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Later Victorian Portraits Catalogue

Thomas Woolner (1825-1892), Sculptor and poet

Sculptor; born 17 December 1825, at Hadleigh, Suffolk. Indentured aged twelve to painter Charles Behnes 1837; joined William Behnes, portrait sculptor, 1840; entered Royal Academy Schools 1842; exh. RA from 1843; met Dante Gabriel Rossetti 1847; founder member of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood 1848; unfruitful gold prospecting in Australia 1852–4; his bust of Tennyson (1857; Trinity Coll., Cambridge) established him as a portrait sculptor; sitters – who were also friends – included Gladstone (1868, 1883), Browning (1856), Tennyson (1856, 1857, 1867, 1874, 1876) and Carlyle (1855, 1868); elected ARA 1871, RA 1874; professor of sculpture at RA 1877–8, and also teacher at Working Men’s College; died at his home, 29 Welbeck Street, London, on 7 October 1892, just a day after Tennyson.

Woolner in 1847:

He was then twenty-two years of age, broad-chested, square-shouldered, rather more set in form than usual at that time of a man’s life, robust, active, muscular, and with remarkably fine hands; his square-featured and noble face was set in roughly-cut, thick masses of brownish auburn hair, and under his full eyebrows vigorous, resolute and penetrating eyes glowed steadfastly while he looked at you. [1]

In the year 1848 Woolner went for a short time to Paris […]. The passport for this journey is still preserved and gives a strangely inaccurate description of his personal appearance, stating his eyes were blue: they were dark brown, his eyebrows and eyelashes were dark – his hair a beautiful chestnut colour.’ [2]

In middle life:

Woolner was of middle height, sturdily built, with a strong, animated look – dark eyes, rather short nose, and a fine crop of ginger-yellow hair. His manner was frank, decisive, self-confident, and full of warmth to persons whom he liked. […] His talk was somewhat varied, for he always took an interest in several matters outside the range of his art: it was entertaining, pointed, often incisive, and well stored with observation and reflection. He knew how to say a sharp thing sharply. […] He was a steady smoker; in other matters very moderate, or even abstemious. [3]

Carol Blackett-Ord

Footnotesback to top

1) F.G. Stephens’s first meeting with Woolner, in his studio at 15 Mary St, Hampstead Rd, early Jan. 1847; AJ, 1894, p.82.
2) Woolner 1917, p.6.
3) Rossetti 1906, vol.1, pp.64–5.

Referencesback to top

Ahlund 2009
Ahlund, M., ed., The Pre-Raphaelites, exh. cat., Nationalmuseum, Stockholm, 2009.

Beerbohm 1922
Beerbohm, M., Rossetti and His Circle, London, 1922.

Beerbohm 1987
Beerbohm, M., Rossetti and His Circle, [London, 1922] repr. with additions, New Haven and London, 1987.

Bills & Webb 2007
Bills, M., and D. Webb, eds, Victorian Artists in Photographs: [The World of G.F. Watts]. Selections from the Rob Dickins Collection, exh. cat., Watts Gallery, Compton, 2007.

Bronkhurst 1987
Bronkhurst, J.E., ‘William Homan Hunt: A Catalogue Raisonné of Paintings and Drawings executed up to his Departure for the Near East on 13 January 1854’, 2 vols, unpublished doctoral thesis, Courtauld Institute, University of London, 1987.

Bronkhurst 2006
Bronkhurst, J.E., William Holman Hunt: A Catalogue Raisonné, 2 vols, New Haven and London, 2006.

Cooper 1876–83
Cooper, T., Men of Mark: A Gallery of Contemporary Portraits of Men Distinguished in the Senate, the Church, in Science, Literature and Art, the Army, Navy, Law, Medicine, etc. Photographed from life by Lock and Whitfield, London, 7 ser., 1876–83.

Cox & Ford 2003
Cox, J., and C. Ford, Julia Margaret Cameron: The Complete Photographs, London, 2003.
Cruise 2011
Cruise, C., Pre-Raphaelite Drawing, London, 2011 (to accompany exh., The Poetry of Drawing: Pre-Raphaelite Designs, Studies and Watercolours, Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery and Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 2011).

