Skip to main content

Public Statues and Sculpture Association

Francis (‘Frank’) Wollaston Moody (1824–1886)

A designer, painter and teacher, he was the son of the rector of Chartham, Kent, and was educated at Eton College. He then spent a year studying with the painter C.W. Cope RA before entering the National Art Training School (NATS), South Kensington. In 1863, Moody’s talent brought him to the attention of Richard Redgrave who introduced him to Godfrey Sykes and he was taken on as an assistant. Moody’s work was thereafter much influenced by Sykes and Sykes’s master, Alfred Stevens, and he followed a similar, but distinctive, style based on the art of the Italian Renaissance. In 1865, he designed the South Kensington Museum’s Ceramic Staircase. He was appointed Instructor in Decorative Art at NATS and some of the more advanced students were selected to assist him in his own work for the decoration of the museum and its local branches, for example, at Bethnal Green, where the students executed the mosaic panels to Moody’s designs. In 1871, Henry Cole commissioned Moody to prepare designs in sgraffito for the new Science Schools building (1871–72), its success leading to similar work on the National Training School for Music (1874–75). Moody was, by all accounts, a brilliant and inspirational teacher and in 1873, published a successful volume on decorative design, Lectures and Lessons on Art. He exhibited occasionally, from 1850 to 1877, at the Royal Academy, the British Institution and the Suffolk Street Gallery.

Bibliography: The Athenaeum, 21 August 1886, p. 249; T. Cavanagh, Public Sculpture of Kensington and Chelsea with Westminster South-West, Watford, 2023, pp. 328–29; O. Gibbons, ‘An Art Teacher: the late F.W. Moody’, Magazine of Art, 1893, pp. 404–08; 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; J. Physick, The Victoria and Albert Museum: The History of its Building, London, 1982, passim.

Terry Cavanagh November 2022