British bronze sculpture founders and plaster figure makers, 1800-1980 - B
A selective resource, 2nd edition October 2015 (*new entry). Contributions welcome, to Jacob Simon at email@example.com. Last updated September 2017.
*Alfred Barnard, Autoglyph Foundry, Park Place, Chelsea, London 1888, Church St, Chelsea 1889. Bronze founder.
Very little is known of Barnard’s life or work. He has not been identified in the 1891 or the 1901 census. He is described as follows in 1889: ‘A new foundry for the production of artistic castings has lately been added to the industries of the metropolis, and is a very convenient place for sculptors. This is Mr. Alfred Barnard's "Autoglyph" foundry in Church Street, Chelsea. We should imagine that one who has for many years past been identified with the production of the most beautiful and artistic castings of the century will find many artists anxious to place their work in his hands. The casting of Mr. Boehm’s Stewart Memorial in St Paul’s has lately been most successfully accomplished by Mr. Barnard…’ (The British Architect: A Journal of Architecture and the Accessory Arts, vol.31, 1889, p.34, accessed through Google Book Search; note that in vol.30, 1888, p.76, Barnard’s address was given as Park Place, Chelsea).
Barnard did indeed produce the relief for Joseph Edgar Boehm’s memorial, Major-Gen. Sir Herbert Stewart, c.1888, marked: ALFRED. BARNARD. FOUNDER. (St Paul’s Cathedral). Albert Toft’s bronze medallion, Sir Henry Irving, 1887, marked: ALFRED BARNARD/ FOUNDER (Victoria and Albert Museum), is an aftercast of 1904 probably by another founder.
Vincent Bellman 1832-1860, Bellman & Ivey 1861-1892, Bellman, Ivey & Carter 1892-1905, Bellman, Ivey & Carter Ltd 1906-1938 and later. At 14 Buckingham St, Fitzroy Square, London 1832-1877, 35 Edward St, Dorset Square 1878-1896, street renamed 1897, 35-36 Linhope St 1897-1936; also 41 Howland St, London 1834-1836, manufactory 3 Bedford St, Liquorpond St, Gray’s Inn Road 1847-1864, street renamed and numbered 1864, 10 Vine St, Liquorpond St 1865-1890; works Barlow Mews, Bruton St c.1899; sculpture galleries, 95 Wigmore St 1878-1885, 37 Piccadilly 1885-1891, 175 Piccadilly 1891-1893, 157b New Bond St 1894-1899. Initially a plasterer and scagliola manufacturer, then suppliers of sculpture and pedestals, later also sculpture cleaners.
Vincent Bellman (c.1796-1860) was in business as a plasterer by 1832, additionally as a scagliola manufacturer by 1835. The nature of his business is apparent from an advertisement in 1838 featuring his scagliola works and offering columns and pilasters with capitals and bases, pedestals, candelabra and slabs for table tops (Robson’s London directory 1838).
Bellman married Mary Ann Tookey at Oakham, Rutland in 1837, and they had five daughters and a son (who died young) between 1838 and 1846, all christened at St Pancras Old Church. Bellman was recorded in the 1841 census at Camden Villas as a builder, age 45, and in 1851 at 22 Camden Road Villas as a plasterer and scagliolist, age 55, born in Cornwall, with a wife and five young daughters. He died on 7 October 1860 at 6 Fitzroy St (London Gazette 7 December 1860), leaving effects worth under £9000. It is possible that he is the Vincent Bellman christened at St Minver, Cornwall in 1788, although census records would suggest that he was born about 1796.
Following Vincent Bellman’s death in 1860, the business became Bellman & Ivey. Like Bellman, John Ivey (1794-1874) was born in Cornwall, at St Minver. His son, John Charles Ivey (c.1837-1884) was born in Marylebone in about 1837. In the census in 1851, the father was recorded at Vincent Bellman’s premises at 14 Buckingham St as clerk and bookkeeper, but by 1861 at the age of 66 he had apparently taken control of the business, being recorded at Buckingham St Yard, with his wife Nancy and son John, as a plasterer and scagliola manufacturer, employing 57 men and 11 boys, a medium-sized business. In 1871 at the age of 76 he was still in the business, recorded as a plasterer, scagliola marble and plaster of Paris manufacturer, employing 51 men and ten boys, with his son John recorded as a plasterer. He died on 22 September 1874 (London Gazette 27 October 1874), leaving effects worth under £12,000.
The son, John Charles Ivey, married in 1863 in the Marylebone district. In the 1881 census he was living in Cornwall as a retired plasterer. He died age 46 in 1884 at St Miniver, leaving personal estate of £240. The business received a royal warrant as scagliola marble manufacturers to Queen Victoria in 1879, when Herbert and Edward Vielly(?) were the owners. A further warrant was granted in 1892 to Charles B. Carter, trading as Bellman, Ivey & Carter, manufacturers of pedestals for statuary and restorers of sculpture (National Archives, LC 5/245 p.65, 5/246 p.230).
From 1892 the business traded as Bellman, Ivey & Carter, with Charles B. Carter as a partner or owner (The Times 13 December 1892). Charles Benjamin Carter (1856-1928) married in Brixton in 1880 and was recorded in censuses, in 1891 living in Streatham, as a dealer in sculpture and bronzes, age 35, born Bow in London, with wife, three children, nephew, governess and two servants, and in 1911 at 44 Upper Gloucester Place, as ‘Managing Director (Company) Scagliola (artificial marble)’. Charles Benjamin Carter died in Marlow at the age of 72 in 1928, leaving effects worth £7666.
The business went into voluntary liquidation in 1938 (London Gazette 25 November 1938). Its history after 1938 is not traced here except to identify that it continued in two parts, Bellman, Ivey, Carter & Co, scagliola marble manufacturers at Palace Wharf, Rainville Road, Fulham, and Bellman, Ivey & Carter, plaster manufacturers at Huntsworth Mews, NW1. The business again went into voluntary liquidation in 1977 (London Gazette 2 June 1977).
Sculpture dealers and restorers: The nature of Bellman & Ivey’s business in the late 19th century is apparent from their advertisements. In 1884 sculpture was featured as Christmas presents: ‘The largest stock of Sculpture in the kingdom in marble, bronze, terra cotta, Parian, casts, &c. Reproductions from the antique and the gems of modern plastic art’ (The Times 15 December 1884). In 1886, the business was advertising ‘Marbles. Groups, Statues, Busts, Statuettes. By the best English, French and Italian Artists. Bronzes. Agents for the best European Founders. Terra Cotta. Tanagra Figures. Sole London Agents for the Celebrated “Lechner” series of these beautiful antique statuettes… Pedestals for Sculpture (Manufacturers by Appointment to the Queen) In Marble, Scagliola, Wood (Walnut, Oak, Ebonised, &c.)’ (advertisement, The Society of British Artists, exh. cat., winter exhibition 1886-7).
From the time the business moved to Piccadilly in 1885 until its withdrawal from retail trade in 1899, it held exhibitions of contemporary sculpture, including the work of Thomas Nelson Maclean, Alfred Drury, George Frampton and William Reynolds-Stephens (Beattie 1983 pp.185-6, 193). A sale of its surplus stock was held in 1891 by Foster’s, consisting of Italian statuary and bronzes d’art (The Times 29 July 1891), and a further sale was held in 1899 by May & Rowden of marbles, bronzes and terracottas by contemporary continental sculptors, together with other objects, ‘in consequence of retirement from the retail trade’ (The Times 8 July 1899). In 1906, the business headed its invoice paper as ’Manufacturers of Plaster of Paris & Scagliola Marble’.
