Memorials of Francis Chantrey RA Sculptor in Hallamshire and Elsewhere is in Books About Sculptors.
Memorials of Francis Chantrey RA Sculptor in Hallamshire and Elsewhere was written by John Holland and published in 1851.
Memorials of Francis Chantrey RA Sculptor in Hallamshire and Elsewhere Part IV The Sculptor in Sheffield
"Those who wish to trace the return of English Sculpture from the foreign artificial and allegorical style, to its natural and original character — from cold and conceited fiction to tender and elevated truth-will find it chiefly in the history of Francis Chantrey (38)."- Blackwood's Magazine, April, 1820.
To Norton, as the birth-place of Chantrey, I have already adverted at length, and to that village, as his selected burial-place, I shall return hereafter; meanwhile, it has been shown that Hallamshire had a parental claim on the Painter — as the facts of this chapter will prove it had on the Sculptor also.
Ridiculous as it would be to look for the germ of his genius in any of those fictions of boyhood which I have previously mentioned, it does not seem equally immaterial here to remark, that at the time when Ramsay's apprentice first began to try his hand at modelling, there was not perhaps a large town in England that afforded fewer examples or incentives to such a pursuit than Sheffield. Three recumbent figures, and one kneeling effigy, in the "Shrewsbury Chapel," at the Parish Church, comprised the monumental statuary-probably the work of Italian artists; while out-of-doors there were a respectably executed figure of Justice, by Waterworth, of Doncaster, at the head of the Shambles; a spirited profile of Shakspeare, with some dramatic symbols, on the pediment of the Theatre, executed by a wandering stranger of the name of Renilowe; a poor exhibition of the "Norfolk Arms" on the old Hospital Chapel, the joint work of one of the masons-Peter Skinner, of Gleadless and a rambling genius called "Jem Officer," from York; a small lugubrious lion over the door of the Assay Office, by H. Mozley, once an employé of Ramsay's; and, best of all, an "Angel, "in terra-cotta, with a brazen trumpet, as a sign on the inn and in the street denominated there from — the early work of Rossi, who, while a youth, lived with his father in a house opposite. Of course our young aspirant saw what works of the chisel were to be seen at Wentworth House — the present noble gallery at Chatsworth did not then exist : indeed, with the writer in the Atlas, I "happen to know that the few collections of ancient sculpture which were within his reach while he lived in the country were visited by him, and that in particular he paid two visits to Newby, whilst still a young man and still younger artist, and came away deeply impressed by the works of sculpture in that man sion." Perhaps it should be added, as somewhat remarkable, that, with the exception of the figures of the Marquis of Rockingham at Wentworth, and the Earl of Strafford at Stainbro ', there did not at the period of Chantrey's apprenticeship-nor am I aware that there does at this day -- exist a single standing life-size statue, of modern man or woman, in marble or gritstone, within doors or without, either in Sheffield or within the circuit of more than a hundred miles around the town.
When, and wherefore then, did Chantrey absolutely determine to abandon painting for sculpture ? These are questions which have repeatedly been asked and answered. But most of the printed notices on this subject are more ingenious than satisfactory-accident having apparently had as much to do with the matter as abstract reasoning. Undoubtedly his tastes for the sister arts may be said to have been twin-born, and for a time, mutu ally cherished. We have already seen how long and largely, and with what measure of success and promise, he exercised the brush-even in Sheffield perhaps, it may be said, because this was the only immediate source of income.
Mr. Rhodes — who knew Chantrey well-has a graphic passage descriptive of the perplexity and the embarrasment of the young enthusiast soon after he became an attendant at the Royal Academy. Leaving the students ' room, which was then at Somerset House, in a state of bewildering indecision as to the branch of profession finally to be adopted, he returned to his own apartments— "spread his canvass before him, prepared his pallet, took up his pencils, began to paint; landscape, portrait, and history by turns attracted his notice, and mingled with his contemplations; but the sculpture of the academy was continually before him, and the images it presented became associated with his thoughts, "& c. Mr. Rhodes adds that, during this critical crisis, the young student visited and re-visited the Elgin marbles :-"this influenced his choice, and determined him to become a sculptor." This is all, no doubt, very true, in a general sense; but if we apply the test of dates, it will be found that what at first sight seems only like the record of an after noon's struggle between the rival fascinations of Phidian and Apellean art, is really by the context shown to comprehend between three and four years!
