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Hamo Thornycroft

Hamo Thornycroft, by Sir Leslie Ward, 1891-1892 -NPG 3933 - © National Portrait Gallery, London

© National Portrait Gallery, London

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Hamo Thornycroft

by Sir Leslie Ward
Watercolour over preliminary pencil, with touches of Chinese white, on blue-toned paper 335 x 225mm (13 1/8 x 8 7/8in), 1891-1892
13 1/4 in. x 8 7/8 in. (337 mm x 225 mm)
NPG 3933

Inscriptionback to top

Inscr. in pencil lower right: ‘Spy’.

This portraitback to top

This is one of a large collection in the National Portrait Gallery of original caricatures drawn by Leslie Ward as ‘Spy’ for Vanity Fair. When published as a chromolithograph in Vanity Fair on 20 February 1892 it had the title Bronze Statuary, taken from the accompanying text: ‘He is the modeller of so many small bronzes that he is like to revive the Bronze Age; for his bronze statuary is becoming quite the thing.’[1] This refers to Thornycroft’s production of table-top versions of larger works, many of which were nude female figures. The statuette which Thornycroft is modelling here has not been identified, but has some resemblance to the figure of John Bright, whose statue by Thornycroft had been unveiled in October 1891;[2] a maquette for this was exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1892 (1868), and a statuette measuring 330mm high was also produced.[3]

The accompanying text in Vanity Fair also included the following remarks:

There is no finer example of the sculptor’s art than that national memorial to General Gordon which now preaches to all who pass by in Trafalgar Square – the eternal condemnation of Gladstonian treachery.… He [Thornycroft] is the husband of a daughter of a County Court judge, and the younger brother of that John Isaac [Thornycroft] who builds most murderous torpedo boats, and he has a sister who can most beautifully paint the lily. He is a clear-complexioned fellow who, when he has on his working clothes, might well be taken for a countryman.[4]

The stick man half-way down the turntable may represent some form of lay figure; it appears in the print, and is not a later addition.

Ward exhibited a now unlocated portrait of Thornycroft at the Royal Society of Portrait Painters in 1894 (200) of which no details are known. It is possible but unlikely that this was the work exhibited.

Dr Jan Marsh

Footnotesback to top

1) ‘Jehu Junior’ [TG. Bowles], Vanity Fair, 20 Feb. 1892, p.135. For copies of the chromolithograph, see bound issues of Vanity Fair caricatures, NPG Archive; Getty Images, 50700625; MEPL, London, 10075909; and Henry Moore Inst. Archive, Leeds, 2004.22.
2) As ‘The late Rt. Hon. John Bright … Model of a bronze statue lately erected at Rochdale’. However, the statue of Bright has a knee-length frock-coat, unlike the clay figure shown by Ward.
3) See Manning 1982, cat. no.27.
4) ‘Jehu Junior’ [TG. Bowles], Vanity Fair, 20 Feb. 1892, p.135.

Physical descriptionback to top

Whole-length, standing, pink complexion, brown eyes, light brown hair and moustache, modelling a blue-grey clay statuette on a brown wooden stand, wearing white shirt, red necktie, white smock over brown striped trousers, grey spats and black shoes.

Provenanceback to top

Purchased 1955 from F.F. Curtis of the Topographical Gallery, London for 4 gs.; see also NPG 3931 (Gen. Sir Michael Biddulph) and NPG 3932 (Baron Ashbourne).

Reproductionsback to top

Copies of the print after NPG 3933
Chromolithograph by Vincent Brooks, Day & Son, Vanity Fair, 20 February 1892; copies colls NPG D44582; Henry Moore Inst. Archive, Leeds.

View all known portraits for Sir (William) Hamo Thornycroft

View all known portraits for Sir Leslie Ward



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