The business worked for Queen Victoria, Edward VII and George V. It held a warrant by appointment to Queen Victoria from at least 1885 as marble manufacturers, and to Edward VII from 1901, and subsequently to George V, as manufacturers of pedestals for statuary and restorers of sculpture (London Gazette 27 January 1885, 1 November 1901, etc). From press reports in the early 1890s, it is apparent that Carter, as the partner in the business, took collections of bronzes to Windsor Castle for Queen Victoria to choose from (e.g., The Times 13 December 1892).
The business repaired sculpture. It worked for the National Portrait Gallery between 1902 and 1919, including ‘cleaning & stopping statuary’, among which were 44 marble busts, ‘reflatting’ 12 plaster casts and other work for £34.14s in 1906, restoring a smashed plaster bust of Edward Bird by Chantrey for £3 in 1908, and supplying 13 green marble pedestals for £112 in 1911, the first of several such orders (National Portrait Gallery records, Duplicates of Accounts, vol.5, pp.34, 122, vol.6, pp.17, 20, 37, 72, 78, vol.7, p.34, etc). It also cleaned and repaired some of the plaster casts by Flaxman in University College London in 1922 at the considerable cost of £333 (UCL Art Museum, Strang Print Room, Flaxman Gallery dossier, pp.110, 307).
Contributed by Elaine Cordingley, February 2015
*Giovanni Bianchi, Ipswich 1837, Bridge St, Norwich 1841-1871. Plaster figure maker.
Giovanni Bianchi (c.1807-1872) was active in Norwich from 1841 until his death in 1872. He is probably the man of this name whose arrival in the Port of London is recorded in August 1836 (Returns of alien passengers). He married Sarah Rivett from Great Yarmouth in Ipswich in 1837, and they had a son who died less than a year later. By the time of the 1841 census they were living in Bridge St, Norwich, where he described himself as a ‘figure maker’ (the street later became St George’s St). While at this address they had a further eight children, four of whom survived to have families.
Bianchi described his occupation in Norwich censuses as figure maker or plaster figure maker, then finally as an artist in 1871. He is listed in local trade directories. He died in May 1872 aged 65 of bronchitis, and his obituary in the Norwich Mercury read ‘On 21st inst after a long and painful affliction Giovanni Bianchi of this city, much respected in the 65th year of his age.’
Between 1837 and 1854 Bianchi made death masks of various notorious criminals: James Greenacre (executed Newgate 1837, signed), Daniel Good (executed Newgate 1842, signed), Samuel Yarham (1846; see Norwich Mercury 18 April1846), James Bloomfield Rush (1849, see Norwich Mercury 28 April 1849), Henry Groom (1851, signed), William Thompson (1854, see Norwich Mercury 12 April1854), all in the collection of Norwich Castle Museum. The first two were executed at Newgate prison in London, but the others at Norwich Castle.
Bianchi modelled the head of Johnson Jex (d.1852), an inventor, watchmaker and astronomer of Letheringsett, Norfolk (the head is in St Andrew's church, Letheringsett; see Norfolk Chronicle 17 January 1852). He also modelled a bust of the surgeon J.G. Crosse in 1847 (see Crosse's obituary, Gentleman’s Magazine, vol.34, 1850, p.331; examples of bust, Norwich Castle Museum and Norfolk & Norwich University Hospital archives). In August 1867, Bianchi exhibited at the Norwich and Eastern Counties Industrial Exhibition at St Andrews Hall, Norwich, various statuettes, vases, ornamental modelling and works of art, including Hebe, Psyche and Pandora.
There were other men by the name of Bianchi active as figure makers in London later in the century.
Sources: as acknowledged above; family information (Giovanni Bianchi is Elaine Cordingley’s great-great-great-grandfather). See also Kristel De Wulf, ‘Italian Immigrants in Norfolk’, at https://sites.google.com/site/italianimmigrantsinnorfolk/home/database/bianchi-giovanni.
The history of institutional plaster cast collections lies outside the scope of this online resource, but for the British Museum see Ian Jenkins, ‘Acquisition and Supply of Casts of the Parthenon Sculptures by the British Museum, 1835-1939’, Annual of the British School at Athens, vol.85, 1990, pp.89-114, to which this note is indebted. The following figure makers in this resource worked for the Museum: Richard Westmacott 1816-23 and perhaps subsequently, Matthew Mazzoni who worked for Westmacott from c.1816, Peter Angelo Sarti who worked for Mazzoni initially and then for the Museum directly (1836-7), Loft & Fletcher (1838), William Pink (1839-57) and Domenico Brucciani (1857-80). Subsequently, Brucciani’s foreman, Saverio Biagiotti was employed from 1881 until his death in 1901, to be followed by his son Albert and, from c.1933, by J. and A.G. Prescott. Casts made by Lorenzo Giuntini (qv) for private employers, 1883-92, subsequently came to the museum.
The British Museum undertook cleaning and repair work for University College, London, at the Flaxman Gallery (qv) in 1890 and 1950-2.
In 1910, the British Museum published a 34-page catalogue, List of casts from sculpture in the departments of antiquities: sold by Messrs. Brucciani & Co (copy in British Museum, Prehistory and Europe Library). Brucciani’s moulds in the Department for the Sale of Casts at the Victoria and Albert Museum were transferred to the British Museum in 1955 (Clifford 1992 p.49). The moulds have not been catalogued. The British Museum continues to trade in plaster casts, publishing a catalogue, Heroes and Gods. Classical Plaster Sculpture, c.1998 or before, featuring gods and goddesses, classical busts, emperors, statuary, wall reliefs and modern busts.
Sources: Information on Biagiotti’s birth and christening kindly provided by Bruno Caproni, July 2011. For abbreviations, see Resources and bibliography.
George Broad 1877-1891, George Broad & Son 1891-1909, George Broad & Son Ltd 1910-1912, Broad, Salmon & Co 1913-1918, Broad, Salmon & Co Ltd 1919-1933. At29 Colvill Place, London 1877-1880, 20 Colvill Place 1881-1885, 42 Windmill St, Tottenham Court Road 1886-1929, 41 Windmill St 1893-1929, Adelaide Works, Uxbridge Road, Hammersmith 1891-1898, 65-66 Chancery Lane, WC2 1930-1933. Gold and silver casters, also brass founder from 1886, art brass founder from 1890, art founders from 1892, also statue founders, brass founders and metal warehouse from 1895, also gun metal casters from 1900.
George Broad (1840-95) is probably best known for his work for Alfred Gilbert in the 1890s. The business gave up its Hammersmith foundry in 1898 but continued to cast the occasional sculpture.
George Robert Broad, to give him his full name, was christened in 1843 at St James Paddington, the son of John Broad, a bricklayer, and Ann, his wife. George Broad, brass founder, married Caroline Garrad at St Marylebone in 1863. In census records, he can be found in 1851, age 10, living with his parents in Marylebone, in 1861 as an apprentice brass founder, living with his father at 31 Marylebone Lane, and in subsequent censuses in Hammersmith, in 1871 as a gold and silver carver (sic) at Sussex Place with his wife, in 1881 as a brass founder at Belgrave Villa, Uxbridge Road with his wife, son George John Frederick (1864-1925 or later), age 17, and five daughters, and in 1891 as a bronze founder at 147 Uxbridge Road, with his wife and four daughters. George Robert Broad, brass and bronze founder, died in 1895, age 54, at Bournemouth, leaving effects of £2769.