Of the nature and progress of his early studies in London, it is not my purpose to speak; I have seen nothing that he produced at that time beyond a spread eagle, about four inches high, in wax, and a small hand and arm, formerly belonging to his mother at Norton, in clay; also a spirited study of an ancient head, in the possession of Richard Bayley, Esq., of Castle Dyke; and a child's head, in the possession of Thomas Stirling, Esq., at Shef field. This early work happened, when I last saw it, to be placed beside some fine specimens of the most ancient sculptures in the world — a couple of slabs from the mounds of Ninevah! But there is evidence in what follows, coincidently with the earliest date of any existing life-model from his hand, that he was consolidating the success of the student into the confidence of the artist; for in the Sheffield Iris of October 18, 1804, appeared the following advertisement:
SCULPTURE AND PORTRAIT PAINTING. "F. Chantrey respectfully solicits the patronage of the ladies and gentlemen of Sheffield and its environs, in the above arts during the recess of the Royal Academy, which he hopes to merit from the specimens he has to offer to their attention at his apartments, No. 14, Norfolk-street. As models from life are not generally attempted in the country, F. C. hopes to meet the liberal sentiments of an impartial public."
A lover of the arts, and having a head admirably adapted for the modeller's purpose, William Younge, Esq., M.D., of Sheffield, sat to Chantrey for a bust; for this work, which, when finished, was deservedly admired, as presenting something more than the mere promise of excellence, the artist received twenty guineas. It is at present in the possession of John Jeeves, Esq., of Sharrow Grange.
Two other busts were modelled at this period, one of the artist's early friend Mr. Hunt, a teacher of drawing, in Sheffield; and one of James Wheat, Esq., solicitor, of the same place, who died in January, 1805. The exhibition of these works, along with that which will immediately demand a more extended notice, may almost be said to have formed an era of art in Sheffield, as well as in the history of the artist himself.
It was during Chantrey's professional visit to Sheffield at this time, that an opportunity occurred for the exercise of his skill, upon which his destiny as a sculptor may be said at that moment to have depended. The Rev. James Wilkinson, the venerated vicar of Sheffield, occasionally spent some time at his family mansion at Boroughbridge, and here he died on Friday, the 18th January, 1805, in the 75th year of his age. The late Hall Overend, surgeon, a zealous friend of Chantrey's, being in the neighbourhood at the time, went directly to Boroughbridge, sought and obtained permission for the young artist to take a cast of the face of the deceased. On reaching Sheffield, and communi cating this intelligence to Chantrey, he immedi ately borrowed a horse, and early on the Sunday morning was on his way northward, notwithstand ing the heavy snow that was falling at the time. He happily accomplished his object, at the expense of a ninety miles ' ride, at the worst season of the year -- a feat of horsemanship which few of the gentle devotees of the pencil or the chisel would be very willing to imitate, either on speculation or "commission."
Mr. Wilkinson was highly respected, as he deserved to be, by his parishioners; and the sagacity and activity of the Sculptor, will appear to be at least justified by the fact, that the lapse of a few days, not only produced the announcement of public mourning, but of a mezzotinto print of the late vicar, by J. R. Smith, Chantrey's master in crayons, from a painting by Needham, now in the Cutlers ' Hall; a medal, by Westwood, father of the present celebrated entomologist of that name, who was working as a die-sinker at Sheffield. This bust, along with those of Dr. Younge and Mr. Hunt, formed Chantrey's earliest contribution of models to the exhibition of the Royal Academy. They were much admired in London, and one of them was destined to a still more distinguished celebrity.
On the 5th of August, 1805, a highly respectable party met at the Cutlers ' Hall, Sheffield, to celebrate the late vicar's birth-day, their main object being to "collect the sense of the gentlemen assembled on the propriety of erecting a monument, by public subscription, to the memory of a man who, for half a century, had dedicated his talents almost exclusively to the service of the town and neighbourhood." The project was warmly taken up, a committee formed, at the head of which was Dr. Brown — a name ever to be mentioned with honour, as one of the most zealous patrons of dur "General Infirmary" —and, presently, the names of more than one hundred subscribers were an nounced.
