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Public Statues and Sculpture Association

Sir Richard Westmacott (1775–1856)

Sculptor. The son of Richard Westmacott I (1746/47–1808), he became one of the leading neoclassical sculptors of heroic monuments in England. He studied under his father before going to Italy in 1793, where he became a pupil of Canova. By 1795 he had been elected a Member of the Academy of Florence and had won the Gold Medal of the Academy of St Luke for his bas-relief, Joseph and his Brethren. He returned to England in 1797 and soon established his own studio, running a flourishing practice producing statues, busts, ideal works, chimney-pieces and funerary monuments. He exhibited at the RA from 1797 to 1839, was elected ARA in 1805 and RA in 1811, and was appointed Professor of Sculpture in 1827. He won commissions for two of the national monuments in St Paul’s commemorating heroes of the Napoleonic Wars – to Lieutenant General Sir Ralph Abercromby (1803–09) and to Vice-Admiral Cuthbert, Lord Collingwood (1811–17) – and sculpted memorials for Westminster Abbey to William Pitt the Younger (1807–15), and to Charles James Fox (1810–23). Westmacott also produced the first non-royal statues to be raised in the open-air; his London statues include those of Francis Russell, 5th Duke of Bedford (1809); Charles James Fox (1810–14); George Canning (1827–32); and Frederick Augustus, Duke of York and Albany (1829–34). For Birmingham and for Liverpool he made memorials to Lord Nelson, that in Liverpool an elaborate allegorical composition, created in collaboration with Matthew Cotes Wyatt. The success of his practice was exceeded only by that of Chantrey. Like Chantrey he owned his own foundry, thus managing to secure many prestigious public commissions, including the colossal bronze Achilles (1814–22), erected in Hyde Park as a monument to the Duke of Wellington. Westmacott was knighted in 1837. His last major work was the multi-figure group, entitled the Progress of Civilisation, in the pediment of the British Museum (1847–51).

Bibliography (updated 2023): M. Busco, Sir Richard Westmacott. Sculptor, Cambridge, 1994; T. Cavanagh, Public Sculpture of Kensington and Chelsea with Westminster South-West, Watford, 2023, pp. xxviii–xxix, xxxii, 291–94; T. Cavanagh, Public Sculpture of Liverpool, Liverpool, 1997, pp. 51–55, 103–05; E. Morris and E. Roberts, Public Sculpture of Cheshire and Merseyside, Liverpool, 2012, p. 213; G.T. Noszlopy, Public Sculpture of Birmingham (ed. J. Beach), Liverpool, 1998, pp. 116–17; G.T. Noszlopy and F. Waterhouse, Public Sculpture of Staffordshire and the Black Country, Liverpool, 2005, p. 235 (sculptor here erroneously referred to as ‘Sir Richard Westmacott the Elder‘); 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. 15, 155–56, 158, 168–69; P. Ward-Jackson, Public Sculpture of Historic Westminster. Volume 1, Liverpool, 2011, pp. 60, 61, 81–84, 163–66, 190–92, 385–88.

Philip Ward-Jackson 2011

Westmacott, Richard, Sir

James Thomson (also Thompson), after J. Derby, Sir Richard Westmacott, stipple engraving, published 1 January 1823 by Thomas Goff Lupton; NPG D8274 © National Portrait Gallery, London