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Ritchie, Alexander Handyside (DNB00)

RITCHIE, ALEXANDER HANDYSIDE (1804–1870), sculptor, son of James Ritchie, a brickmaker, who amused himself with modelling, was born in Musselburgh, near Edinburgh, in 1804. He was educated at the parish school, and showed such a taste for drawing and designing that he was induced by Leonard Horner to remove to Edinburgh, where he continued his art studies. He attended the school of design, and afterwards made a tour of France and Italy, studying at Rome under Thorwaldsen, and returning to Edinburgh about 1838. He was the sculptor of a large number of busts, statues, and groups (eleven of which were exhibited at the Royal Academy, London), and he was elected an associate of the Royal Scottish Academy in 1846. He died on 23 April 1870.

As a sculptor Ritchie was possessed of no small amount of true feeling and skill. Among his best productions are busts of Lady Susan Hamilton and Kemp the architect of the Scott monument in Edinburgh; the Dickson statue group in St. Cuthbert's churchyard, Edinburgh; a statue of his friend, Dr. Moir, at Musselburgh; the Wallace statue at Stirling; and the ornamental figures on the Commercial and British Linen Banks in Edinburgh, the Commercial Bank in Glasgow, and the mausoleum at Hamilton Palace. He was also engaged for decorative sculpture for the houses of parliament.

Ritchie's younger brother, John Ritchie (1809–1850), sculptor, pursued his studies in Scotland under many disadvantages. The chief of his early works is the statue of Sir Walter Scott at Glasgow. He was subject to extraordinary dreams, and used to attempt to model his visions in clay. One of them was his fine group, ‘The Deluge,’ exhibited at Edinburgh in 1823, which attracted much attention. It was again exhibited in London, at the Royal Academy, in 1840. In the same year his ‘Sappho’ was exhibited at the British Institution. After the return of his brother from Rome, he became his assistant, and worked for him for some years. A Mr. Davidson, of London, who saw the model of ‘The Deluge,’ commissioned John Ritchie to execute it in marble. With this purpose he set out in September 1850 for Rome. He was already engaged on his work when he caught malarial fever, which proved fatal on 30 Nov. (notes furnished by Mr. Campbell Dodgson; Art Journal, 1851, p. 44).

[Irving's Eminent Scotsmen; Redgrave's Dict. of Artists; Report of Royal Scottish Academy for 1870; Cat. of the Scottish National Portrait Gallery.]

G. S-h.