Sculpture by Maker

Francis Legatt Chantrey - Biography

(1781-1841). Born at Norton, near Sheffield. He began work in a grocer’s shop, but was then apprenticed to a Sheffield carver and gilder. He received lessons in drawing from the mezzotint engraver Raphael Smith, who visited the carver’s workshop. Becoming disillusioned with wood-carving, Chantrey bought himself out of his apprenticeship and began to paint portraits for a living. He moved to London around 1809 and set up as a portrait sculptor. He had already carved one bust in Sheffield, and in 1811, when he exhibited a very characterful bust of Horne Tooke at the RA (Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge), Chantrey’s powers as a portraitist were recognised. In the same year, a full-length marble portrait of George III was commissioned from him by the Corporation of the City of London for the Council Chamber of the Guildhall (destroyed in bombing in 1940). Chantrey established his credentials as a sculptor of church monuments when he showed his moving family group, commemorating Marianne Johnes, at Spring Gardrens in 1812. The group was destined for Hafod in mid-Wales, where it was destroyed in the fire of 1932. Busts, statues and church monuments account for the bulk of Chantrey’s output. Virtually his only imaginary works are two Homeric reliefs, executed in 1828 for Woburn Abbey. Chantrey despised allegory, and his many church monuments are characterised by their direct appeal to sentiment, as in his celebrated Sleeping Children (1817), on the tomb of the children of Revd William Robinson in Lichfield Cathedral. His busts and statues are in a naturalistic style, and depict their subjects in tempered modern or ceremonial costume. His equestrian statues of George IV (Trafalgar Square, London), of Sir Thomas Munro (Madras) and of the Duke of Wellington (Royal Exchange, London), depart from precedent by the rejection of movement in the horse. Chantrey visited Paris in 1815 and Italy in 1819. He was elected ARA in 1815 and full RA in 1818. He was knighted in 1835. Sources: R. Gunnis, Dictionary of British Sculptors 1660--1851, London, 1968; M.Whinney, Sculpture in Britain 1530--1830 revised by J. Physick, London, 1988; ‘The Chantrey Ledger’ (ed. A. Yarrington), in Walpole Society 1991/2, vol. LVI. [CL2003]

The works of Francis Legatt Chantrey:

Bust of Lord Egremont, Brighton

Bust of Sir Joseph Banks, Petworth

John (Mad Jack) Fuller Memorial, Brightling

Monument to Arabella, Duchess of Dorset, Withyham

Monument to Elizabeth Mary Poyntz, Easebourne

Statue of George IV, Brighton

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