From 1871, Broad was in partnership with Thomas Harding, as Harding & Broad, gold and silver casters, and from 1877 he traded independently. In the 1928 London directory, it was claimed that the business had been established in 1845 and indeed Thomas Harding was trading as a gold and silver caster at 108 Little Portland St by 1851 and at 1 Little Portland St by 1858. The business moved to Colvill Place in 1873.
‘Broad & Son Ltd’ was put into liquidation in 1910 (London Gazette 10 May 1910; see also National Archives, BT 31/19607/111181) and a new company, ‘George Broad & Son Ltd’ was set up, with George John Frederick Broad and his brother-in-law, Michael Stephen Salmon (1865-1918), as directors. The business became Broad, Salmon & Co by 1913. Salmon had married the elder George Broad’s daughter, Caroline Georgina, in 1890, and his brother Lewis Henry Salmon, a bank manager, married Broad’s younger daughter, Alice Maud, in 1893. In the 1901 census Salmon was recorded as a brass foundry assistant manager, age 35, and in 1911 as a bronze foundry manager. Michael Stephen Salmon died in 1918, age 53, at Muswell Hill, leaving effects of £252. The business then became Broad, Salmon & Co Ltd. It was dissolved in 1939 (London Gazette 26 September 1939). George John Frederick Broad moved to Canada (see Guelph Evening Mercury 15 September 1925, information from Paul Smyth via Steve Parlanti).
Works in sculpture (bronze unless stated): George Broad was casting small scale works in the late 1880s on the evidence of Edouard Lanteri’s sand cast medal, Robert Glassby, 1888 (Philip Attwood, Artistic Circles: the Medal in Britain 1880-1918, 1992, p.20). But it was not until 1891 or more probably the year before that Broad opened his foundry at the Adelaide Works in Hammersmith. It was there that he cast large-scale works for Alfred Gilbert in the 1890s. Gilbert expressly noted in January 1891 that the first section of the ‘fountain’, presumably meaning the Shaftesbury Memorial, was cast at Broad’s foundry in Hammersmith (Gilbert 1992 p.29).
Broad’s work for Gilbert included his bronze and aluminium Memorial to Lord Shaftesbury, the so-called Eros fountain, cast 1891-3, marked: BROAD & SON/ FOUNDERS (Piccadilly Circus, see Dorment 1985 pp.104-5, 108), the Monument to David Davies, 1890-3 (Barry Dock, Custom House, Dorment 1985 pp.120-1), the Memorial to Viscount Cantelupe, erected 1894, stolen 1968 (Bouldre, Hampshire, ex-St John’s Churchyard, Dorment 1985 pp.115, 121), the statue, Lord Reay, Governor of Bombay, with plinth panels, 1894-5 (Bombay, Vir Nariman Road, Dorment 1985 pp.116-7), the statue, John Howard, erected 1894 (Bedford, Market Square, Dorment 1985 pp.122-8), the statuette, St George, white metal and ivory, 1895 (Sandringham, St Mary Magdalene, Dorment 1986 p.162) and the effigy of the Duke of Clarence, cast 1895, part of the Memorial to the Duke of Clarence (Windsor, Albert Memorial Chapel, Dorment 1985 pp.153-5).
From his diary, Gilbert certainly knew Broad by January 1890 (Parlanti 2010 p.79). In 1895 he noted that his figures, Tragedy and Comedy, would need to be cast cire perdue in Brussels rather than by Broad (Gilbert 1992 p.18). Their relationship seems to have come to an end owing to Gilbert’s difficulties in paying for work. Gilbert complained in his diary in December 1897, ‘Broad (am doing best, think treatment hard)’ (Gilbert 1992 p.84). Subsequently Gilbert’s work was cast by Alessandro Parlanti (qv) but there are references to Broad in Gilbert’s diary in January 1899, primarily relating to retrieving models and castings (Gilbert 1987 pp.28-31).
Three statuettes by Gilbert with a provenance to Alice Salmon, Broad’s daughter are Perseus Arming, Victory and G.F. Watts (exhibited Fine Art Society 2008, see Sir Alfred Gilbert & the New Sculpture, no date, nos 44, 50, 63).
Other statues cast in the 1890s include Edward Onslow Ford's Sir William Pearce, 1894, marked: BROAD & SONS FOUNDERS LONDON (Glasgow, Govan Road, see Public Sculpture of Glasgow, p.184) and Horace Montford's seated Charles Darwin, 1897, marked: BROAD & SON. FOUNDERS. LONDON (Shrewsbury, Castle St, seePublic Sculpture of Herefordshire, Shropshire and Worcestershire, p.107).
George Broad died in 1895 and the Adelaide Works foundry appears to have closed by 1898, the last year in which it was listed in the Post Office London directory. Later small-scale bronzes produced by the business include A. Bruce-Joy’s pair of lions, 1913 (Halifax Memorial Tower, see Janus online catalogue of Cambridge University Archives) and Eric Gill’s statuette, Madonna and Child I, transferred into plaster for reworking and then cast in bronze in an edition of 7 by Broad, Salmon & Co, 1913 (Collins 1998 p.79).
Sources: Richard Dorment, Alfred Gilbert, 1985. For abbreviations, see Resources and bibliography.
Brogiotti, see Louis Brugiotti
*Bronze Age Sculpture Casting Foundry established 1989, Bronze Age Art Foundry Ltd by2000, 272 Island Row, Limehouse, Docklands, London E14 7HY by 2000-2014, Bronze Age Sculpture Casting Foundry, Gallery Building, Basin Approach, Limehouse, E14 7JG by 2015. Bronze sculpture founders.
The Bronze Age Sculpture Casting Foundry was set up in 1989 by the sculptor, Mark Kennedy, from New Zealand, initially for casting his own sculptures. By 2002 he was employing about 30 people (Public Sculpture of South London, p.424). In 2000, the foundry advertised casting in the finest quality bronze using the lost wax method (Society of Portrait Sculptors, 37th Annual Exhibition, exh. cat., 2000, p.71). It specialises in lost wax casting of bronze and aluminium and is run by Mark Kennedy as owner and Sue Triplow as manager.
In the Foundry Yearbook & Castings Buyers’ Directory, 2009, the business is recorded as using the Investment process, adding a note of its ability to work closely with artists, casting copper and alloys to 500kg and aluminium and alloys to 100kg.
The foundry has cast work for many sculptors including Jane Ackroyd, Edward Allington, Sir Anthony Caro, Helen Chadwick, Sean Henry and Nicolas Hicks (see Public Sculpture of South London, p.424). Other sculptors listed as clients on the foundry’s website include Fiona Banner, Nigel Boonham, Angela Conner, Antony Gormley, Philip Jackson, Cornelia Parker and Wendy Taylor.