Doughty & Wahl 1965–7
Doughty, O., and J.R. Wahl, Letters of Dante Gabriel Rossetti, 4 vols, Oxford, 1965–7.

Fredeman 2002–10
Fredeman, W.E., ed., The Correspondence of Dante Gabriel Rossetti, 9 vols, Woodbridge, Suffolk, 2002–10.

Gernsheim 1975
Gernsheim, H., Julia Margaret Cameron: Her Life and Photographic Work, New York, 1975.

Gould 2004
Gould, V.F., G.F. Watts: The Last Great Victorian, London, 2004.

Hart-Davis 1972
Hart-Davis, R., A Catalogue of the Caricatures of Max Beerbohm, London, 1972.

Hunt 1905
Hunt, W.H., Pre-Raphaelitism and the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood, 2 vols, London, 1905

Hunt 1913
Hunt, W.H., Pre-Raphaelitism and the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood, 2nd ed., 2 vols, London, 1913.

Lukitsh 2005
Lukitsh, J. Thomas Woolner: Seeing Sculpture through Photography, Leeds, 2005.

Maas 1984
Maas, J., The Victorian Art World in Photographs, London, 1984.

McMaster 2008
McMaster, J., ‘That Mighty Art of Black-and-White: Linley Sambourne, Punch and the Royal Academy’, British Art Journal, Autumn 2008, pp.62–76.

McMaster 2009
McMaster, J., That Mighty Art of Black-and-White: Linley Sambourne, Punch and the Royal Academy, Edmonton, Canada, 2009.

Marsh 1998a
Marsh, J., The Pre-Raphaelites (NPG Character Sketches series), London, 1998.

Marsh 1999
Marsh, J., Dante Gabriel Rossetti: Painter and Poet, London, 1999.

Marsh 2005a
Marsh, J., The Pre-Raphaelite Circle (NPG Insights series), London, 2005.

Metken 1973
Metken, G., Präraffaeliten, exh. cat., Staatliche Kunsthalle, Baden-Baden, 1973–4.

Ormond 2010
Ormond, L., Linley Sambourne: Illustrator and Punch Cartoonist, London, 2010.

Ormond 1967
Ormond, R., ‘Portraits to Australia’, Apollo, vol.85, January 1967, pp.25–7.

Read & Barnes 1991
Read, B., and J. Barnes, eds, Pre-Raphaelite Sculpture: Nature and Imagination in British Sculpture 1848–1914, London, 1991.

Reeve & Walford 1863–7
Reeve, L., and E. Walford, eds, Portraits of Men of Eminence in literature, science and art, with biographical memoirs. The photographs from life, by E. Edwards, 6 vols, London, 1863–7.

Roberts & Wildman 1997
Roberts, L., and S. Wildman, eds, Arthur Hughes, His Life and Works: A Catalogue Raisonné, Woodbridge, Suffolk, 1997.

Robinson [1892]
Robinson, R.W., Members and Associates of the Royal Academy of Arts, 1891. Photographed in their Studios by Ralph W. Robinson of Redhill, n.p., [1892].

Rossetti 1906
Rossetti, W.M., Some Reminiscences and Other Writings, 2 vols, London, 1906.

Stevens 2004
Stevens, T., ‘Woolner, Thomas (1825–1892)’, ODNB, Oxford, 2004; online ed., May 2006.

Surtees 1971
Surtees, V., The Paintings and Drawings of Dante Gabriel Rossetti (1828–1882): A Catalogue Raisonné, 2 vols, Oxford, 1971.

Treuherz et al. 2003
Treuherz, J., and others, Dante Gabriel Rossetti, exh. cat., Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool and Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam: London, 2003.

Wildman 1990
Wildman, S., comp., Dante Gabriel Rossetti, exh. cat., Bunkamura Art Gallery, Tokyo, Aichi Art Gallery, Nagoya and Ishibashi Museum of Art, Kurume: Tokyo, 1990.

Woolner 1917
Woolner, A., ed., Thomas Woolner R.A., Sculptor and Poet: His Life in Letters, London, 1917.