British bronze sculpture founders and plaster figure makers, 1800-1980 - C
An online resource, launched in 2011, selectively updated twice yearly. Last updated March 2020. Contributions are welcome, to Jacob Simon at [email protected]
Enrico Cantoni, Blenheim St, Chelsea, London 1889, 4 Blenheim St 1890, 38 Glebe Place, Chelsea 1891, 43 Glebe Place 1891-1893, 100 Church St, Chelsea 1893-1923. Plaster modeller, sculptors’ moulder and bronze founder.
The plaster figure maker and sculptors’ moulder, Enrico Cantoni (c.1859-1923), was in England by 1881. He married Florence Landi in 1888 in the Holborn district, possibly a relation of Daniel Landi (qv). Cantoni died in 1923, age 64, in the Chelsea district, leaving effects worth £1914. Documentation on Cantoni is scarce but he seems to have occupied an important role within his field.
In the 1881 census, Henry Cantoni was recorded at 162-4 Gray’s Inn Rd as a plaster figure maker in the household of Raffaello Sani (qv), also a plaster figure maker. By 1889 he had set up independently. In subsequent censuses, Cantoni was listed in 1891 at 43 Glebe Place, Chelsea as a plaster moulder, age 31, with his wife Florence, and in 1901 and 1911 at 100 Church St as a sculptors’ moulder, working at home, a widower with his son Mario and daughter Irene, his son as his assistant, age 21, in 1911. David McGill exhibited a bronze bust of 'Enrico Cantone, Esq' at the Royal Academy in 1894 (Bilbey 2002 p.251). Cantoni registered his mark as a silver maker in 1903 (Culme 1987 p.73).
Cantoni acted as moulder to the Royal College of Art, c.1904 (see articles on casting in plaster, Arts and Crafts Magazine, vols 1-2, Hutchinson and Co, 1904) and as a teacher at the Central School of Arts and Crafts, c.1909, providing demonstrations in plaster casting, piecemould, waste and gelatine methods (London County Council Central School of Arts and Crafts. Prospectus & Time-Table of Day Classes & Day School of Art for Women, Session 1908-1909, 1908, p.25). This information comes from ‘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 10 August 2015.
Works in sculpture: Cantoni worked extensively for the Department of Science and Art at the South Kensington Museum, later the Victoria and Albert Museum, 1892-1912, producing numerous reproductive plaster casts and fictile ivories for museums across the British Isles and overseas, including Edinburgh, Dublin, Birmingham, Sheffield and many smaller institutions, as is documented in the Victoria and Albert Museum’s extensive ‘Enrico Cantoni nominal file’ (V&A Archive, MA/1/C338; see also Bilbey 2002 p.251, where his association with the museum is given as starting in 1882). By 1893, Cantoni was using his memorandum paper to describe himself as a 'Moulder for Sculptors. Also bronzing and colouring', subsequently in 1903 designating himself a ‘Bronze founder & moulder for sculptors’. The fullest range of his services is set out on his invoice paper, dated 21 June 1911, when he appears as ‘Moulder. Mouldings and Castings of all Descriptions for Sculptors. Plaster Casts supplied for Schools. Casting in Bronze by lost wax known as the Cera Perduta Process, and also Bronzing and Colouring’. Towards the end of his 20 year association with the museum, Cantoni was described by a museum official as having been ‘almost on the footing of an agent of the Board for casting work because he is cheaper and better than other firms and can be trusted to handle the Museum objects’ (V&A Archive, MA/1/C338, M2992/13).
In 1908 Cantoni supplied the Victoria and Albert Museum with a posthumous bronze cast of Jules Dalou’s statuette, Rosalind, Countess of Carlyle, 1872, which he made together with a tinted plaster cast (Victoria and Albert Museum, see Bilbey 2002 p.251 for the bronze). It used to be suggested that Cantoni was the only founder used by Dalou during his stay in England in the 1870s (Michael Le Marchant of the Bruton Gallery is so quoted in Ruth Butler and Suzanne G. Lindsay, European Sculpture of the Nineteenth Century, National Gallery of Art, 2000, p.110). However, Cantoni was too young to play such a role and there is no evidence of his work as a bronze founder before 1900. It remains no more than a possibility that he subsequently produced some of the later casts of Dalou’s head of Alphonse Legros, which was modelled c.1876 (examples, National Portrait Gallery, National Museum of Wales, Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge, as noted in the discussion of the cast in the National Gallery of Art, Washington, in Butler and Lindsay, cited above, p.110).
In bronze, Cantoni’s earliest known work is the bust, Sir Humphry Davy, in 1900 for the Royal Institution (see Frank A.J.L. James, ‘The Common Purposes of Life’: Science and Society at the Royal Institution of Great Britain, 2002, p.77). He cast Oliver Sheppard’s bronze bust, Henry Kirke White, for Nottingham in 1902 (Nottingham Castle Museum and Art Gallery), as well as 16 bronze surrounds to Sheppard’s design, to house commemorative plaques (John Turpin, Oliver Sheppard, 1865-1941: Symbolist Sculptor of the Irish Cultural Revival, 2000, pp.102-3; Stuart Burch, ‘The Holbrook Bequest for commemorative plaques: Tradition… in Victoria Nottingham’, Transactions of the Thoroton Society of Nottinghamshire, vol.105, 2002, p.159). Cantoni may have produced two large posthumous casts for the Leicester Galleries of Frederic Leighton's Athlete wrestling with the Python, c.1908-10 (Silber 2012 p.136). Subsequently, he supplied Ivan Meštrović’s bronze bust, Sir Thomas Beecham, 1915 (Tate, see Ronald Alley, Catalogue of the Tate Gallery's collection of Modern Art, other than works by British artists, 1981, p.511).