Works in bronze: Examples of the foundry’s work in bronze from the 1990s and subsequently (*listed on the foundry’s website) include Linda Crook's medals, Bite Back, 1992, and Leda and the hat-pin, 1999 (example, British Museum; The Medal, vol.22, 1993, p.146, vol.35, 1999, p.133), Deborah Sadler's medal, Atlas, 1994 (The Medal, vol.25, 1994, p.158), Lawrence Holofcener’s seated figures, Allies: Churchill and Roosevelt, 1995, marked: HOLOFCENER/ Bronze Age (*London, Bond St, see Public Sculpture of Historic Westminster, vol.1, p.9) and the seated William Tyndale, standing William Penn and seated Thomas Chatterton, all 2000 (all Bristol, Millenium Square, see Public Sculpture of Bristol, pp.149-51) and Nicola Hicks’ figures for Monument for the Millennium, 1999 (The Temple, Church Court, see Public Sculpture of the City of London, pp.397-8) and Beetle, 2000 (Bristol, Anchor Square, see Public Sculpture of Bristol, p.154).
Works from 2000 onwards include Shenda Amery’s bust, Dame Cicely Saunders, 2002 (Lambeth, St Thomas’s Hospital, see Public Sculpture of South London, p.55), Fiona Banner’s Full Stops, 2003 (*outside Greater London Authority building), Douglas Jennings's Barack Obama, exh. 2010 (repr. Society of Portrait Sculptors, 47th Annual Exhibition, exh. cat., 2010, p.80), Ben Twiston-Davies’s Agatha Christie Memorial, 2012 (*London, Cranbourn St) and Sean Henry’s painted bronze standing Tim Berners-Lee, 2015 (*National Portrait Gallery). In 2012 the foundry cast Rachel Whiteread’s golden leaves which now decorate the façade of the Whitechapel Gallery (see Rachel Whiteread PressRelease.pdf on the Whitechapel’s website, accessed July 2015).
Sources: Terry Cavanagh, Public Sculpture of South London, 2007, p.424; Bronze Age Sculpture Casting Foundry’s website, accessed December 2010, July 2015, at www.bronzeage.co.uk.
The Bronze Art Foundry Syndicate Ltd, see Alexander Parlanti
The Bronze Foundry 1979-1992/3, The Mike Davis Foundry 1992/3-2000 or later, The Bronze Foundry 2004, St James St, New Bradwell, Milton Keynes, Buckinghamshire MK13 0BW. Bronze founders.
The Bronze Foundry in New Bradwell, Milton Keynes, was opened by Philomena Davidson Davis with her sculptor husband, Michael Frank Davis, in 1979. They had met on a postgraduate sculpture course at the Royal Academy Schools. Prior to that Michael Davis had studied industrial design and silversmithing at Loughborough College of Art. Various details in this account are taken from a letter from Michael Davis to the sculptor Kenneth Armitage soliciting business, 23 February 1991 (Tate Archive, TGA 20034/1/4/65).
The foundry operated as the Mike Davis Foundry from 1992/3 (Public Sculpture of Leicestershire and Rutland, p.357). In 2000, the foundry advertised that it had been established in 1979, offering 'a first class lost wax/ ceramic shell casting process for bronze' (Society of Portrait Sculptors, 37th Annual Exhibition, exh. cat., 2000, p.71). Information on the foundry has not been traced after 2004.
Works in bronze: Works cast at the foundry include Catharine Marr-Johnson’s Swans, 1984, rear swan (Battersea Bridge Road, see Public Sculpture of South London, p.282), Roy Noake’s bust, Alan Rawsthorne, 1965, cast 1986 (National Portrait Gallery) and Robert Turner’s Theodora Turner, 2002 (St Thomas’s Hospital, see Public Sculpture of South London, p.55).
In 1991, Michael Davis told Kenneth Armitage that he had undertaken a large amount of work for James Butler. Statues cast for Butler include Skipping Girl, 1985 (Harrow pedestrian precinct), The Leicester Seamstress, 1990 (Leicester, Hotel St, see Public Sculpture of Leicestershire and Rutland, p.130), J.H. Greathead, 1994 (Cornhill, see Public Sculpture of the City of London, p.84), James Brindley, 1998 (Coventry Canal Basin promontory), Duncan Edwards, 1999 (Dudley, Market Place, see Public Sculpture of Staffordshire and the Black Country, p.56) and the Fleet Air Arm Memorial, 2000 (Victoria Embankment, see Public Sculpture of South London, p.449).
Sources: Terry Cavanagh,Public Sculpture of South London, 2007, p.449. For abbreviations, see Resources and bibliography.
Lewis Brucciani 1822-1844, Domenico Brucciani 1845-1881, D. Brucciani & Co 1882-1906, D. Brucciani & Co Ltd 1906-1921. At Lower Lambeth Marsh, London 1822-1824, 15 Denton St, Somers Town 1824, 9 Winchester St, Pentonville 1827-1828, 131 Drury Lane 1828, 5 Little Russell St 1829-1860, 6-8 Little Russell St 1858-1860, street renamed and numbered 1860/1, 36 and 39 Russell St 1861-1864, Galleria delle Belle Arti, 40 Russell St WC 1864-1901, 254, 256, 258 Goswell Road, EC 1902-1921. Also at 58 Baker St 1853, 1 Leather Lane by 1857-1880, 13 Bucknall St 1895-1901. Figure maker 1822, Plaster figure man 1841, Formatore and modeller by 1850.
Lewis Brucciani (1785-1848) was born in Barga in 1785 and christened Antonio Luigi Brucciani (birth and christening information for Brucciani family members kindly provided by Bruno Caproni, July 2011). He came to England in about 1820 and was in business in Lambeth by 1822. His wife Lucy Brucciani (d.1838) took out insurance in 1824 in trust for him as an artificial flower manufacturer, and later the same year also as a plaster figure maker, but it was not until 1828 that Lewis Brucciani set up in business in Drury Lane. In the 1841 census he was recorded at 5 Little Russell St, as a figure maker, age 55 (ages were rounded down to the nearest five in this census), together with his British-born second wife, Ann, age 40, his nephew, Dominic Brucciani, also a figure maker, age 25, born overseas, and Mary, age 20, British-born. He retired to Barga in about 1844, dying there in 1848 (information from Bruno Caproni).
Domenico Brucciani took over the business but not before he had traded independently (see below). He was the nephew of another figure maker, Nicholas or Nicolao Brucciani (b.1780), who married in London in 1832 and who can be found at 24 Wellington Terrace, Waterloo Road from 1839 to 1843. Nicholas’s age was given as 60 in the 1841 census. There was a Joseph Brucciani selling figures in Newcastle in 1837 (Newcastle Journal 10 June 1837). Two further Italian plaster figure makers by the name of Brucciani, both born at Barga, close to Lucca, were recorded in the 1881 census in Camberwell, Raffaele, age 24, and Pietro, age 19. The village of Brucciano, near Barga, presumably gives rise to the Brucciani name.
Domenico Brucciani (1814-80) was born in Barga in 1814, the son of Vincenzo Brucciani, and christened Domenico Antonio Brucciani. He was living with his uncle, Lewis Brucciani, at the tome of the 1841 London census. In the 1851 census, his age was recorded as 33 and his occupation as ‘Professor of Modelling in Clay’ (information from Peter Malone). He married firstly Mary Ann Richardson in 1841 at St Martin-in-the-Fields, and secondly Eliza Sumner, as Domenico Giovanni Brucciani, in 1846 at Richmond. He traded from Little Russell St from 1829. He also traded in the 1850s from 1 Leather Lane in partnership with Giovanni Graziani as plaster figure makers, a business which he continued following the dissolution of the partnership in 1857 (London Gazette 20 March 1857). When Brucciani’s new premises, the Galleria delle Belle Arti, opened at 40 Russell St in 1864, the size of his new gallery of casts was given as 100 by 25 feet (Art Journal, vol.3, 1864, p.330).
