Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Baily, Edward Hodges

674489Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900, Volume 02 — Baily, Edward Hodges1885Ernest Radford

BAILY, EDWARD HODGES (1788–1867), sculptor, was born at Bristol, where his father was known as a skilful carver of figure-heads for ships. He was sent to a grammar school, but showed the common artistic repugnance to the regular studies. Young Baily would carve strange portraits of his schoolfellows, and showed no capacity for ordinary school work. At fourteen he entered a merchant's office, and remained there for two years. During this time he obtained some instruction from a modeller in wax, and greatly improved his opportunity. Soon he forsook commerce, and began taking portraits in wax. By virtue of some studies which he made from the antique, he obtained a fortunate introduction to Flaxman, in whose studio, in 1807, he became a pupil, and there he remained for seven years. In 1809 he entered the Academy schools, gaining silver and gold medals in quick succession. He was made an associate in 1817. In 1818 he executed for the British Literary Institution the beautiful statue which established his reputation, 'Eve at the Fountain.' In 1821 he was elected a full member of the Royal Academy. From this time until 1858 he was a busy man, and a constant exhibitor; the execution of portrait statues and busts occupying the greatest share of his attention. In the region of ideal art his taste led him rather towards domestic than classical subjects. Nagler gives high praise to a representation, in high relief, of 'Motherly Love.' Kindred subjects, the 'Mother and Child,' 'Group of Children,' and the like, were favourites of his, and were often repeated. Of his portrait statues, perhaps the best known are his Charles James Fox and Lord Mansfield in St. Stephen's Hall, Westminster. He had among his sitters many distinguished men, including Stothard, Fuseli, Flaxman, Byron, Haydon, and the Duke of Wellington. Of his connection with the duke an amusing account is preserved by Haydon. It shows the sculptor to have been at once a cool-headed and high-spirited man. Amongst purely fanciful subjects, besides those already referred to, 'The Graces,' 'Eve listening to the Voice,' and 'A girl preparing for the Bath' may be mentioned. In 1863 Baily, who for some years then past had done little, was made an 'honorary retired academician,' and exhibited no more. He died at Holloway on 22 May 1867. He stands high in his profession as an artist, but was not careful enough of the money his talent procured, and the last years of his long life were much embarrassed. A writer in the 'Art Journal' (July 1867) says: 'The years of his prolonged life were actively passed in upholding the dignity and purity of his art, and in its annals his name must always be referred to as one of the most successful and accomplished British sculptors of the nineteenth century.'

[Art Journal, 1867; Athenæum. 1 Juno 1867; Haydon's Life and Letters, 3 vols., edited by Tom Taylor; Nagler's Kunstler-Lexicon, ed. 1833; Redgrave's Dict, of Eng. School.]

E. R.

Dictionary of National Biography, Errata (1904), p.12
N.B.— f.e. stands for from end and l.l. for last line

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427 ii 27 Baily, Edward H.: for British read Bristol