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Public Statues and Sculpture Association

Percival (Percy) Herbert Portsmouth (1874–1953)

Sculptor specialising in portraits and figurative monuments. Born in Reading, he worked as an engineer before studying at the Royal College of Art, London, first under Walter Crane and Frank Morley Fletcher, and later, after a period in Brussels and Paris, under Édouard Lantéri. Fletcher became the first director of the newly established Edinburgh College of Art in 1908, and in the following year appointed Portsmouth as the head of the department of modelling. His most significant public commissions are the series of bronze figurative war memorials in the Highlands of Scotland: Elgin (1921), Lossiemouth (1922), Thurso (1923), Wick (1923) and Castletown (1925). Elected Associate Royal Scottish Academician (ARSA) in 1906, and RSA in 1923, he retired in 1929 and died in Hitchin, Hertfordshire.

Bibliography: G. Archer, The Glorious Dead: figurative sculpture of British First World War memorials, Kirkstead, 2009, p. 384; W.T. Johnston, Dictionary of Scottish Artists (c.2000), Scottish National Library, ref CD-ROM.585; P.J.M. McEwan, The Dictionary of Scottish Art and Architecture, Ballater, Aberdeenshire, 2004; R. McKenzie, Public Sculpture of Edinburgh (2 vols), Liverpool, 2018, vol. 1, pp. 101, 105, 108, 110–11, vol. 2, pp. 96–97; Scotsman, 4 May 1909, p. 6.

Ray McKenzie 2018