In plaster, Cantoni supplied various casts to the Fitzwilliam Museum in 1894 including one of David and the Head of Goliath at £6 and another of a relief cast from marble, Presentation of the Keys to St Peter at £1 plus 3s for colouring, presumably from the Victoria and Albert Museum Donatello relief of which there is still a cast in the Fitzwilliam (Fitzwilliam Museum Library, box 213, account 28 February 1894). Cantoni was requested by the Italian government in 1895 to take casts of Pietro Torrigiano’s monuments to Henry VII and to his mother, Margaret Beaufort, Duchess of Richmond in Westminster Abbey (V&A Archive, MA/1/C338). He worked for the Alfred Stevens Memorial Committee in 1911, producing plaster casts of caryatids for a reproduction of Alfred Stevens’s Dorchester House chimneypiece (Tate, see The Times 26 July 1929; see also Kenneth Romney Towndrow, Alfred Stevens, 1939, p.155). A pair of plaster casts of Stevens's Lions Sejant, an 1852 design to crown the British Museum forecourt screen, were given by Cantoni to the Tate Gallery in 1912 (Kenneth Romney Towndrow, The Works of Alfred Stevens: Sculptor, painter, designer, in the Tate Gallery, 1950, p.72; now Victoria and Albert Museum). Cantoni also produced a cast of a celebrated head of Aphrodite, thought to come from the eastern pediment of the Parthenon, in the collection at Holkham Hall, Norfolk (Journal of Hellenic Studies, vol.33, 1913, p.278).
For abbreviations, see Resources and bibliography.
Louis Caproni 1850-1876, Joseph Louis Caproni 1876-1890, Caproni & Sani 1891. At 79 Gray’s Inn Lane, London 1850-1863, renamed and renumbered 1863, 162 Gray’s Inn Road 1864-1888, 114 City Road 1865-1867, 132 Clerkenwell Road 1889-1890, 178 High Holborn 1891. Moulders and plaster figure makers.
Luigi, Antonio and Domenico Caproni were brothers, born at Barga in 1808, 1813 and 1817 respectively, and died London in 1873, Sydney, Australia in 1877 and St Louis, USA in 1889 respectively (information from Bruno Caproni, July 2011). There was a Lewis Caproni, plaster figure maker, trading from Canongate, Edinburgh, in 1835 (Caledonian Mercury 5 February 1835), possibly the same man as the Louis Caproni treated here.
Louis Caproni (1808-73) and his family had connections with other Italian figure makers working in London. Caproni himself took over the premises of Joseph Shanti, modeller and figure maker at 114 City Road in 1865. Joseph Louis Caproni (1845-1900), his son, would appear to have taken over the management of Domenico Bruccciani & Co (qv) by 1891. Caproni & Sani, with Raphael Sani (qv) as a partner, were in business at 178 High Holborn in 1891.
The Caproni family can be traced in census records. In 1841 Luigi Caproni in Manchester, an artist, age 30 (ages were rounded down to the nearest five in this census), in a household of eight so-called artists who were presumably figure makers; Francis Caproni in Oxford as a figure maker; and Antonio and Domenico Caproni in Gray’s Inn Lane in London in the large household of Dominic Cardosi (qv), containing 14 figure makers. In 1851 Luigi (apparently misrecorded as Savagi), a figure maker, age 43, at 79 Gray’s Inn Lane, employing 14 men as figure makers, including his brother, Antonio, age 38. In 1861 Louis at 79 Gray's Inn Lane as a figure maker, age 54, from Barga, employing 18 hands, all apparently resident with him, including his son Joseph, age 15, and daughter Amelia, age 24, wife of Raffaello Sani (qv). And in 1871 Louis at 162 Gray’s Inn Road as a modeller and plaster caster from Italy, age 63, with his son-in-law, Raffaello Sani, plaster modeller and caster, and four boarders, two of whom were modellers and casters, two hawkers of plaster figures. Louis Caproni died age 66 in 1873 in the Holborn district.
In March 1850, Luigi Caproni, ‘figurista’ from Lucca, led a group of 14 men landing in the Port of London from Boulogne, including Domenico Caproni (who had originally come in 1843). A year later, in the 1851 census, three of these men were living in his household, alongside other Italian figure makers, mainly aged 17 to 25; he is recorded in this census as employing 14 men. Many of these men will have been on lengthy fixed-term contracts, under which they were paid at the end of the contract (see Lucio Sponza, Italian Immigrants in Nineteenth-Century Britain: Realities and Images, Leicester, 1988, pp.76, 78). In 1858 a case against Luigi Caproni was dismissed concerning the wages of Mansueto Mei, a plaster figure maker who had left him after 20 months of a 30-month contract (The Standard 2 December 1858).
