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Public Statues and Sculpture Association

Robert William Sievier (1794–1865)

Sculptor and engraver. He was born in London and developed early on a talent for draughtsmanship, the silver medal he won in 1812 from the Society of Arts encouraging him to train as an engraver, firstly under John Young and then Edward Scriven. In 1818 he entered the Royal Academy Schools and produced a large number of stipple engravings after a wide variety of artists ranging from Hans Holbein to William Etty. It was simply a desire to improve his knowledge of anatomy that led him to study under Joshua Brookes, the anatomical lecturer, and to learn to model in clay, but this resulted in his giving up engraving in about 1823 and turning to sculpture full time. His talent for seizing a likeness earned him a great many commissions for portraits. His busts include the Lord Chancellor, 1st Earl Eldon (1824); Sir Thomas Lawrence (1830, Soane Museum, London); Albert, Prince Consort (1842, Royal Collection); and Frederick William IV, King of Prussia (untraced). Memorial statues include Edward Jenner (1825, Gloucester Cathedral) and 3rd Earl Harcourt (1832, St Michael, Stanton Harcourt, Oxfordshire). Among his few ideal subjects is Musidora 1830, now National Museum of Wales, Cardiff. Sievier exhibited at the Royal Academy 1822–44, at the British Institution 1825–31, and at the Society of British Artists 1829–43. He became a director of the General Cemetery Company, Kensal Green Cemetery, in 1832, designing not only his own family monument (1830s), but also one to the quack doctor, John St John Long (d. 1834). In 1841 he was elected a fellow of the Royal Society and by 1845 had given up sculpture to pursue his lifelong interest in scientific matters and to manage a rubber works in Holloway, north London.

Bibliography: T. Cavanagh, Public Sculpture of Kensington and Chelsea with Westminster South-West, Watford, 2023, pp. 203–04, 206–08, 389; M. Greenwood, ‘Sievier, Robert William (1794–1865)’, ODNB, Oxford, 2004; R. McKenzie, Public Sculpture of Edinburgh (2 vols), Liverpool, 2018, vol. 2, p. 235; I. Roscoe et al, A Biographical Dictionary of Sculptors in Britain 1660–1851, New Haven and London, 2009; P. Ward-Jackson, Public Sculpture of Historic Westminster. Volume 1, Liverpool, 2011, pp. 276, 278, 279.

Terry Cavanagh November 2022