Open main menu

MARSHALL, WILLIAM CALDER (1813–1894), sculptor, born at Gilmour Place, Edinburgh, on 18 March 1813, was eldest son of William Marshall, goldsmith, and Annie Calder, his wife. Educated at the high school and university, he commenced his art studies at the Trustees' Academy in 1830, and four years later went to London, where he worked under Sir Francis Legatt Chantrey [q. v.] and Edward Hodges Baily [q. v.], and in the schools of the Royal Academy, where he gained a silver medal in 1835. He then spent two years (1836-8) in Rome, and in 1839 he settled permanently in London. In 1835, two years after he had exhibited first in the Royal Scottish Academy, he exhibited in London, and in 1844 he was elected an associate of the Royal Academy, and in 1852 an academician. He had been elected A.R.S.A. in 1840, but resigning when he received the London honour, he was made an honorary member at a later date. In recognition of his services as a British commissioner at the Paris Exposition of 1878 he was appointed chevalier of the Legion of Honour. He retired from the Royal Academy in 1890, exhibited there for the last time in the following year, and, having completed his last work in 1893, died in London on 16 June 1894.

He was a hard worker, and during his long career produced a great number of works. These were principally poetic and ideal in intention, and were very popular. He executed a number of commissions for the Art Union of London, and engravings of many of his sculptures are to be found in the 'Art Journal.' Classic and mythological subjects, such as 'Thetis and Achilles,' or 'Ajax praying for Light,' and 'Zephyr and Aurora' or 'Hebe,' and motives derived from the Bible or Shakespeare, were favourites with him. These often took the form of groups, and one of his best-known pieces is the group symbolic of 'Agriculture' on the Albert Memorial in Hyde Park. In 1857 he was awarded the first premium (700l.) in the competition for the Wellington Memorial, but fortunately the design of Alfred Stevens [q.v.] was afterwards adopted. He also produced a number of memorial statues, of which the marbles of Lords Clarendon and Somers, in the houses of parliament at Westminster, and of Sir George Grey, in Cape Town, and the bronze of Sir Robert Peel, in Manchester, may be named.

His style was of its time, and pseudo-classicism in his hands was informed by no richness of fancy or real power of technique. A certain elegance of design and type and conscientiousness of execution are the greatest merits his art possesses. An exhibition of his works was held in his studio in Ebury Street, London, after his death; and his executors presented the original models of his more important pieces to museums and galleries throughout the kingdom.

He was twice married: first, in 1842, to Marianne, daughter of Dr. Lawrie, Edinburgh, who died the same year; and secondly, in 1845, to Margaret, daughter of Joseph Calder of Burnhouse, Mid-Calder, by whom he had four sons and two daughters.

[Private information; Times and Scotsman, 19 June 1894; Reports of the R.S.A. 1894; Catalogues of exhibitions and galleries.]

J. L. C.