Retailing of plaster figures took place through street trading in London and elsewhere, travel to provincial towns to set up temporary shop, and advertising in the press and elsewhere. In 1843 Antonio Caproni of 97 Gray’s Inn Lane was found to be retailing a cast of a three foot high naked female figure in Fleet St, which was judged indecent to retail in the streets (Morning Post 15 May 1843). In December 1850, Antonio and Luigi Caproni announced that Luigi Caproni had taken a show room in the Collingwood Inn in Newcastle to exhibit his splendid collection of statuettes suitable for the artist or for ornament (the advertisement is headed, ‘Fine Arts! Fine Arts!!’). Some 11 weeks later, Luigi announced his impending departure from Newcastle, naming some of his mythological and other figures, some ‘newly brought over from France’, also referring to busts by Chantrey and Baily (Newcastle Courant 6 December 1850, 21 February 1851). Antonio and Louis Caproni also promoted their wares to a professional market, advertising as moulders and figure makers, offering figures for lights and gardens, figures painted and bronzed, masks taken from the living and the dead, adding ‘Casts taken from Gelatina’ (Blower's Architect's, Surveyor's, Engineer's and Builder's directory, 1860, accessed through Google Book Search).
In the next generation, Joseph Louis Caproni (c.1846-1900) was born in Italy but was in London by the time of the 1861 census, when he was recorded in his father’s household (see above). In the 1871 and 1881 censuses, Joseph Louis Caproni was recorded at 148 Gray’s Inn Road, in 1871 in his father-in-law’s household as a master plaster modeller and caster, and in 1881 as a plaster moulder, age 34, born in Italy. He acted as an executor for Domenico Brucciani (qv) at his death in 1880 and he was apparently the Caproni who traded as D. Brucciani & Co (see The Times 10 December 1891), following Brucciani’s death, when the Brucciani business and stock-in-trade were advertised for sale (The Times 26 May 1880). Caproni died in 1900, age 54, in the Fulham district. There were subsequent close connections between the Caproni and Brucciani families, as is apparent from the birth in 1926 of Enrico Brucciani to a mother by the maiden name of Caproni.
Another branch of the Caproni family became the most prominent figure makers in Boston, trading as P.P. Caproni and producing substantial catalogues of classical and modern plaster figures for sale (e.g. Catalogue of Plaster Cast Reproductions, 1901, 300pp, including busts such as Burns, Byron, John Locke, Longfellow, Newton, Milton, Scott, Shakespeare and Tennyson).
Sources: Information on the birth and christening of members of the Caproni family kindly provided by Bruno Caproni, July 2011. 'Joseph Louis Caproni Junior', Mapping the Practice and Profession of Sculpture in Britain and Ireland 1851-1951, University of Glasgow History of Art and HATII, online at http://sculpture.gla.ac.uk/view/person.php?id=msib1_1278575274, accessed 8 August 2015 (for 1871 census record).
Domenico Cardosi, London by 1830, 76 Leather Lane 1832, Gray’s Inn Lane 1841. Plaster figure maker.
Domenico Cardosi (1799-1844) was born at Barga in 1799 and christened Domenico Anselmo Cardosi. He was in England by 1830 if not before. At a hearing at the Guildhall in 1830, a charge was dismissed that ‘Dominick Cardosi’ had been assaulted by a young man, Gianelli, the son of an old established Italian image maker of Cock St (The Times 21 June 1830), perhaps referring to John Dominic Giannelli (qv). He may be the Dominic Cardosi who with Susanna Masters had a son, William Charles Cardosi, born 1832 and christened at St Andrew Holborn, at which time he was described as a jeweller. In the 1841 census, Dominic Cardozi was listed in Gray’s Inn Lane as a figure maker of foreign birth, age 35 (ages were rounded down to the nearest five in this census); there were 14 people, ages 15 to 40, listed as figure makers at these premises, including Giovacchino Cardosi and two men by the name of Caproni (qv). Dominico Cardosi, sister, Theresa, married Antonio Caproni (qv, under Louis Caproni, above). Cardosi died in 1844 in the Holborn district.
Domenico Cardosi, figure maker, is recorded as arriving in the Port of London from Boulogne on 5 May 1842 after an absence of eight months, leading a group of Italian figure makers. He heads a long list including his brothers Giovacchino and Giovanni and eleven other figure makers of Italian origin (Returns of Alien Passengers).
Another Domenico Cardosi (1831-84), a distant cousin born at Barga in 1831, would appear to be the man recorded as arriving on 22 March 1850 in the Port of London from Boulogne, apparently with another fifteen figure makers. Taken with the 1841 census record, referred to above, it would suggest that the Cardosi were responsible for bringing large numbers of Italian figure makers to London. Other plaster figure-making families such as Papera (qv), Sarti (qv) and Caproni (qv) proceeded in a similar way. The younger Domenico Cardosi is probably the figure maker who married in Newcastle-upon-Tyne in 1854, and who was listed there in the 1871 census as age 40, born Tuscany, and who died age 52 in Sunderland in 1884.
Works in plaster: Few works by Cardosi are recorded. They include a cast of Franz Thaller and Matthias Ranson’s bust, Horatio Nelson, Viscount Nelson, of 1801, marked: D. Cardosi (National Portrait Gallery), presumably made a few decades later than the original bust, and Queen Victoria and Prince Albert, both busts published 6 October 1839 (Aldridge’s, Bath, 25 November 2014 lot 243, information from Peter Malone).
Sources: Information on the birth and christening of members of the Cardosi family kindly provided by Bruno Caproni, July 2011. For abbreviations, see Resources and bibliography.