Before, however, any final decision had been come to by the monument committee as to the artist to be employed, the arrival of news of the death of Nelson and the victory of Trafalgar threw the whole country into a paroxysm of loyalty, in which the "town trustees "of Sheffield so deeply participated, that they advised the inhabitants "to forbear illuminating their houses on that occasion," as the corporate bodies of the town had it in con templation to raise a subscription for erecting in honour of the fallen hero "a naval pillar." This patriotic project, although not eventually carried out, was enthusiastically advocated by Mr. William Carey, a well-known connoiseur in art, who was at that time, as already mentioned, on a visit at Shef field as a picture-dealer. In a long letter which was published in the Iris, Nov. 21, 1805, he says of the good people of Hallamshire :-"Fortunately they possess in Roche Abbey quarries a hard and durable stone,1 and in Mr. Chantrey a sculptor, every way capable of fulfilling their intentions, and of reflecting credit on their choice. This young artist, whose modesty and zeal for improvement are equal to his talents, was born so immediately in the vicinity of Sheffield, that its townsmen will probably, at no distant period, be proud to claim him as a native of their town. The power of his hand in executing what he sees, and the readiness f his eye in catching a likeness, are exemplified in his admirable busts of the Rev. J. Wilkinson, the late vicar, and of Dr. Younge. There is a cold and timorous caution which can behold a man of genius struggling in obscurity, without daring to bear testimony to his merits. It requires a purer taste, an independent understanding, and something of a kindred spirit to discover the powers of a young artist in his first attempts. Chantrey had the good fortune, in Dr. Younge, to meet with an amateur whom nature and education, the classic acquire ments of travel, and a judicious survey of the treasures of art in Italy, have qualified to appre ciate his talents, and to bring forward his abilities to the public eye. It may not be improper to observe, that Chantrey has not fallen into the habit of servilely copying the forms of nature. His good taste and accurate reflections early enabled him to observe that a sculptor must take a certain license, owing to his being confined to a single cold colour and to hard materials, which are too apt to fall into acute angles and unpleasant lines. Hence this young artist appears, by the light of his own mind, to have adopted a large and liberal outline and a fulness of contour, after the manner of the best sculptors, who most successfully imitated nature by going a little beyond her. It is this which gives to the bust of Dr. Younge, and to the other busts of this zealous artist, something of an historical dignity and a character of the antique, of which he is so passionate an admirer." Mr. Carey recommended that a column, surmounted with a colossal statue, should be erected on the site of the old Town Hall, at the church gates; adding— "In executing the statue, Mr. Chantrey would possess a noble opportunity of signalizing his talents; and should he be chosen to execute the monument, the spirit of prophecy, at this moment, involuntarily cries aloud that the work will equally commemorate the taste and spirit of Sheffield, the talents of the artist, with the victories and death of the immortal hero of Aboukir, Copenhagen, and Trafalgar."
Note 1. It is worthy of remark, that the stone mentioned by Mr. Carey as so suitable for carving is almost identical, in source and quality, with that selected nearly half a century later for the erection of the new Houses of Parliament
Memorials of Francis Chantrey RA Sculptor in Hallamshire and Elsewhere Part V London Life and Works
In 1812, Chantrey (30) exhibited busts of Johnes of Hafod, of Curran, of Stothard, and of Northcote. In 1813, a bust of Cline, for the Royal College of Surgeons, and six others, including Granville Sharp. In 1814, busts of the King, of Professor Playfair, and a colossal head of the Duke of Wellington. In 1815, a bust of James Watt. In 1816, busts of the Marquis of Anglesey, Sir Everard Home, and Sir Joseph Banks. In 1817, ( then newly made an associate of the Royal Academy, ) "The Sleeping Children, "( the monument now in Lichfield Cathedral, ) and busts of Nollekens (74), Sir James Clarke, Bone the enamelist, Bird the painter, and Hookham Frere.