Brucciani worked as a modeller for the South Kensington Museum (now the Victoria and Albert Museum) and the British Museum, taking casts of items in their collections and supplying other casts. He described himself as ‘Formatore [i.e., maker] & Modeller to the Science and Art Department’, as well as to the British Museum and the Royal Academy of Arts, on his handsome blue invoice paper (examples from 1870s, National Portrait Gallery records, Duplicates of Accounts, vol.1, pp.71-3, 104).
Brucciani received an appointment from the Science and Art Department in July 1852 to instruct students in the School of Design in moulding at a salary of £35 a year (Précis, Board Minutes, Science and Art Department, vol.1, V&A Archive, ED 84/35). He appears to have been appointed to take casts in 1853 or 1854, according to evidence gathered for a legal case in the 1890s when it was stated that a competition was held when the School of Design moved to Marlborough House in which four figure makers, Brucciani, a Mr Caproni, a Mr Sacchi and a Mr Ambrosi were each asked to make a mould of a relief, The Dancing Girl with Wreath, in competition for the appointment as ‘Modeller and Caster to the School of Design’ (V&A Archive, MA/1/B3087, 23 April 1894). At the British Museum, he was appointed formatore in 1857, following the death of William Pink (qv), and used premises at 196 High Holborn to store the museum’s moulds (Jenkins 1990 p.108). His foreman, Saverio Biagiotti, succeeded him as formatore to the museum in 1881.
Brucciani died at the age of 65 in 1880, leaving a personal estate of under £4000. His will, recording him as of 40 Russell St, Covent Garden, and 1 Leather Lane, was proved by two of his executors, Giuseppe Caproni (qv), modeller of 148 and 162 Gray’s Inn Road, and Thomas Carr Artaud, upholsterer of 71 Baker St. Following his death, his business and stock-in-trade were advertised for sale (The Times 26 May 1880). By 1891, an individual by the name of Caproni was trading as D. Brucciani & Co (The Times 10 December 1891), probably Joseph Caproni, a plaster figure maker and moulder, born in Italy but living in London since at least 1868. There were subsequent close connections between the Caproni and Brucciani families, as is apparent from the record of the birth in 1926 of Enrico Brucciani to a mother by the maiden name of Caproni.
The Brucciani business became a limited company in 1905, at which time there were seven shareholders, mainly the children of Mary Ryan, née Brucciani (b. c.1832), led by Paul Joseph Ryan (1867-1954), a modeller, as managing director (National Archives, BT 31/17490/85058). In 1910, the British Museum published a 34-page catalogue, List of casts from sculpture in the departments of antiquities: sold by Messrs. Brucciani & Co (copy in British Museum, Prehistory and Europe Library). Ryan died in 1954, leaving effects of £1375.
By the time of the First World War, as the demand for plaster casts declined, the company found itself in difficulties, as was reported in 1916 (The Times 26 December 1916). In response to the threat that their unique collection of plaster moulds and casts might be dispersed, a petition led by Sir Edward Poynter PRA, that the Government should purchase the collection, was addressed to the Prime Minister but without success. The shipowner, Sir William Petersen, then supplied the means for the company to carry on during the war. The business went into liquidation in 1921 (London Gazette 15 July 1921).
The company was taken over by the Board of Education and run by Paul Ryan for the Victoria and Albert Museum as a service, renamed the Department for the Sale of Casts, until financial losses forced its closure in 1951. The moulds were transferred to the British Museum in 1955 (Clifford 1992 p.49). The Department for the Sale of Casts, ‘in succession to D. Brucciani & Co’, produced illustrated trade catalogues of reproductions, the earliest apparently dating to October 1922, with 29 pages and 27 plates of illustrations.
Works in sculpture: The nature of Domenico Brucciani’s stock can be traced from his trade publications. A catalogue of casts, from 5 Little Russell St, thus probably dating to the 1840s or 1850s, claimed to offer the largest collection in Europe of antique and modern statuary, Greek, Roman and mediaeval ornament, ‘to be viewed gratis’. Brucciani claimed to have extended his stock by importing from Rome, Paris, etc, a large assortment of the best works of modern artists. These included casts of works by Thorwaldsen, Canova, Sir Richard Westmacott, Baily, Gibson, and Flaxman (Catalogue of Casts for sale by D. Brucciani, n.d., 50pp, plus Catalogue of Casts from Mediaeval Art, V&A National Art Library, 37.R Box XI). A catalogue from 40 Russell St, thus dating to the 1860s or 1870s, offered a similar range, also advertising that subjects could be supplied in artificial stone for gardens and parks (Catalogue of Reproductions of Antique and Modern Sculpture, 56pp, V&A National Art Library, 37.X.60, as ).
Various contemporary works were produced by the Brucciani. Lewis Brucciani published a painted an under life-size plaster bust, Queen Caroline, 1820, marked: PUB. BY. L. BRUCCAINI. AUG.23. 1820. LONDON. (Gerrards auction room, Lytham St Annes, Lancs, 10 July 2015 lot 1287, information from Peter Malone). He published plaster and bronze versions of Chantrey’s Duke of Wellington, 20 March 1836 (see Walker 1985 p.529). Domenico Brucciani advertised his life-size busts, The Princess Royal and The Prince of Prussia in 1858 (The Times 14 January 1858). He took a cast of William Makepeace Thackeray’s right hand at his death, 1863, for his friend, Sir Henry Thompson, who bequeathed it to the Fitzwilliam Museum. A collection of animals by ‘eminent Artists in Paris, &c’ were featured in Brucciani’s catalogue dating to 1880 or before. An example from a sculptor based in London is Joseph Edgar Boehm’s Thoroughbred Gelding, marked: D. BRUCCIANI & Co LONDON, and therefore probably after 1881 (Ashmolean Museum, see Penny 1992 p.13).
Brucciani supplied various casts for the collection at the Crystal Palace in 1853, including most expensively that of Le Sueur's equestrian Charles I with its pedestal for £310 (John Kenworthy-Browne, 'Plaster casts for the Crystal Palace, Sydenham', Sculpture Journal, vol.15, 2006, p.182; Illustrated London News 19 March 1853, p.224; see also Rebecca Wade, ‘The production and display of Domenico Brucciani’s plaster cast of Hubert Le Sueur's equestrian statue of Charles I’, Sculpture Journal, vol.23, 2014, pp.250-5).
Brucciani’s most important commission for the South Kensington Museum was the casting of the 12th-century Portico de la Gloria, an 18-metre wide section of the façade of the cathedral at Santiago de Compostela, undertaken in 1866 (see Malcolm Baker, 'A Glory to the Museum: The Casting of the Portico de la Gloria', V&A Album, vol.1, 1982, pp.101-8, for a detailed account of the difficulties faced by Brucciani).