Sculptors’ own foundries lie outside the scope of this online resource but Chantrey’s is included, as are those of Sir John Steell (qv) and Sir Richard Westmacott (qv) for their wider significance.
Sir Francis Legatt Chantrey, RA (1781-1841) decided to establish his own bronze foundry for casting large-scale public sculpture in 1827 (Yarrington 1994 p.12), apparently because ‘the great founders in brass of the Metropolis’ could not meet his expectations (George Jones, Sir Francis Chantrey, R.A.: Recollections of his life, practice and opinions, 1849, pp.21-2).
The foundry was built in 1828 to Edward Blore’s design, close to Chantrey’s studio in Eccleston Place (M.H. Port, ‘Blore, Edward’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, 2004). However, according to an account published soon after Chantrey’s death, his studio in Eccleston St was a considerable walk from the foundry in the mews, across a public thoroughfare (‘Sir Francis Chantrey and Allan Cunningham’, Fraser's Magazine, vol.27, 1843, pp.664-5, accessed through Google Book Search). In his will, Chantrey refers to his properties in Lower Belgrave Place, Eccleston St and Eccleston Place.
Chantrey’s ‘splendid’ foundry with the facility to cast ‘colossal statues twelve feet high’ was described by his assistant, Allan Cunningham, as being open to any visitor ‘whom curiosity or chance may happen to conduct to the artist's studio, when the moulds are ready and the metal melted’ (Allan Cunningham, The Lives of the Most Eminent British Painters and Sculptors, 1837, vol.3, p.209, accessed through Google Book Search). One such visitor, the artist George Scharf senr, made a sketch of the foundry in 1830, showing the interior with cranes and statues of Pitt the Younger and George IV (British Museum, repr. Peter Jackson, George Scharf’s London, 1987, p.91). Another visitor, an American, Anne Gorham Everett, came to the foundry in April 1842 following Chantrey’s death, and mentioned an equestrian bronze statue, ‘now casting’, of the Duke of Wellington, to be placed on the arch at Hyde Park corner, opposite Apsley House (Philippa Call Bush, Memoir of Anne Gorham Everett, with extracts from her correspondence and journal, Boston, 1857, p.220, accessed through Google Book Search).
Some years after Chantrey’s death, his former assistant, William Young, moved to Edinburgh to direct foundry operations for Sir John Steell, from 1852 (Rocco Lieuallen, in Roscoe 2009 p.1187).
Several plaster figure modellers are thought to have worked for Chantrey, including Bartholomew Papera, ‘Mr Cockayne’ and Peter Sarti. When Chantrey approached his neighbour, the sculptor Joseph Nollekens, for the loan of some of his casts from the antique, Nollekens refused, telling him, ‘You may hire casts at Papera's and Genelli's’ (John Thomas Smith, Nollekens and his Times, 1828, vol.2, p.356). Bartholomew Papera (qv) was paid for unspecified work by Chantrey, who was employed on plaster ornament production (Matthew Greg Sullivan, ‘Chantrey and the Original Models’, in Frederiksen 2010, pp.598 n.8, 295). ‘Mr Cockayne’, probably James Cockaine (qv), was a principal supplier of plaster to Chantrey, for example in 1810 when he supplied the sculptor with coarse and fine plaster (Matthew Greg Sullivan, ‘Chantrey and the Original Models’, in Frederiksen 2010, p.295). Peter Sarti (qv) claimed to have work for Chantrey, presumably as a figure maker (House of Commons, Report from the Select Committee on the Condition, Management and Affairs of the British Museum, 1835, p.257).
Works in bronze: Chantrey’s work in bronze may conveniently be divided into three phases, preceding, coinciding with and following the establishment of his foundry.
As late as 1831, the German artist, Johann David Passavant, saw ‘several French workmen employed in casting a colossal equestrian statue by Chantry’ at the foundry at Woolwich (Johann David Passavant, Tour of a German Artist in England, 1836, vol.2, p.285). He may perhaps refer to Chantrey’s Sir Thomas Munro, ordered in 1828, but apparently completed in the sculptor’s own foundry (see below). Chantrey’s two early bronze statues may have been produced at Woolwich. They were both ordered in 1822 and completed in 1828, namely George IV (Brighton, Royal Pavilion, North Gate, see Public Sculpture of Sussex, p.13) and Henry Grattan (Dublin, City Hall) (Yarrington 1994 pp.170, 178; Roscoe 2009 p.233 implies that they were cast in Chantrey’s own foundry).
A further two works, William Pittthe Younger, ordered 1825, completed 1831, marked: F. CHANTREY/ SCULPTOR/ FOUNDER (Hanover Square) and James Watt, ordered 1826, completed 1832, marked: F. CHANTREY/ SCULPTOR & FOUNDER/ 1830 (Glasgow, George Square, see Public Sculpture of Glasgow, p.123) are both inscribed by Chantrey as sculptor and exceptionally as founder (Yarrington 1994 pp.13, 195, 215). It would seem that they were the first works to be cast at his own foundry, perhaps at much the same time as his George IV, ordered 1825, completed 1831 (Edinburgh, George St, see Yarrington 1994 p.218). A visitor to the foundry in 1830 mentions the presence of bronze statues of Pitt and George IV, the latter for Edinburgh (Sheffield Independent 24 July 1830), presumably the same statues as seen that year by George Scharf (see above).
