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Public Statues and Sculpture Association

Edward William Wyon (1811–1885)

Sculptor, the third son of Thomas Wyon I (1767–1830), chief engraver of the seals at the Royal Mint. He joined the Royal Academy Schools in 1829, on the recommendation of a Mr Cooper (not E.H. Baily, as Rupert Gunnis believed). In 1831 he began to exhibit wax portrait medallions and busts at the Royal Academy. Wyon worked for the Art Union of London, producing in 1842 its first sculpture offer, a reduction of John Flaxman’s St Michael and Satan, described by the Art-Union journal as a ‘glorious work’. Also for the Art Union of London he created a tazza, ‘modelled from a Greek design’, which was shown at the Great Exhibition in 1851. He modelled portrait busts and reliefs of scenes from Shakespeare, for interpretation in ‘statuary porcelain’ by Wedgwood. Wyon’s statue of Britomart (1856–61), for the Mansion House, London, marked his début as a monumental sculptor. In 1846 he produced a bronze statue of Richard Green, shipbuilder and philanthropist for East India Dock, London, and an extensive programme of architectural sculpture for the internal courtyard of Drapers’ Hall, in the City. In 1869, he produced figures of Galileo, Goethe and Laplace, for the University of London building in Burlington Gardens and in 1871–74, four figures seemingly representing the Seasons, in first-floor aedicules on the façade of the Criterion, Piccadilly Circus. Wyon executed a number of characterful reliefs for funerary monuments, including two in bronze for the monument to the Revd F.W. Robertson, in Brighton Cemetery (1853).

Bibliography: P. Atterbury (ed.), The Parian Phenomenon, Shepton Beauchamp, 1989; P. Atterbury, ‘Wyon family (per. c. 1760–1962)’, ODNB, (2004), 2018; S. Bradley and N. Pevsner, London 6: Westminster (The Buildings of England), New Haven and London, 2003, pp. 308, 451, 493;  R. Gunnis, Dictionary of British Sculptors 1660–1851, London, [1968], pp. 449–50; Mapping Sculpture; D. Merritt and F. Greenacre, with K. Eustace, Public Sculpture of Bristol, Liverpool, 2011, pp. 98–99, 103–05; I. Roscoe et al, A Biographical Dictionary of Sculptors in Britain 1660–1851, New Haven and London, 2009, pp. 1429–33; J. Seddon et al, Public Sculpture of Sussex, Liverpool, 2014, p. 26; P. Ward-Jackson, Public Sculpture of the City of London, Liverpool, 2003, pp. 207, 244, 251–52, 425, 436, 437.

Philip Ward-Jackson, 2003; revised, Terry Cavanagh, May 2024