Montgomery, whose opinions I quote the more freely, not merely because he has himself looked upon sculpture with a poet's eye, but also because he oft endeavoured to excite a similar taste in his gifted friend-says, "Nothing in sculpture is truly excellent but that which is pre-eminently so, because nothing less than the most successful strokes of the happiest chisel can powerfully affect the spectator, fix him in dumb astonishment, touch his heart strings with tender emotion, stir thought from its depths into ardent and earnest exercise. I appeal to all who hear me, whether, among a hundred of the monuments in our cathedrals, and the statues in our public places, they ever met with more than one or two that laid hold of their imagination, so as to haunt it both in retirement and in society ? ""Such are the Apollo Belvidere, the Venus de Medici, and other inestimable relics of antiquity; such the Moses and David of Michael Angelo; and such— ( to give an English example worthy to be named with these, judging solely by the power which it exercises over the purest and most universal of human sympathies, -- sympathies which can no more be bribed by artifice than they can help yield ing to the impulse of nature ) -such, I say, is the simple memorial by our own Chantrey, in Lichfield Cathedral, of two children that were ‘lovely in their lives, and in death are undivided. Of these specimens, it may be affirmed, that they have shown how the narrow bonds of vulgar precedent may be left as far behind as a star in the heavens leaves a meteor in the air."1 There is not, indeed, a more exquisite group in the whole range of modern sculpture than Chantrey's "Two Children" in marble. The sisters lie asleep in each others arms in the most unconstrained and graceful repose. The snowdrops which the youngest had plucked are undropped from her hand, and both are images of artless beauty, and innocent and unaffected race. Such was the press to see these children in the London Exhibition, that there was no getting near them : mothers, with tears in their eyes, lingered, and went away, and returned; while Canova’s now far-famed figures of Hebe and Terpsichore stood almost unnoticed by their side. Chantrey modelled two other figures of this class, viz., a "Sleeping Child," the daughter of Sir Thos. Dyke Acland; and a "Reposing Infant," for Mr. Boswell, of Auchinleck.
Note 1. "Lectures on Poetry," p. 20.
"Envy doth merit as its shade pursue," says the poet; and that the brilliant career of Chantrey should form no exception to the bearing of this trite and truthful axiom, his claim to the merit of the "Sleeping Children," in Lichfield Cathedral, has been repeatedly attacked. Before the death of the Sculptor, a report ( on what ground originat ing will presently be shown ) was circulated, attri buting the design of the monument to Stothard. This notion was so expressly repudiated by Mr. Rhodes, who was present with Chantrey at Ashbourne, when he made the first rude pencil sketch of the figures, that I had thought the question had been finally set at rest. While, however, this work is passing through the press, an individual named in a preceding page comes forward in print, and says :-"The Italian artist died some few years since, who told me, as he had told numbers of other persons, that the composition, the model, and the work in marble, were all three his doing. The manner in which Sir F. Chantrey behaved to him, his want of liberality in not confessing whence he had the design, and the daring to call the work his own, affected this poor helping sculptor deeply."
This was too much; and a reclamation of credit for the original mistake, was made by Mr. Peter Cunningham, who, while denying the claim of, or on behalf of the late Mr. F. A. Legé to anything more than having carved the monument, a workman, adds— "The sketch from which Chantrey wrought was given to me by my father a few months before his death, and is now suspended on the wall of the room in which I write. It is a pencil sketch, shaded with Indian ink, and is very Stothard-like and beautiful. It wants, however, a certain sculp tural grace, which Chantrey gave with a master feeling; and it wants the snow-drops in the hand of the younger sister -- a touch of poetic beauty suggested by my father." Had the matter rested here, the full and fair claims of the Sculptor to the merit of one of his most celebrated works would have been rendered apocryphal; but, happily, the very same page of the periodical1 which contains Mr. Peter Cunningham's statement, presents one also from Mr. Edward Hawkins, which so explicitly and satisfactorily establishes Chantrey's credit as the original designer of the "Sleeping Children," that it may be hoped the question can never be revived again. At all events, Mr. Hawkins states the case as I ever understood it; and as this far famed monument, which is so intimately, and it may be said, universally identified with the name and fame of Chantrey, has been so repeatedly made the theme of flagrant misrepresentation-not in all cases, it is to be feared, solely on the ground of honest "historic doubt," — I should have felt my self guilty of something very like injustice to the memory of the Sculptor, if I had neglected this opportunity of rescuing it from unmerited reproach. To return. The Royal Academy at length admitted him of their number; and, in 1818, Chantrey was an Esquire and an R. A.
