock’s father was an assistant to Sir Humphrey Davy, but he died when his son was still young, having entrusted his family to the care of a brother living in Stoke Newington, London. This brother, Thomas Hancock, was the discoverer of the vulcanisation process for rubber. John studied briefly at the Royal Academy, and exhibited a statue of Geoffrey Chaucer in the Westminster Hall exhibition of 1844. In 1847 he became acquainted with Dante Gabriel Rossetti, and the influence of pre-Raphaelitism was clearly to be seen in his Beatrice, executed in 1850 and shown at the Great Exhibition the following year. A plaster version of this survives in the Victoria and Albert Museum, London. Important commissions in the City followed, for a statue entitled Penserosa for Mansion House in 1861, and for a series of reliefs for the National Provincial Bank in Bishopsgate (1865). Hancock seems to have experienced financial difficulties from the mid-1860s, and to have created no further work after 1865.

Bibliography (updated 2024): M. Greenwood, ‘Hancock, John’, ODNB, 2004; Mapping Sculpture; B. Read and J. Barnes (eds), Pre-Raphaelite Sculpture. Nature and Imagination in British Sculpture 1848–1914, London, 1991, passim; P. Ward-Jackson, Public Sculpture of the City of London, Liverpool, 2003, pp. 35, 38–39, 243, 244, 256.

Philip Ward-Jackson, 2003