The Fitzwilliam Museum used Brucciani over many years (see Sources below). In 1850 Brucciani was paid £5 for cleaning and repairing casts and the substantial sum of £100 for moving the Kirkpatrick collection of casts to the Fitzwilliam. In 1877 various casts of ancient sculpture work were cleaned and repaired by Brucciani. In the period 1880-6, the Fitzwilliam, followed by the Museum of Classical Archaeology, Cambridge, purchased some 34 classical casts from Brucciani, a cast of the Esquiline Aphrodite for £6 in 1885, marked: D. BRUCCIANI & Co/ LONDON, and also paid Brucciani & Co the considerable sum of £157.13s.3d in 1884 for repairing casts damaged in transit from Athens and Naples. Thereafter, purchases continued to be made from Brucciani & Co until at least 1913, including a statue of Hercules for £14.10s in 1891, one of the most expensive acquisitions, and busts of Napoleon for sale at the Fitzwilliam in 1901 and subsequently. Eight plaster statues of classical sculptures in the entrance hall at the Fitzwilliam were supplied by Brucciani in 1891, costing from £5 to £10.
The National Portrait Gallery owns 24 works associated with Brucciani (see National Portrait Gallery - Domenico Brucciani). Various electrotypes were made for the Gallery, 1869-77, by Elkington & Co (qv) from casts commissioned by the Gallery from Brucciani. A number of plasters made by Brucciani were acquired from various sources, 1878-1911. The Ashmolean Museum has a cast of the Laocoon group, marked: D. Brucciani & Co, and the Royal Academy owns ten plaster casts purchased from D. Brucciani & Co and so presumably dating to 1882 or later. The artists’ suppliers, Charles Roberson & Co, purchased various plaster casts from Brucciani & Co, costing some £28, in 1883 (Hamilton Kerr Institute, MS 183-1993).
D. Brucciani & Co Ltd branched out into selling electrotypes in the early years of the 20th century (see catalogue and pricelist, Electrotype Reproductions of Cretan Treasures, Mycenaean Treasures, Arretine Vases, Hildesheim Silver-Treasure-Trove, n.d. but c.1908-14).
The business also repaired sculpture. It repaired one of the casts in the Flaxman Gallery for University College London in 1890 but most of the work went to the British Museum (UCL Art Museum, Flaxman Gallery dossier, p.109; see also the Flaxman Gallery in this online resource). D. Brucciani & Co Ltd worked for the National Portrait Gallery, 1912-20, mainly on plaster busts, for example, cleaning and colouring six plaster casts by Woolner for £3.3s in 1912, ‘Removing old paint & colouring Black Bronze’ George Gammon Adams’s Sir Charles Napier for £2.2s in 1914, and treating in a similar manner 33 plaster casts for £52.16s in 1915 (National Portrait Gallery records, Duplicates of Accounts, vol.7, pp.79, 112, 134, 150, vol.8, p.42). Subsequently, the Victoria and Albert Museum, as successors to Brucciani, undertook somewhat similar work for the National Portrait Gallery, including for example repairing Rysbrack’s terracotta, Sir Robert Walpole, for £5 in 1926 and providing a bronze cast of Thomas Brock’s Baron Lister for £45 in 1927 (National Portrait Gallery, Duplicates of Accounts, vol.9, p.57; RP 1958A).
Sources:Information on the birth and christening of members of the Brucciani family kindly provided by Bruno Caproni, July 2011. See also Francis Haskell and Nicholas Penny, Taste and the Antique: The Lure of Classical Sculpture 1500-1900, 1981, pp.117-8, 121-3 (for the supply of casts after the antique).
London Metropolitan Archives: Sun Fire Office policy registers, 344/1184057, 496/1019230, 500/1019514, 512/1063656, 518/1094287, 519/1084751, 527/1109487, 530/1125769, 544/1184057, 550/1208380, 570/1306948.
Fitzwilliam Museum: Management Syndicate minute book, appended accounts for year to Michaelmas 1850 and reports, 18 March 1884 and 5 November 1901; Annual Report, 1877; bills and accounts, 1891-1919, housed in boxes 213-214; accounts ledger, 1884-1937, stock no.960692.
National Archives, Treasury Board Papers and In-Letters, T 1/12516 (for records relating to the Board of Education’s acquisition of the business, 1920); Dept of Education and Science and predecessors, Establishment Files ED 23/540 (for records, 1919-34, on taking over the business and its subsequent reorganisation). For abbreviations, see Resources and bibliography.
Louis Brugiotti, 1 Leather Lane, London 1841, 4 Leather Lane 1845-1885, 99 Leather Lane by 1851-1885. Plaster cast figure maker.
Louis or Luigi Brugiotti (c.1818-1888), figure maker of 4 Leather Lane, married Elizabeth Weaver at St Andrew Holborn in 1845, when his father was named as Christoforo Brugiotti, dyer. The same year, Peter Brugiotti, modeller, perhaps Louis’s older brother, was married in Marylebone (naming Christopher Brugiotti, farmer, as his father); he had been in business as a figure maker since at least 1832 (Robson’s London directory, as at 36 Liquorpond St).
In London directories Louis Brugiotti was recorded as Bugiotti in 1846 and 1847, while in census records he can be found as Brogiotti, Baugiotti, Brugotte and Brugiotti, described as a figure maker or plaster figure maker. He was listed in 1841 at 1 Leather Lane, together with Anthony Brugiotti, two years his senior at age 24, and at 99 Leather Lane from 1861 to 1881, always with his wife, in 1861 as born in Tuscany, in 1871 with his nephew John Hibberd, and in 1881 with three frame or cabinet makers of Italian origin. For much of the 1840s, the premises at 1 Leather Lane were occupied by Vincent Marchetti or Merchitti, Spanish figure maker.
From 1872 the business generally traded as Luigi Brugiotti, rather than Louis. From 1881, Brugiotti adopted the spelling, Brogiotti, as can be seen from the 1881 census and London directories from 1882 until 1885. He was succeeded in business by Giuseppe Baldacci, another plaster figure maker, Italian-born but in America for some years. He died age 69 in 1888 in the Islington.
Brugiotti’s name, like that of Sani (qv), was appropriated for a novel of the period, but set in the 1790s, Frank Barrett’s Honest Davie, a novel, 1883.
Works in plaster: Brugiotti produced busts, medical casts and decorative work. Surviving busts include a small bronzed bust, W.C. Macready, 1847, marked: Pubshd by/ Ls Brugiotti/ No 4 Leather/ Lane/ April 6th/ London 1847 (private coll., information from Osmund Bullock, October 2011), a cast of a bust of the founder of St Bartholomew’s Hospital, Rahere, 1881?, marked: L. Blogiott? 4 Leather Lane 1881? (St Bartholomew’s Hospital, correspondence on V&A Sculpture Dept files) and a cast of Scheemakers’ bust, William Harvey, marked: L. BRUGIOTTI, 99 LEATHER LANE (Royal College of Physicians, see Gordon Wolstenholme, Royal College of Physicians of London, Portraits, 1964, p.210). Brugiotti also published a bust of Shakespeare (examples, National Theatre of Kenya, and Dreweatts, Bristol, 15 June 2006 lot 521, information from Osmund Bullock, October 2011).
For teaching purposes at Great Ormond St hospital in the 1870s and 1880s, the founder Dr Charles West used Brugiotti to make plaster casts of body parts to illustrate medical conditions (surviving casts now form part of UCL Art Museums & Collections, see The Body in Pieces: Fragments from the UCL Great Ormond Street Hospital Collection, 2011, formerly available at www.ucl.ac.uk).