Note 1. Notes and Queries, ii. July, 1850, p. 94.—Mr. Hawkins says : -- "Dining one day alone with Chantrey in January, 1833, our conversation accidentally turned upon some of his monu. ments, and amongst other things he told me the circumstances connected with the monument at Lichfield to the two children of Mrs. Robinson. As I was leaving Chantrey, I asked if I might write down what he had told me; his reply was— Certainly; indeed, I rather wish you would. Before I went to bed, I wrote down what I now send you; I afterwards showed it to Chantrey, who acknowledged it to be correct.-Nicholson, the drawing master, taught Mrs. Robinson and her two children. Not long after the death of Mr. Robinson, the eldest child was burnt to death; and a very short time afterwards the other child sickened and died. Nicholson called on Chantrey, and desired him to take a cast of the child's face, as the mother wished to have some monument of it. Chantrey immediately repaired to the house, made his cast, and had a most affecting interview with the unhappy mother. She was desirous of having a monument to be placed in Lichfield Cathedral, and wished to know whether the cast just taken would enable Chantrey ake a tolerable likeness of her lost treasure ? After reminding her how uncertain all works of art were in that respect, he assured her he hoped to be able to accomplish her wishes. She then conversed with him upon the subject of the monument, of her distressed feelings at the accumulated losses of her husband and her two only children in so short a space of time; expatiated upon their characters, and her great affection; and dwelt much upon her feelings wben, before she retired to bed, she had usually contemplated them when she hung over them locked in each other's arms asleep. While she dwelt upon these recollections it occurred to Chantrey that the representation of this scene would be the most appro priate monument; and, as soon as he arrived at home, he made a small model of the two children, nearly as they were afterwards executed, and as they were universally admired. As Mrs. Robin son wished to see a drawing of the design, Chantrey called upon Stothard, and employed him to make the requisite drawing from the small model. This was done; and, from this circumstance, originated the story from those envious of Chantrey's rising fame, that he was indebted to Stothard for all the merit of the original design."
Orders now crowded in upon him as they were never known to crowd before upon a British sculptor. To busts and portrait statues, more than he could well execute, were added orders for poetic figures, left to his own selection, from the Prince Regent, the Duke of Bedford, the Duke of Devonshire, Lord Egremont, Lord Yarborough, Lord Dartmouth, and Jesse Watts Russell. But he still adhered to busts and portrait statues, and left poetic figures to hours of leisure, longed for, perhaps, but never, alas! to come to him.
In 1818, he exhibited a bust of John Rennie, the engineer, one of his most admirable heads, and that exquisite little statue at Woburn of Lady Louisa Russell, the present Marchioness of Abercorn. The child stands on tiptoe, with a face of the most exquisite and arch expression, proud with delight of the dove which she fondles in her bosom. All who have been at Woburn will recollect this little figure; but the trays of the Italian boys have given it a wider, and only its deserved celebrity.
In 1819, Chantrey (37) exhibited the sitting figure of Dr. Anderson, for Madras, which has been pronounced "the very best of his statues, "1 and a bust of Mr. Canning for Mr. Bolton, of Liverpool. The same year, as already mentioned, he visited Italy. Rome, Venice, and Florence were the chief points of attraction : some of his letters and journals, relative to the works of art in these and other places, have been published.
Note 1. I have seen a large lithographic print of this fine work of art, on which the Sculptor, who presented it to a lady, has written— "Statue of Francis Chantrey, aged seventy. "
On his return from the continent he modelled four of his finest busts, viz., those of Lord Castlereagh, Mr. Phillips the painter, Mr. Wordsworth, and Sir Walter Scott; the Wordsworth for Sir George Beaumont, the Sir Walter Scott for his own gratification, and from sincere respect for the worth and genius of Sir Walter. Chantrey (56) never excelled this bust — it is his very best. The history of this admirable head ( which has been thought superior to anything in ancient or modern art ) is contained in the following letter, which, although it has been repeatedly printed, is too interesting to be omitted in this place :
TO THE RIGHT HON. SIR ROBERT PEEL, BART. Belgrave Place, Jan. 26, 1838.
