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Public Statues and Sculpture Association

Alexander Munro (1825–1871)

Sculptor. He was a dyer’s son from Inverness, and was early patronised by the Duke and Duchess of Sutherland. While studying at the Royal Academy in London, where he was accepted in 1847, Munro was drawn into the orbit of Dante Gabriel Rossetti and the newly formed Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood. His reputation was established with Paolo and Francesca, a group inspired by an episode in Dante’s Divine Comedy. This was exhibited in plaster at the Great Exhibition in 1851, and in marble at the Royal Academy in 1852. The marble version is now in the Birmingham City Art Gallery. Munro was rather averse to public commissions, but he created five statues of historical scientists for the Oxford Museum (1855–60), and commemorative statues of Herbert Ingram, founder of the Illustrated London News, for Boston, Lincs. (1862), and of James Watt for Birmingham (1868). He preferred literary subjects, and was also successful as a portraitist. Many of his portraits are in traditional bust form, but relief medallions were also one of his specialities. Amongst his most distinctive productions are his poeticised full-length portraits of children. From 1865 Munro, who suffered from tuberculosis, was forced to spend more and more time in France. There he did busts of the author, Prosper Merimée, the lawyer and politician, Odilon Barrot and the philosopher, Victor Cousin. Following his death, in 1872 he was honoured by a special exhibition at the Birmingham and Midland Institute.

Bibliography (updated 2023): T. Cavanagh, Public Sculpture of Kensington and Chelsea with Westminster South-West, Watford, 2023, pp. xiv, 298–301; G.T. Noszlopy, Public Sculpture of Birmingham (ed. J. Beach), Liverpool, 1998, pp. 32–33; B. Read and J. Barnes, Pre-Raphaelite Sculpture. Nature and Imagination 1848–1914, London, 1991, passim; P. Ward-Jackson, Public Sculpture of the City of London, Liverpool, 2003, pp. 75–76; P. Ward-Jackson, Public Sculpture of Historic Westminster. Volume 1, Liverpool, 2011, pp. 7–8; T. Wyke, Public Sculpture of Greater Manchester, Liverpool, 2004, pp. 288–89.

Philip Ward-Jackson 2011

Munro, Alexander

Alexander Munro with his wife, Mary (née Carruthers), 1863, photographed by Lewis Carroll
(photo: public domain)