Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Westmacott, Richard (1799-1872)

757481Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900, Volume 60 — Westmacott, Richard (1799-1872)1899Campbell Dodgson

WESTMACOTT, RICHARD (1799–1872), sculptor, the eldest son of Sir Richard Westmacott [q. v.], by his marriage with Dorothy Margaret Wilkinson, was born in London in 1799. He originally desired to become a barrister, but yielded to his father's wish that he should enter his studio and be trained as a sculptor. In 1818 he was admitted to the school of the Royal Academy. In 1820 his father sent him to Italy, where he remained six years, studying ancient sculpture and its history. On his return he resided in his father's house, 14 South Audley Street, till 1830, when he removed to 21 Wilton Place. In 1827 he exhibited his first statue at the Royal Academy, ‘Girl with a Bird.’ This was followed in 1829 by six works, statues of ‘A Reaper’ and ‘Girl with a Fawn,’ and four portrait-busts. In 1830 he exhibited ‘The Guardian Angel;’ in 1831 ‘Venus carrying off Ascanius,’ for the Earl of Ellesmere, for whom he also executed ‘Venus instructing Cupid,’ exhibited in 1838, ‘The Bluebell,’ and ‘The Butterfly.’ In 1832 he exhibited ‘The Cymbal-player,’ purchased by the Duke of Devonshire; in 1833 ‘Narcissus;’ in 1834 ‘The Pilgrim’ and ‘Hope;’ in 1837 ‘Mercury presenting Pandora to Prometheus’ and ‘Wycliffe Preaching’ (for Lutterworth church); in 1838 ‘Paolo and Francesca’ for the Marquis of Lansdowne. In that year Westmacott was elected an associate of the Royal Academy, of which he became a full member in 1849. From 1840 onwards till 1855, when he retired from his profession and ceased to exhibit, he was engaged principally on portrait statues and busts and monumental sculpture. The more interesting of his busts were those of John Henry Newman, 1841; Lord John Russell, 1843; Sir Francis Burdett, 1845; Sir Roderick Murchison, 1848. Other subjects were ‘Ariel,’ 1841; ‘The Soul enslaved by Sin,’ a relief, 1847; ‘Go and sin no more,’ 1850; ‘David,’ 1852. Westmacott exhibited in all eighty-two works at the Royal Academy, in addition to four at the British Institution.

Westmacott's only important public work in London was the sculpture in the pediment of the west front of the Royal Exchange, erected 1842–4. The recumbent statue of Archbishop Howley in the choir of Canterbury Cathedral, exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1850, is the most important of his monuments.

In 1857 he succeeded his father as professor of sculpture at the Royal Academy, and held that office till 1867. He was a fellow of the Royal Society, to which he was elected on 25 May 1837, and was well known as a writer and lecturer on art, contributing articles on sculpture to the ‘Encyclopædia Metropolitana,’ the ‘English Encyclopædia,’ and the ‘Penny Cyclopædia.’ He published ‘The Handbook of Ancient and Modern Sculpture’ in 1864, and several pamphlets. ‘Outlines to Illustrate a Moral Allegory, entitled “The Fighte of Freewille,”’ eight plates, engraved from Westmacott's designs, with descriptive text, appeared in 1839.

Westmacott retired from the Royal Academy about a year before his death, which took place at 1 Kensington Gate, Hyde Park, on 19 April 1872.

[Redgrave's Dict. of Artists; Sandby's Hist. of Royal Academy, ii. 197; Royal Academy Catalogues.]

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