The final group of works, completed between 1834 and 1839, include Sir Thomas Munro (Madras), George IV on horseback (Trafalgar Square), a cast of Canova’s Endymion (Chatsworth House, Derbyshire) and William Pitt (Edinburgh, George St) (see Yarrington 1994 pp.237, 244, 259, 275). In 1837, Chantrey’s assistant, Allan Cunningham, stated that Chantrey had already cast half a dozen statues in bronze at his foundry (Morning Post 13 May 1837). George Jones, Chantrey’s friend and one of his executors, identifies that statues of Munro, George IV on horseback and the Duke of Wellington were cast at Chantrey’s foundry (George Jones, Sir Francis Chantrey, R.A.: Recollections of his life, practice and opinions, 1849, pp.21-2). The latter, the equestrian statue, The Duke of Wellington, was completed after Chantrey’s death (Royal Exchange, see Yarrington 1994 pp.310, 327).
On occasion, Chantrey would allow other works to be produced at his foundry, as for example when his friend, the geologist William Buckland, persuaded him to permit certain natural specimens to be cast for the Museum of the Royal College of Surgeons (William Buckland, Geology and Mineralogy considered with reference to natural theology, vol.1, 1858, p.lxviii, accessed through Google Book Search).
Sources: Yarrington 1994 (Alison Yarrington, Ilene D. Lieberman, Alex Potts and Malcolm Baker. ‘The Ledger of Sir Francis Chantrey, R.A., at the Royal Academy, 1809-1841’, Walpole Society, vol.56, 1994). For abbreviations, see Resources and bibliography.
John Cheere (1709-87), Hyde Park Corner, London. Plaster and lead figure maker.
Outside the time frame of this online resource but see Terry Friedman and Timothy Clifford, The Man at Hyde Park Corner: Sculpture by John Cheere 1709-1787, exh. cat., Leeds, 1974; Clifford 1992 pp.50-1; Moira Fulton, 'John Cheere, the Eminent Statuary, his workshop and practice, 1737-1787', Sculpture Journal, vol.10, 2003, pp.21-39; Roscoe 2009. For abbreviations, see Resources and bibliography.
Peter Chenu, 28 Great Castle St, Cavendish Square, London 1788-1789, 3 Wardour St 1790, 122 Wardour St 1792-1796, New Road, St Marylebone 1796, 115 Great Portland St 1800, 23 Charles St, Middlesex Hospital 1802-1822, Edward St, Middlesex Hospital 1822. Sculptor and model maker.
Peter Francis Chenu (1760-1834) has been studied by Timothy Clifford, to whom this account is indebted (Clifford 1992 p.51). He has also been the subject of research by a family historian, Felicity Gabbrielli (information kindly supplied April 2014).
It seems that there were two men by the name Peter or Pierre Chenu born in 1760, one in Paris, the other in London: (1) Pierre François Chenu in Paris, of whom more below, apparently born 8 October 1760 (Hutchison 1962 p.148), apparently the son of the sculptor, Nicolas François Chenu and his wife, Marie Françoise Marchandon (unsourced family history on www.ancestry.com); and (2) Peter Chenu, one of four children of Joshua and Elizabeth Chenu, born 6 January 1760 and christened at St Anne Soho, and subsequently recorded as an apprentice by the Stationers’ Company on 1 March 1774, as the son of a carver, Joshua Chenu deceased, his premium being provided as charity by the Governors of the French Hospital (D.F. McKenzie (ed.), Stationers' Company Apprentices, 1701-1800, Oxford Bibliographical Society, 1978, pp.13,126). The latter is possibly the Peter Chenu born in London who married Jane Norris or Morris at St Martin-in-the-Fields in 1799 and who died in prison, age 40, in 1800 (Sir Francis Burdett and R.B. Sheridan, A Further Account… of the Cruelties discovered in the Coldbath-Fields Prison, information from Felicity Gabbrielli). There was also an older Peter Francis Chenu, metal worker, who exhibited in London in 1771, calling himself ‘Painter in varnish to the late King Stanislaus’ (Clifford 1992 p.51).
Felicity Gabbrielli has obtained information from French sources on the Paris-born Pierre François Chenu, who evidently later settled in London. He is documented as a prize-winning sculptor at the Academie Royale between 1778 and 1782, as was his brother, Denis, in 1778 and 1779, and a Chenu le jeune in 1786 (archives of the Academie Royale de Peinture et Sculpture, MS 95). Apparently the same individual, Pierre Francois Chenu entered the Royal Academy Schools in 1784 (Hutchison 1962 p.148) and there won a silver medal for sculpture in 1785 and gold in 1786. He exhibited sculpture at the Academy from 1788 to 1800 and again occasionally at both the Academy and the British Institution between 1811 and 1822. He took as pupils Peter Turnerelli (1774-1839), son of a model-maker, and William Behnes (1794-1864). He made purchases at sales at Christie’s, including those of Joseph Rose the plasterer in 1799 and the sculptors, Thomas Scheemakers and Thomas Banks, both in 1805 (Clifford 1992 p.51, giving ‘Mr. Scheneux’ as the purchaser at Scheemakers’s sale).
