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Public Statues and Sculpture Association

George Whitfield Seale (c.1835–1900)

Sculptor born in Priston, Somerset, the younger son of John Seale, a mason and builder. While his older brother, John Wesley Seale (1825–1885), continued the family’s architectural sculpture business, George Whitfield Seale pursued an independent path. By the 1860s he seems to have been living in Lyndhurst, Hampshire, where, in William White’s church of St Michael and All Angels he carved ‘many varieties of leaves’ in the capitals, as well as ‘the pulpit, with its statues, including a vibrant St Michael’ (O’Brien et al, 2018, p. 373) and in 1869 was married to Mary Alexander. By 1871, however, he had, like his brother, moved to south London, and by 1881 at the latest was operating from an address in Brixton. His other work includes a series of panels (signed) illustrating the Arts and Sciences on Woodgate and Collcutt’s Library and Museum, Blackburn, Lancashire (1872–74); the carved tympanum and associated relief panels on William Waddington & Sons’ Atkinson Library and Art Gallery, Southport, Merseyside (1876–78); some of the decorative carving on Davis and Emmanuel’s City of London School (1881–82); and all the carving of the reredos in J.D. Sedding’s St Clement’s Church, Boscombe, Bournemouth (1882–83). The Builder (18 November 1882, p. 665) thought the reredos – designed by Sedding – a work of the highest quality: ‘We have had an opportunity of seeing, at the studio of its sculptor, Mr. G. W. Seale, Coldharbour-lane, Brixton, a reredos which is noteworthy not only on account of the elaborateness of its design and the excellence of its workmanship, but from the probability that it is the largest work of the kind executed in this country since the Reformation.’

Bibliography: The Builder, 18 November 1882, p. 665; T. Cavanagh, Public Sculpture of South London, Liverpool, 2007, pp. xiii, xiv; Mapping Sculpture; E. Morris and E. Roberts, Public Sculpture of Cheshire and Merseyside, Liverpool, 2012, pp. 204–05; C. O’Brien et al, Hampshire: South (The Buildings of England), London, 2018, pp. 149, 373; P. Ward-Jackson, Public Sculpture of the City of London, Liverpool, 2003, pp. 425, 426.

Terry Cavanagh December 2023