Decorative work of one sort or another include a painted plaster lamp, Hebe, marked: L. Brugiotti 18_3, 4 99 Leather Lane, Holborn London (Sotheby’s Olympia 18 September 2002 lot 326), a pair of bronzed plaster female figures supporting lamps, inscribed: Mar? 7. 1816 H. Hopp/ London. L BROGIOTTI/ 99 LEATHER LANE, presumablyfrommoulds or casts purchased by Brugiotti after the death of Humphrey Hopper (qv) in 1844 (with Brownrigg @ Home Ltd, 2012, information from Peter Malone), a plinth in florid style, marked: ‘Brugiotti, 99 Leather Lane’ (Bath antiques fair, March 2008, information from Peter Malone) and, for the shop of John Bennett, watch and clockmaker at 65 Cheapside, he modelled ‘richly painted effigies of Gog and Magog… from the Guildhall giants’, 1869 or before (Journal of the British Archaeological Association, vol.25, 1869, p.279).
*Conrad Bührer, London by 1881, studio or teaching addresses in London: Merton Villa Studios, Manresa Road, Chelsea 1898-1892, Onslow College, 183 King's Road 1894-1896, 6 Holland Park Road Studios 1897, residential addresses, in London unless specified: 15 Waterford Road, Fulham 1889-1891, 91 Edith Grove, Chelsea 1891-1892, 16 Church St, Chelsea 1891-1894, 89 Maida Vale 1895, 40 St Clement's Mansions, Fulham 1899-1906 or later, Gloucester Road, Malmesbury, Wiltshire by 1911-1915, 47 Uxbridge Road, Bayswater 1922-1923, 6 Earl's Court Square, W12 1930. Sculptor, bronze founder and teacher.
Of Swiss nationality but apparently born in Stetten, now Szczecin, Poland (Benizet, Saur), Conrad Bührer (1852-1937) trained in Zurich, Frankfurt-am-Main and Paris, where he was a fellow-student of the sculptor Alfred Gilbert. For Bührer’s early portrait busts, see Benizet in Sources below. He followed Gilbert to London and assisted him in the 1880s until a violent quarrel ended their association, according to Bührer’s son, Adrian Bury, in his autobiography (see Sources below). Bührer had married Gilbert’s sister, the pianist, Pauline Catherine Maud Gilbert, in the Chelsea district in 1881. It would seem that he maintained studio or teaching addresses in London from 1888 until 1897, according to the provisional analysis above, as well as residential addresses (in 1895 89 Maida Vale, his wife’s address at the time of their marriage). Bührer faced financial problems, as did his brother-in-law, Alfred Gilbert. He died age 84 in 1937 in the Kensington district.
Bührer exhibited at Royal Academy, mainly portrait busts, on six occasions between 1882 and 1930, and at the New English Art Club and the New Gallery. He can be found in censuses in 1891 as a sculptor at 15 Waterford Road, Fulham, in 1901 as a sculptor working on own account at 40 St Clement’s Mansions, Fulham and in 1911 as a sculptor and employer working at home in Malmesbury, Wiltshire.
Bührer’s son, Adrian Bury, described him as a figure prominent in the art world of the 1890s, identifying him as a good teacher of sculpture (Adrian Bury, Shadow of Eros: a biographical and critical study of the life and works of Sir Alfred Gilbert, 1952, p.90). Bührer ran a school of modelling for ladies in Chelsea, known as the Onslow College of Art, 1893-6, under the patronage of Violet future Duchess of Rutland and Lord Wemyss, as he advertised in May 1893 and then again in September, when additionally he offered instruction in bronze and silver casting in cire perdue ‘as practiced by Benvenuto Cellini’ (Morning Post 25 May, 30 September 1893). Later, he taught modelling in clay at the Grosvenor Life School, 1900-4 (adverts, The Year’s Art, 1900, p.423, 1904, p.513, The Studio, vol.26, 1902, p.ii).
Work as a founder: Bührer was said to be casting his statuette of the goddess Diana in his foundry at Hampstead at the time of his son’s birth in 1891, according to his son’s much later autobiography.
Bührer’s work as a founder is poorly documented and seems to belong to the late 1880s and early 1890s. It includes Edouard Lanteri’s cire perdue medal, Julio Monticelli, 1888 (British Museum, see Philip Attwood, Artistic Circles: The Medal in Britain 1880-1918, 1992, p.20, no.20), Henry Alfred Pegram’s bronze roundel, Ignis Fatuus, 1889, faintly signed: C. Buhrer/ Lond[on] or Found[er] (Tate, N01756), Thomas Stirling Lee’s cire perdue figures and reliefs for W.D. Caröe’s Adelphi Bank doors, 1892, when Lee and Bührer were occupying adjacent studios in Manresa Road, Chelsea (Liverpool, Castle St, see Public Sculpture of Liverpool, p.15; Chelsea electoral register, 1892). Bührer is said to have cast several works for Lord Leighton, Alfred Gilbert and Harry Bates and to have produced garden ornaments, figures and fountains in lead and bronze (two obituaries probably by his son, Adrian, see Sources below).
In 1894 Bührer was commissioned to execute a silver statuette of Sir Walter Raleigh for the mess room of the Royal Naval College, Greenwich, going so far as to produce an excellent model but failing to deliver the statuette, according to a later newspaper report (Aberdeen Weekly Journal 2 November 1898); a court judgment was obtained against him in 1897 but ‘after his landlord’s claim for rent had been satisfied there was said to have been very little goods left’ and the following year he refused to attend court and was committed to prison for a month for contempt of court.
Sources: A.B. [probably Adrian Bury, Bührer’s son, born Albert Bührer], ‘Sculptor and Bronze Caster’, obituary for Conrad Bührer, The Connoisseur, vol.99, 1937, p.222; obituary, probably by Adrian Bury, The Times 10 March 1937; Adrian Bury, Just a Moment, Time: some recollections of a versatile life in art, literature and journalism [autobiography], 1967, pp.1-2, 5-6; Saur Allegemeines Künstler-Lexikon, vol.15, 1997; Benezit Dictionary of Artists, 2006; 'Conrad Bührer', Mapping the Practice and Profession of Sculpture in Britain and Ireland 1851-1951, University of Glasgow History of Art and HATII, online database, 2011, at http://sculpture.gla.ac.uk, accessed 13 August 2015.
George Bullock (1782/3-1818), Birmingham, Liverpool and London. Cabinet maker, sculptor, modeller. William Bullock (c.1782-1849), Birmingham, Liverpool and London. Artist and naturalist, auctioneer.
Outside the scope of this online resource but see Clive Wainwright (ed.), George Bullock: Cabinet-maker, H. Blairman & Sons, 1988; Clive Wainwright, in DEFM; Clifford 1992 pp.49-50; Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, 2004; Roscoe 2009; Mark Westgarth, Dictionary of Nineteenth Century Antique and Curiosity Dealers, Regional Furniture 2009, 2010. For abbreviations, see Resources and bibliography.
Burleighfield Arts Ltd, Sculpture Casting Studios, London Road, Loudwater, High Wycombe, Buckinghamshire HP10 9RF 1977-2003. Bronze founders.
From 1968 sculpture exhibitions were held by Patrick Reyntiens (b.1925), the stained glass artist, in his garden at Burleighfield House at Loudwater in Buckinghamshire (The Times 13 September 1968, 3 October 1968, 22 September 1969). Subsequently, Burleighfield became an arts centre.
