Tuesday, October 01, 2013

A Ledbury sculpture by the Thornycrofts

click photo to enlarge
Thomas Thornycroft (1815-1885) and Mary Thornycroft (neé Francis) (1814-1895), were husband and wife sculptors. They met when Thomas was an assistant to Mary's father, the sculptor John Francis (1780-1861). Their work can be seen at many London locations, but like a lot of public sculptors of the Victorian period, familiarity with their work often doesn't bring recognition of the person (or people) who executed it.

One of the best known works by the Thornycrofts (sometimes John was principally responsible, at other times it was Mary) is the group representing Commerce on the Albert Memorial, though George Gilbert Scott, the architect responsible for the overall design of the Memorial, was critical of both the concept and composition. Another prominent London piece is Boadicea and her Daughters, a bronze of the queen of the Iceni tribe in her chariot, near Westminster Pier by the River Thames. The couple received commissions for civic pieces from many cities as well as for the royal family. Mary completed several busts and statues of Queen Victoria's children.

I recently discovered that the Thornycrofts were responsible for a memorial in Ledbury church, Herefordshire. This marble sculpture shows a sleeping child watched over by two angels. It commemorates the death of a child in the following words:

John Hamilton, the beloved infant son of John Martin and
Maria Henrietta, his wife.
Born April 23rd, 1850. Died March 18th, 1851

The work was apparently conceived by Mary Thornycroft and sculpted by her husband. It is a touching piece and one that was thought of a sufficiently high standard to be shown at the Great Exhibition in 1851.

photograph and text © Tony Boughen

Camera: Sony RX100
Mode: Aperture Priority
Focal Length: 10.4mm (28mm - 35mm equiv.)
F No: f1.8
Shutter Speed: 1/30
Exposure Compensation:  -0.3 EV
Image Stabilisation: On