DEAR SIR ROBERT, —I have much pleasure in complying with your request to note down such facts as remain on my memory concerning the bust of Sir Walter Scott, which you have done me the honour to place in your collection at Drayton Manor.
My admiration of Scott, as a poet and a man, induced me, in the year 1820, to ask him to sit to me for his bust, the only time I ever recollect having asked a similar favour from any one. He agreed, and I stipulated that he should breakfast with me always before his sittings, and never come alone, nor bring more than three friends at once, and that they should all be good talkers. That he fulfilled the latter condition you may guess, when I tell you that on one occasion he came with Mr. Croker, Mr. Heber, and the late Lord Lyttelton. The marble bust produced from these sittings was moulded, and about forty-five casts were disposed of among the poet's most ardent admirers. This was all I had to do with the plaster casts. The bust was pirated by Italians; and England and Scotland, and even the colonies, were supplied with unpermitted and bad casts to the extent of thousands, in spite of the terror of an act of parliament.
I made a copy in marble from this bust for the Duke of Wellington; it was sent to Apsley House in 1827, and it is the only duplicate of my bust of Sir Walter Scott that I ever executed in marble.
I now come to your bust of Scott. In the year 1828 I proposed to the poet to present the original marble as an heirloom to Abbotsford, on condition that he would allow me sittings sufficient to finish another marble from the life for studio. To this proposal he acceeded, and the bust was sent to Abbotsford accordingly, with the follow ing words inscribed on the back :-This bust of Sir Walter Scott was made in 1820 by Francis Chantrey (56), and presented by the Sculptor to the Poet, as a token of esteem, in 1828. '
In the months of May and June in the same year (1828) Sir Walter fulfilled his promise, and I finished from his face, the marble bust now at Drayton Manor — a better sanctuary than my studio, else I had not parted with it. The expression is more serious than in the two former busts, and the marks of age more than eight years deeper. ' I have now, I think, stated all that is worthy of remembering about the bust, except that there need be no fear of piracy, for it has never been moulded. "I have the honour to be, Dear Sir, "Your very sincere and faithful servant, "F. CHANTREY."1
Note 1. Alas! in the brief interval between the transcription of the above letter and the placing of it here in type, a sudden and fatal accident has deprived the country of a most accomplished, non factious, and noble-minded senator, and the fine arts of an equally intelligent and munificent patron. Sir Robert Peel died July 3, 1850, in consequence of injuries received when thrown from his horse two or three days before; and the intelligence of his death was probably received through the country with a more general and spontaneous expression of sorrow, than was ever caused by any similar event.
Although Chantrey can hardly be said ever to have touched the poetic in marble, he not only cherished an early, and probably a life-long love of poetry, but at one time or other, in some way came into friendly contact with every one of the cele brated men in "Britain's living choir." In the month of September, 1818, Mr. and Mrs. Chantrey, along with Collins the landscape painter, were paying a pleasant visit to Southey, at Keswick, on their way to Scotland. Whether or not the head of the worthy Poet Laureate was less adapted for representation by the modeller than by the painter, I do not take upon me to say; but it appears that the portrait by Lawrence was considered more successful than the bust by Chantrey. Alluding to this matter, the son and biographer of Southey says that, on visits to Sir Francis, "their mutual friend, Mr. Bedford, always accompanied him : and there, too, was Allan Cunningham; so that the moulding went on merrily, for Chantrey loved a good story, and the reader need not be told that Mr. Bedford would both give and take a joke.1 The Sculptor, however, was not so successful as the painter, [ Sir T. Lawrence, ] and, though he made several attempts to improve the likeness by after-touches, he never regarded his task as satis factorily accomplished, though many persons were well satisfied with it; indeed, although he promised my father a marble copy of it, he would never fulfil is promise, always purposing to amend his work. After his death, I believe it was purchased by Sir R. Peel."2
Note 1. As an illustration of Chautrey's fondness for a joke, and of the "free and easy" manner in which he could avail himself of his friend's hospitality, it may be mentioned that, on one occasion, when Mr. Read, after being out most of the day, returned home to Norton House, he was startled by the appari tion of two uninvited gentlemen, evidently enjoying dinner at the table to which he was looking with a similar object. His 1 surprise was very brief — the self-bidden guests turned out to be Chantrey and his companion, Grosvenor Bedford, Esq. ( to whom so many of Southey's letters were addressed, ) who being on their way northward, and not finding Mr. Read within, nor being sure of his early return, were thus availing themselves of a welcome way-side meal.
