Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Papworth, Edgar George

PAPWORTH, EDGAR GEORGE (1809–1866), sculptor, born on 20 or 21 Aug. 1809, was only son of Thomas Papworth (1773–1814), ‘builder, plasterer, and architect,’ who conducted the last stucco and plastering works carried on in London on a large scale. These works were founded by Thomas's father, John Papworth (1750–1799), and were situated in Great Portland and Newman Streets. John Papworth was ‘master-plaisterer’ at St. James's and Kensington Palaces from 1780, and executed much stucco and plastering at the palaces, at Somerset House, and at Greenwich Chapel.

Edgar early exhibited talents for drawing, modelling, and design in sculpture, and at an early age was placed as a pupil with Edward Hodges Baily, R.A. [q. v.] He was living at the time at the house of his uncle, John Buonarotti Papworth [q. v.], architect. He was entered, 15 Dec. 1826, at the age of seventeen, as a student of the Royal Academy of Arts; in December 1829 he obtained the silver medal for a model from the antique; in December 1831 another silver medal for a figure; December 1833 the gold medal for a group of Leucothea presenting the scarf to Ulysses; and in 1834 he was elected to the travelling studentship of the academy. In 1836 he sent from Rome a Psyche. He returned home in 1837 in ill-health, but exhibited in 1838 a head of Flora, and another of Psyche.

While in Rome he made sketches for a panorama of that city; these he enlarged, and exhibited about 1844 for a short time in a gallery in Great Portland Street. He etched ‘Original Sculptural Designs,’ which he had executed in Rome, and published them in folio in 1840.

Meanwhile he continued to exhibit, chiefly busts, statuettes, and sketch designs, sent from his studio in Seymour Street, St. Pancras. The most popular of his ideal works were ‘Adam and Eve,’ executed for Mr. Foster-White, treasurer to St. Bartholomew's Hospital; ‘The Woman of Samaria,’ for Mr. James Brand; and (1856) ‘The Moabitish Maiden,’ a commission from the prince consort. Among the numerous busts of eminent men he executed those of Captain Speke, of Sir Richard Burton, and of Admiral Blake, erected in the shire hall at Taunton. Bunyan's memorial tomb in Bunhill Fields, London, was also his work. In the competition of June and July 1857 for the Wellington monument for St. Paul's Cathedral his model received the third prize of 300l., out of eighty-three designs submitted; that by Alfred Stevens was one of the five receiving 100l. each. These designs are now at South Kensington Museum.

In 1859 he exhibited at the academy ‘The Young Emigrant’ and ‘The Bride.’

In his later years his circumstances were embarrassed owing to his extravagant and careless habits. He died on 26 Sept. 1866, aged 65, and was buried in Highgate cemetery. He married Caroline Baily, daughter of his first master; she died on 22 May 1867. His eldest son, Edgar George, followed his profession.

[Family information; Builder, 1857, p. 417.]

W. P.-h.