The Burleighfield foundry opened for business in April 1977, according to its newsletter announcing that Burleighfield International Arts Centre would reopen under new management and would provide sculpture casting facilities by the lost wax and sand piece-moulding processes, with Eric Gibbard as managing director, Dennis Ball as his deputy and Ted Knell directing the casting process (foundry newsletter, Tate Archive, TGA 20034/1/4/71). All three men had previously worked at Morris Singer (qv), Gibbard from about 1957, in his later years as managing director, and Ball as foundry manager by 1972 (National Portrait Gallery records, RP 2465a; Henry Moore Institute, Leeds, Thornycroft archive, 592; Tate Archive, TGA 20034/1/4/240/13). Ted Knell (b.1932) began foundry work at Corinthian Bronze (qv) in Peckham, moving to Morris Singer in Lambeth. In 1996, he was named by Country Life as a ‘Living National Treasure’ (Country Life, vol.190, 13 June 1996, pp.104-5).
The foundry was based in a building originally built by Reyntiens to make stained glass windows for Liverpool Cathedral. Burleighfield advertised in 1978 its ‘Sculpture-Casting Studios for work in bronze & other non-ferrous metals', and in 1981 that it offered ‘sculpture casting of all sizes, using the most modern processes available, including CO2 sand moulding, ceramic shell lost wax moulding, Argon Arc welding and high pressure water cleaning’ (Society of Portrait Sculptors, Annual Exhibition, exh. cat., 1978, p.53, and 1981, p.43).
When the trust responsible for Burleighfield ran into difficulties in 1981, its chairman, John Hastings, provided capital for the foundry to carry on as an independent company. In 1987, it was reported that Eric Gibbard was retiring and that he had also been director of the celebrated Susse Fondeur in Paris (Foundry Trade Journal, vol.161, 1987, p.347). In 1989 Polestar Ltd acquired control of the business (and subsequently in 1995 acquired Susse Fondeur, which in 2003 was acquired in turn by Hubert Lacroix).
When the three original directors retired, the foundry was continued under Paul Dimishky, Gibbard’s son-in-law, producing bronze sculpture and architectural metalwork. In January 2003 Burleighfield Arts Ltd was put into liquidation (London Gazette 30 January 2003). In July 2003, the foundry business was absorbed into Nautilus Fine Art (qv), under a holding company, Art Founders Ltd (qv), with the combined business operating from Nautilus’s site at Braintree.
Works in bronze:The foundry worked for organisations such as Tate and the Yorkshire Sculpture Park, and for sculptors including Kenneth Armitage, David Backhouse, Elizabeth Frink, Philip Jackson, Oscar Nemon and many others, according to Zahra Modern Art Foundries’ former website.
The foundry was used by both Kenneth Armitage and Elizabeth Frink in its first year, 1977 (for Armitage, see Tate Archive, TGA 20034/1/4/71; for Frink, see Kenneth Gosling, ‘A halfway house for artists’, The Times 7 October 1977). Armitage brought work to Burleighfield for many years, starting with his Figure on Its Back and Bernadette going to Wales in July 1977, and continuing until 2000; one of his last commissions was Both Arms, 1999 (Leeds, Millennium Square). A full record of his commissions can be found in his papers (Tate Archive, TGA 20034/1/4/71).
Frink used the foundry until her death in 1993 (Ratuszniak 2013 p.192). An exhibition of bronzes cast at Burleighfield, including the work of Elizabeth Frink and Lynn Chadwick was held at the Alwin Gallery in 1985 (The Times 23 February 1985). Works by Frink cast at the foundry include Walking Madonna, 1981 (Salisbury Cathedral Close) and Seated Man II, 1986 (Frink Estate and Yorkshire Sculpture Park), both marked: BURLEIGHFIELD/ ENGLAND.
Philip Jackson has identified Burleighfield as one of the businesses used by him for casting his large and medium-sized works, the others being Morris Singer and, for small-scale works, Lunts of Birmingham (Philip Jackson: Sculpture since 1987, 2002, p.24).
Examples of the foundry’s work from the 1980s and subsequently include David Backhouse's Cloaked Horseman, 1984 (Bristol, Lewins Mead, see Public Sculpture of Bristol, p.137), Enzo Plazzotta’s Young Dancer, 1988, marked: BURLEIGHFIELD/ ENGLAND (Bow St, opposite Royal Opera House, see Public Sculpture of Historic Westminster, vol.1, p.10), Faith Winter’s statues, Lord Dowding, 1988, Sir Arthur ‘Bomber’ Harris, 1992, both marked: BURLEIGHFIELD (both The Strand, outside St Clement Danes, see Public Sculpture of Historic Westminster, vol.1, pp.265-7) and General Sikorski, 1999, marked: Burleighfield Arts (Portland Place, see foundry newsletter, December 1999, Tate Archive, TGA 20034/1/4/240/13, Public Sculpture of Historic Westminster, vol.1, p.233), Shirley Pace’s The Circle Dray Horse, installed 1987 (Queen Elizabeth St, Bermondsey, see Public Sculpture of South London, p.184), Wendy Taylor’s large-scale Globe Sundial, 1987 (Swansea marina, see Foundry Trade Journal, vol.162, 1988, p.115) and Vincent Butler's Springburn Heritage and Hope, 1988-9 (Glasgow, Springburn, Atlas Square, see Public Sculpture of Glasgow, p.11).
From the 1990s, Robert Olley's Merchant Navy Memorial, 1990 (South Shields, Customs House Arts Centre, see Public Sculpture of North-East England, p.173), Neil Lawson-Baker’s Sterling, unveiled 1990 (Great Eastern Wharf, Battersea, see Public Sculpture of South London, p.306), Portcullis and Crown, 1991 (House of Commons building, No.1 Parliament St, entrance lobby, see foundry newsletter, December 1991, Tate Archive, TGA 20034/1/4/240/13) and The Sword, 1998 (Kuala Lumpur, see Public Sculpture of South London, p.424), Jane Taylor’s Piper Alpha Memorial, 1991 (Aberdeen, Hazelhead Park, see foundry newsletter as above), Gilbert Bayes’s statue, Robert Owen, 1953, cast 1994 (Manchester, Corporation St, see Public Sculpture of Greater Manchester, pp.66-7), Miles Davies's Aquaduct, 1995 (Birmingham, Brindleyplace, see Public Sculpture of Birmingham, p.14), Nigel Boonham’s The Kissing Bridge, 1998 (Brighton, New England Road, see Public Sculpture of Sussex, p.32) and Elena Engleson’s The Tiger, 1999 (Oslo, see Public Sculpture of South London, p.424).
From the 2000s, Marcus Cornish’s The Stag, 2000 (Grosvenor Gardens, see Public Sculpture of South London, p.424) and John Fowler's bust, Dan Dare, 2000 (Southport, Atkinson Art Gallery, see Public Sculpture of Cheshire and Merseyside, p.198).
Sources: Zahra Modern Art Foundries website, accessed December 2010, at www.zmaf.co.uk but no longer available; Ted Knell’s website, accessed December 2010, August 2015, but no longer available; Polestar Ltd’s website, accessed January 2011, August 2015, with news statement dated 8 October 2003, detailing Polestar’s involvement, at www.polestarltd.com/news/100803.htm. For abbreviations, see Resources and bibliography.