Note 2. Life and Correspondence of Southey, "v. 327.
To this period belongs the execution of the celebrated monument-one of the largest of its class in England — of David Pike Watts, Esq., now in a chapel erected for its reception in the church adjoining Ilam Hall, near Dovedale. In this fine work of art, the venerable man is represented "on his bed of death, from which he has raised himself by a final effort of expiring nature, to perform the last solemn act of a long and virtuous life : his only daughter- [ Mrs. Watts Russell (25) ] —and her children, all that were dearest to him in life, surround his couch, and bend at his side, as they receive from his lips the benedictions of a dying parent, when the last half-uttered farewell falters upon them."
How did that sculptured group command Our wonder, which hath ravish'd thousand eyes : The kneeling mother, and the soft surprise Of the three little ones that near her stand : ' Than this — thy genius, Chantrey (35)! scarce could rise Higher, with trophies fresh from Nature won; Art, how transcendent, when such power is given, To fix expression in the Parian stone, Which turns rapt thought towards holiness and heaven! "
The interest of my visit to the mausoleum containing this affecting piece of sculpture, was considerably enhanced by the appearance of a most exquisite stone cross, which had just been erected in the adjacent village, by the benevolent proprietor of Ilam, in memory of his wife, the lady above mentioned, one or two of whose children, with their father, the clergyman of the place, and Mr. Derrick, of Oxford, the architect, were at the moment inspecting the newly-finished work. This out door incident formed a touching commentary on the monument in the church! I have always understood that the elegant residence of Jesse Watts Russell, Esq., owes something of its architectural beauty to the taste of Chantrey, who certainly designed the Parsonage House adjacent.
In 1822, Chantrey (40) exhibited his admirable bust of George IV., now in the Royal College of Physicians; and in the following year — 1823 — the impressive cumbent figure of John, the first Earl of Malmsbury, deeply thoughtful, with a book in his hand, now in Salisbury Cathedral. Dr. Carus, who accompanied the King of Saxony on his visit to this country, in 1844, says— "The image of a noble, intelligent man, who, in the midst of bodily sufferings, still continues to apply himself to the higher objects of mental developement, is here so admirably delineated, that I must pronounce this work, which is also beautifully treated in marble, in a statuary point of view, one of the most peculiar and remarkable of modern times. "1
Note 1. King of Saxony's Journey, p. 193.
In 1824 appeared his second bust of the Duke of Wellington, and his first statue of Watt, now in Handsworth Church, near Birmingham : it is not less striking in depth of expression, while I think the costume of the great engineer is more appropriate, than that of the far-famed figure in West minster Abbey.1 To the same year belongs the statue of Dr. Cyril Jackson, erected at Oxford.
Note 1. Besides other artistic advantages of what the Spectator calls "everlasting drapery," the classical robe usually affords & convenient opportunity for disposing of the hand; for while of Chantrey's full-size statues of men, I do not recollect one that is without the conventional wrapper, it is in at least a dozen instances supported by the hand of the figure. In some cases, the stiff legal or ecclesiastical wig, contrasts curiously with the flowing stole. Nollekens and Roubiliac, as well as Chantrey, are, however, understood to have had as great a dislike to modelling a professional wig as Lord Brougham had to wearing it; and Allan Cunningham, an authority not to be lightly set aside in these matters — even for the judgment of Dr. Johnson-agreed with his gifted master : hence he tells us that "two Archbishops of Canterbury, and a Bishop of Durham, who was bald, and could ill spare such a covering, were standing in Chantrey's gallery without their wigs, to the astonishment of many a sound divine. "