In 1794 Chenu was underlessee of Mr Mills, cabinet maker, at 122 Wardour St, a house belonging to Charles Stace (Whitehall Evening Post 7 August 1794). In 1796 he was sharing premises in New Road, St Marylebone with ‘D. Chenu’, presumably his brother Denis (T. Fenwick’s London and Westminster Directory, 1796). He advertised in 1802, that he had several neat figure monuments in marble and a variety of ornamental plaster figures for sale, giving his address at 23 Charles St as from Great Portland St, suggesting that he had moved recently (Morning Chronicle 8 June 1802). The engraver, Abraham Raimbach, was living over his premises in Charles St in 1802 (Memoirs and Recollections of the late Abraham Raimbach, 1843, p.37). Chenu’s nephew, Nicholas Chenu, was listed there as a French stove manufacturer in 1822, going on to trade elsewhere.
Peter Chenu retired from business in 1822 and a sale was held on his premises of ‘a collection of fine bronzed groups, figures, candelabras, historical busts, brackets, lustres, lamps and various ornaments’, with a further sale of moulds and casts the following month (The Times 20 May and 11 June 1822). Subsequently, work by Chenu featured in the studio sale of James Cockaine (qv) in 1824. In his will, made 30 April 1830 and proved 10 September 1834, Peter Chenu, sculptor of 1 Union St, Lambeth, made bequests to the widow of his late brother, Denis Chenu, to his nephews, Francis Chenu and Michael Nicholas Chenu (his residuary legatee) and to Michael Nicholas Chenu’s five children, referring also to his shares in Covent Garden Theatre.
Peter Chenu’s work as a sculptor is discussed and listed by Roscoe. He produced many church monuments (Clifford 1992 p.51). Here, the focus is on what is known of his output as a plaster figure and bronze maker. Many of his Royal Academy exhibits took the form of figures for holding lamps or supporting lights, perhaps in plaster, and these seem to have formed an important part of his business. However, signed or documented examples are scarce. The Prince of Wales purchased a variety of sculpture from Chenu in 1799 for £158.15s.4d for The Grange, Hampshire, including a candelabra figure ‘near 6ft high… from an approved drawing’ (Leeds 1992 p.133). A bronze statuette is known, The Seated Hercules, 1819, marked: P. CHENU Fecit 1819 (Sotheby’s 12 December 2003 lot 203).
Sources: Roscoe 2009. For abbreviations, see Resources and bibliography.
Frederick Collier Christy & Co 1845-1847, Christy, Adams & Hill 1848-1849, Gordon, Hill & Christy 1850. At Thames Ironworks, 70 Rotherhithe, Surrey 1846-1849, 82 Rotherhithe 1850. Engineers, boilermakers, iron and brass founders.
The Thames Ironworks at Rotherhithe saw a series of owners in the mid-19th century. It was following the bankruptcy in 1843 of John Hague, engineer and millwright (London Gazette 24 February 1843) that Frederick Collier Christy took over the works.
Little is known of this engineering business’s work in casting sculpture except for John Edward Carew’s relief for Nelson’s Column in Trafalgar Square, England Expects Every Man will do his Duty, 1848, installed 1849, marked: CHRISTY, ADAMS & HILL Foun.rs. The business went bankrupt in 1849, when Frederick Collier Christy, Frederick Adams and James Powell Hill were named as partners (London Gazette 30 November 1849). The following year, a further partnership, between Alexander Thomas Gordon, James Powell Hill and Frederick Collier Christy, engineers at the Thames Ironworks, was dissolved (London Gazette 29 November 1850).
Frederick Collier Christy (1822-1909) was elected Associate in the Institution of Civil Engineers in March 1847, when his address was given as Surrey Square, Old Kent Road (Minutes of Proceedings of the Institution of Civil Engineers, vol.6, 1847, p.134). He was described as a gentleman, age 29, born in Newington, Surrey, in the 1851 census, when he was living with his parents, John and Sarah, at Cudham, Kent. He emigrated to Australia, where he married in 1861.
In Christy’s subsequent application in 1873 for transfer to the class of member at the Institution, he provided details of his career (Institution of Civil Engineers Archive, ‘Candidate Circulars, Session 1870-1874’, 3 December 1873, p.5). He was educated as a civil engineer and spent three years with Messrs G. and Sir J. Rennie. From 1842 to 1849, he was proprietor of a works in London, engaged in the production of screws for propelling ships including four naval ships and two canal boats. He also built railway locomotives. He emigrated to Australia in 1852 and was principally employed in the Government Railways of Victoria as locomotive superintendent before accepting a similar appointment in the Government Railways of Japan.
James Powell Hill (1821-97) was probably the individual who was born in 1821, son of James and Mary, and christened at St Andrew Enfield, and who married Louisa Day in 1847 at Frenchay in the Clifton district in 1847. In 1857 he was listed as wharfinger at Bull Head Dock, 82 Rotherhithe. In the 1881 census, he was living in Weston-super-Mare. He died age 76 in 1897 in the Axbridge district.
*Coalbrookdale Company, founded 1709, Coalbrookdale, Shropshire. Iron founders.
In 1709, Abraham Darby rebuilt Coalbrookdale Furnace. As an iron foundry, it lies outside the main scope of this online resource and its long history is not spelt out here. The last member of the Darby family associated with the business died in 1926 and the business was absorbed into other concerns. For an online history, see www.gracesguide.co.uk/Coalbrookdale_Co.
