Sculptor. Born in Hackness, near Scarborough, Yorkshire, he trained in London under the sculptor, John Francis (1780–1861). He exhibited over 100 works, chiefly portrait busts, at the RA from 1845 to 1876. His public statues numbered over 40. 1856 was an important year for Noble, seeing the erection in Manchester of his memorial to the Duke of Wellington, and in Waterloo Place, London, of his statue of Sir John Franklin, the latter being one of the very few open-air monuments commissioned by the government in the Victorian period. His major Manchester and Salford public monuments began with Sir Robert Peel (Peel Park, Salford, 1852) and concluded with Oliver Cromwell (Manchester, 1875, removed to Wythenshawe Park). He provided statues of Peel in Tamworth (1852), Liverpool (St George’s Hall, 1854) and London (Parliament Square, 1876). His other London statues were of Sir James McGrigor (1865, Millbank, but since 2003 at the Royal Military College, Sandhurst), Sir James Outram (1871, Victoria Embankment) and the Earl of Derby (1874, Parliament Square). Statues of Prince Albert were commissioned from Noble for Manchester, Salford, Leeds and Bombay. His studio was described as ‘a manufactory of busts’. His funerary monuments included Sir John Franklin (Westminster Abbey, 1847), Archbishop Musgrave (York Minster, 1860) and the Earl of Derby (Knowsley, 1872). In this genre, recumbent effigies were one of his specialities, but memorials to the Officers and Men of the 77th Regiment in St Paul’s Cathedral, and to Christopher Pemberton, at Newton (Cambs.) figure distinctive attenuated angels in relief. Noble was assisted by Horace Montford, and by Joseph Edwards, who completed his unfinished works after his death. His widow presented his models to the Corporation of Newcastle. They were placed in Elswick Hall, but most were destroyed in the twentieth century.
Bibliography: Art Journal, September 1876, pp. 275–76 (obit.); T. Cavanagh, Public Sculpture of Kensington and Chelsea with Westminster South-West, Watford, 2023, pp. xvii, xviii, xxxvi, 220, 346, 474; T. Cavanagh, Public Sculpture of Liverpool, Liverpool, 1997, pp. 270–72; T. Cavanagh, Public Sculpture of South London, Liverpool, 2007, pp. 15–16, 50–52; D.A. Cross, Public Sculpture of Lancashire and Cumbria, Liverpool, 2017, pp. 103–05, 131–32; E. Morris and E. Roberts, Public Sculpture of Cheshire and Merseyside, Liverpool, 2012, pp. 66, 67, 81–83; G.T. Noszlopy and F. Waterhouse, Public Sculpture of Herefordshire, Shropshire and Worcestershire, Liverpool, 2010, pp. 16–18, 34–35, 102; G.T. Noszlopy and F. Waterhouse, Public Sculpture of Staffordshire and the Black Country, Liverpool, 2005, pp. 89, 158–60; I. Roscoe et al, A Biographical Dictionary of Sculptors in Britain 1660–1851, New Haven and London, 2009; J. Seddon et al, Public Sculpture of Sussex, Liverpool, 2014, pp. 37–38; P. Ward-Jackson, Public Sculpture of Historic Westminster. Volume 1, Liverpool, 2011, pp. 6–7, 192–94, 197–200, 308–11, 390–92; T. Wyke, Public Sculpture of Greater Manchester, Liverpool, 2004, pp. 38–40, 51–52, 102, 113–17, 152–54, 167–69, 177–79, 198–99, 325–26.
Philip Ward-Jackson 2023
Thomas Dewell Scott, Matthew Noble, engraving from the Illustrated London News, 8 July 1876 (photo: public domain, via Wikimedia Commons)