Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Cheere, Henry

CHEERE, Sir HENRY (1703–1781), statuary, was probably the son of John and Sarah Cheere of Clapham in Surrey. He was a pupil of Peter Scheemakers, and rapidly succeeded in establishing a reputation as the principal statuary in the rather debased style of the age in which he lived. He worked in marble, bronze, and lead; in the latter he executed numerous copies of well-known statues and other ornaments, to meet the fashion of garden-decoration which was then in vogue. He had a large practice in funeral monuments, and executed those of Sir Edmund Prideaux; Dr. Samuel Bradford, bishop of Rochester; Admiral Sir Thomas Hardy; John Conduitt, master of the mint; Dr. Hugh Boulter, bishop of Bristol and archbishop of Armagh; Captain Philip de Sausmarez; Sir John Chardin, bart., the younger (to whom Cheere seems to have been related); and Joseph Wilcocks, bishop of Rochester, all of these being in Westminster Abbey; also the monuments of Sir William Pole, master of the household to Queen Anne, in Shute Church, Devonshire, a full-length statue in court dress, for which he received 317l.; of Robert Davies of Llanerch, in Mold Church, Flintshire, a full-length statue in Roman dress; of Susanna, daughter and heiress of Sir Dalby Thomas, in Hampton Church, Middlesex; and of Bishop Willis, in Winchester Cathedral. He was also the sculptor of the equestrian statue of the Duke of Cumberland which formerly stood in Cavendish Square. At Wallington House, Northumberland, there is a large and elaborate chimney-piece by him, and another one also attributed to him. Cheere was employed by the fellows of All Souls' College, Oxford, as the first statuary of the time, to execute the statue of Christopher Codrington [q. v.] in the Codrington Library at that college, and was further employed on the twenty-four busts of former fellows of the college which adorned the bookcases in the same library. Cheere's working premises were at Hyde Park Corner, just outside the Green Park, and he is alluded to as the ‘man from Hyde Park Corner’ in Colman and Garrick's comedy of the ‘Clandestine Marriage.’ He seems to have lived in Old Palace Yard, Westminster, and to have occupied a distinguished position in the parish of St. Margaret's, Westminster. In 1749 he was appointed controller of duties for the Free Fish Market in Westminster, and in 1760 he was chosen on behalf of the county of Middlesex to present a congratulatory address to the king on his accession. On that occasion he received the honour of knighthood, and in 1766 he was advanced to the dignity of a baronet. In 1750 he was elected a fellow of the Society of Antiquaries, and in 1755 was one of the committee of artists who originated the scheme for the foundation of an academy of arts; in 1757 he propounded a scheme of his own for that object. In 1756 he was chosen, with Hogarth and others, by the Society for the Encouragement of Arts to decide on the two first premiums given by the society that year. Cheere had for his pupil and assistant Louis François Roubiliac, and it was through Cheere that Roubiliac laid the foundation of a fame which has eclipsed that of his master. Tyers, the proprietor of Vauxhall Gardens, consulted Cheere as to the advisability of employing statues to decorate the gardens. Cheere suggested a statue of Handel, and, there being some difficulty as to expense, introduced Roubiliac as a young foreigner likely to do it on moderate terms. This statue, finished in 1738, first brought Roubiliac into notice. Cheere died in Westminster on 15 Jan. 1781, aged 77, and was buried with his wife at Clapham. He married before 1730 Helen, daughter of Sauvignion Randall, who died on 25 Oct. 1760. He left surviving two sons, of whom William succeeded to the baronetcy, and took holy orders; he exhibited in 1798 a landscape at the Royal Academy, was governor of Christ's Hospital and other public institutions, and died a bachelor on 28 Feb. 1808 at White Roding, Essex, leaving a large fortune to his two nieces, the daughters of his brother Charles, who had predeceased him. One of these ladies married in 1789 Charles Madryll of Papworth Hall, Cambridgeshire, who assumed the name of Cheere on the death of Sir William Cheere, with whom the baronetcy expired. John Cheere, brother of Sir Henry, was also a statuary, and probably a partner in his brother's works.

[Redgrave's Dictionary of English Artists; Notes and Queries, 4th ser. vi. 525, vii. 46, 5th ser. ii. 377, iii. 375; Betham's Baronetage, iii. 340; Gent. Mag. 1760 p. 591, 1781 p.47, 1808 p. 374; Argosy, February 1866, p. 229; Burrows's Worthies of All Souls; Pye's Patronage of British Art; Chester's Registers of Westminster Abbey; Miss Bradley's Popular Guide to Westminster Abbey; Clapham Registers, &c. per Rev. C. C. Mills; information from Rev. Edward Cheere and Mr. C. R. L. Fletcher, fellow of All Souls.]

L. C.