The difficulties in casting sculptural works in iron are discussed in a lengthy illustrated article, ‘The Iron Works of Coalbrookdale’, Art Union, August 1846, pp.219-26. This was at the time the foundry was embarking on sculpture casting. It was Francis Darby's interest in the possibilities of statue casting that led to the foundry’s partnership with the sculptor, John Bell (1811-95). When approached, Bell allowed them to take a mould from his celebrated statue, The Eagle Slayer, in the belief that if they could cast such a challenging work cleanly, they could cast anything (Barnes p.35, pl.82, see Sources below).
Sculptural works in iron and bronze: In cast iron, various statues by John Bell including The Eagle Slayer, exh. Great Exhibition 1851 (London, Bethnal Green, Museum of Childhood, various later reductions), Cupid and Swan fountain, exh. Great Exhibition 1851 (Coalbrookdale catalogue, example Coalbrookdale Museum of Iron, repr. Barnes pl.26-8), Deerhound hall table, 1855 (Coalbrookdale Museum of Iron, repr. Barnes pl.44, 46), Ceres, 1861 (untraced, Coalbrookdale catalogue, repr. Barnes pl.45), Oliver Cromwell, 1860-2 (Warrington, Bridge Foot, see Public Sculpture of Cheshire and Merseyside, p.226; see p.241 for Bell’s finials to ornamental gates in Warrington), Africa, Asia, America and Europe lamp stands, 1862 (two of set, Coalbrookdale Museum of Iron, repr. Barnes pl.48, 83) and his Four Continents, 1862? (Ipswich, Town Hall, see Public Sculpture of Norfolk and Suffolk, p.158).
In bronze, John Bell’s Andromeda fountain, exh. Great Exhibition 1851 (Osborne House, Isle of Wight, repr. Barnes pl.23-5) and his statue, James Montgomery, 1861 (Sheffield Cathedral precinct, see Public Sculpture of Sheffield and South Yorkshire, p.125), Percy Wood's monument, Jack Crawford, 1890, marked: COALBROOKDALE (Sunderland, Mowbray Park, see Public Sculpture of North-East England, 2002, p.182) and John Cassidy’s statue, Edward Colston, 1895 (Bristol, Colston Avenue, see Public Sculpture of Bristol, p.40).
Sources: Richard Barnes, John Bell: The Sculptor's Life and Works, 1999; Roscoe 2009.
James Cockaine (c.1768-1823), figure maker in plaster and brass, was insured at 5 Tottenham Court, Tottenham Court Road in 1804, 1808 and 1813 and on 3 Tottenham Court in 1806 (see Sources below). He was listed as a plaster manufacturer at 3 Tottenham Court in 1802 and a bronze figure manufacturer in 1811 (Holden’s London directories). As a plaster manufacturer of Tottenham Court, New Road, he was made bankrupt in 1813 (London Gazette 9 February 1813). He worked for the Royal Academy, where he was described in 1816 as ‘the Moulder in the employ of the Academy’ (Postle 2018 p.483). He exhibited busts at the Royal Academy in 1817 and 1818.
James Cockaine died at the age of 55 in 1823 and was buried on 6 October at St James Piccadilly. In his will, made 20 March and proved 1 December 1823, James Cockaine, bachelor, made contingent bequests to his illegitimate daughter by Caroline Groves, Emily Cockaine, to his brother John, living in Dublin, and to his brother’s son, the Rev. James Cockaine, living in Bristol; however, the administration of his estate was granted to Edward Day, a creditor.
Works in plaster: Cockaine’s 64-year lease on his premises and his stock were offered for sale at auction on 19 January 1824, including models and casts of works by Chantrey (qv), Flaxman, Chenu (qv) and others, and numerous moulds including classical figures, statues of Sir Joshua Reynolds, Pitt, Sir John Moore, ‘Wilson from nature’, Neptune and Victory, colossal busts of Nelson, St Vincent, Howe and Duncan by Chantrey, Lord North, Mrs Siddons, John Kemble, Charles Kemble, Shakespeare and various Greek philosophers, many fine alto and bas reliefs by Flaxman etc, and a ‘very fine leaden Statue of Neptune’ (The Times 15 January 1824).
A plaster figure, Ariadne or ‘Cleopatra’, apparently from the collection of Sir Francis Chantrey (qv), marked: J. Cockaine/ New Road, Tottenham Court, is in the Ashmolean Museum (information from Peter Malone). A large oval in Coade stone or similar, Putto with grapes, is marked: James Cockaine (Peter Hone coll., Christie’s South Kensington, 26 October 2016 lot 14, incl. two others unmarked). James Cockaine is presumably the ‘Mr Cockayne’ who appears to have been the principal supplier of plaster to Chantrey, for example in 1810 when he supplied the sculptor with coarse and fine plaster (Matthew Greg Sullivan, ‘Chantrey and the Original Models’, in Frederiksen 2010 p.295). Cockaine, sometimes spelt Cockayne, appears to have been John Flaxman’s principal plaster figure caster and moulder for many years, from the volume of payments, 1799-1822, with Flaxman’s reckoning of sums expended on plaster figure work (British Library, Add. MS 39791, ff.135-42, kindly drawn to my attention by Eckart Marchand). Cockaine produced casts for Flaxman, 1813-16, during his work on the statue of Sir John Moore. He also did work in 1821 on a figure of St Michael, presumably relating to Flaxman’s large-scale St Michael Overcoming Satan. Following his death, Cockaine was followed by William Pink (qv) as Flaxman’s plaster cast, although in a more limited role.
