Skip to main content

Public Statues and Sculpture Association

John Steell (1779–1849)

Wood carver, gilder and print seller, and the father of Sir John Robert Steell. He was from Aberdeen, but moved with his family to London c.1806, and soon afterwards settled permanently in Edinburgh, where he had business premises successively at Low Terrace, Leith Street, Princes Street and Hanover Street. He became an organising member of the Incorporated Trades of the Calton in 1812, and its Convenor four years later, but in 1819 was declared bankrupt, leading to legal proceedings that dragged on until 1826. He is known to have carved the capitals in the Signet Library, Edinburgh, but apart from these, and his Royal Arms of George III on the Customs House at Leith, very little work by him can be identified today. He taught modelling at the School of Arts on Adam Square, Edinburgh, 1837–38.

Bibliography: R. Lieuallen, ‘A Sculptor for Scotland: the life and work of Sir John Robert Steell, RSA (1804–1891)’, unpublished PhD thesis, University of Edinburgh, 2002, p. 31; R. McKenzie, Public Sculpture of Edinburgh (2 vols), Liverpool, 2018, vol. 1, pp. 18–19, vol. 2, p. 501; Joe Rock’s Research Pages: ‘John Steell, father and son, sculptors’.

Ray McKenzie 2018