Sources: Information kindly supplied by Peter Malone was the starting point for this entry. See also London Metropolitan Archives, Sun Fire Office policy registers, 431/764334, 437/792327, 445/816489, 465/893918, this last policy taken out by William Sheath of Cuckfield, Sussex.
William Collins (1721-93), Hyde Park Corner, London. Sculptor and plaster figure maker.
Outside the time frame of this online resource but see Clifford 1992 pp.51-2 and Roscoe 2009. For abbreviations, see Resources and bibliography.
Corinthian Bronze Co Ltd, 39a Albert Road, Peckham, London SE15 by 1927-1938, road renamed 1938, 39a Consort Road 1939-1972, office at Westminster Guild Ltd, 14/16 Howick Place SW1 1947-1970. Bronze founders.
The Corinthian Bronze Foundry was established by Leonard Grist in about 1925. He was previously manager at the Morris Art Bronze Foundry (qv) and before that a moulder at J.W. Singer & Sons Ltd (qv). He had probably also worked at the Thames Ditton foundry (qv). The Corinthian Bronze Foundry specialised in sand casting. On a few occasions in the 1930s and the 1950s, it subcontracted work to John Galizia (qv).
Leonard Edwin Grist (1879-1964) was born in the Frome district in 1879 and married Louisa Kate Bray there in 1903. In census records, he was described in 1881 and 1891 as Leonard Edward Grist, living with his parents, Ezra and Orpah Grist, in 1901 at Thames Ditton as a bronze statuary moulder (presumably with Hollinshead & Burton at the Thames Ditton Foundry (qv), and in 1911 at Warminster in Wiltshire as a bronze statue moulder (presumably with Singer’s), with his wife, Kate Louisa. He died in 1964 at Rottingdean, leaving effects of £3909.
The Corinthian Bronze Co Ltd was listed as ‘Architectural Bronzework’ in telephone directories from 1927, and as art bronze founders from 1945. It was wound up voluntarily in 1945 and in 1948, with all creditors being paid in full (London Gazette 4 May 1945, see also The Times 29 November 1948). However, it was able to continue in business in a revised form. In 1958 and subsequently, the business advertised, ‘Colossal statuary, statues, statuettes, bas and high reliefs in all materials’ (Society of Portrait Sculptors, 6th Annual Exhibition, exh. cat., 1958). In 1962, it described itself as ‘Associates of Westminster Guild Ltd’ (see National Portrait Gallery records, RP 4281).
When Duncan James visited the foundry in about 1970, as part of a series of visits to bronze foundries, he described the business as using traditional sand moulding techniques and identified the manager as Stanley Knee, who had learnt as an apprentice at Singer’s (James 1971 p.71, reproducing a photograph of Leonard Rayner with the mould for casting one of the Ivor Novello award figures).
An order for winding up the business was made in 1972, when it was described as artistic bronze and general founders, art metal workers etc. Dividends continued to be paid until 1978 and the business was finally struck off the company register in 1982 (London Gazette 7 December 1972, 10 August 1978, 19 February 1982). Corinthian’s premises appear to have been taken over by the Meridian Bronze Company (qv).
Works in bronze:According to Stanley Knee’s account to Duncan James in about 1970 (see above), sculptors whose work the foundry had cast included Michael Ayrton, Elizabeth Frink, Maurice Lambert, Henry Moore and Charles Wheeler. However, the foundry’s output is not well documented, especially for the period before 1950. An example from the 1950s is Henry Moore’s Upright Motive No.8, 1955-6, edition of 7+1 (Henry Moore Foundation, repr. Anita Feldman and Suzanne Eustace, Moore at Kew, 2007, p.44). From the 1960s, Franta Belsky’s Shell Fountain, 1961 (Shell Centre, South Bank, Public Sculpture of South London, pp.30-2), David Evans’s bust, John Galsworthy, 1929, cast 1961 (National Portrait Gallery), Robert Thomas’s Mother and Child, 1963 (Coalville, Leicestershire, see The Times 27 August 1963 and Public Sculpture of Leicestershire and Rutland, p.30) and T.B. Huxley-Jones’s Joy of Life Fountain, 1963 (Hyde Park, see The Times 13 July 1962 and Public Sculpture of South London, p.430).
For abbreviations, see Resources and bibliography.
Updated September 2018
Henry Cox, 2 Chapel Place, Battersea Fields, London 1845-1847, Park St, Islington 1854. Electrocaster.
'Mr Cox, Chapel Place, Battersea Fields' was described by John Henning as the producer of electrotypes from his small-scale intaglios of the Parthenon frieze in an advertisement in November 1845 (John Malden, John Henning 1771-1851: “… a very ingenious Modeller”, Paisley, 1977, document no.41). Examples of such reliefs, apparently by Cox, can be found in the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford (see Penny 1992 p.100). Another example of his work, a bronze statuette after Samuel Nixon, Richard Cobden, 1846, inscribed: ELECTRO CAST/ Hy COX, was given by Lord Keynes to the Marshall Library of Economics, Cambridge, c.1936 (J.W. Goodison, Catalogue of Cambridge Portraits, 1955, p.153.
Henry Cox was presumably the ‘Cox’ who received payment of £50 on 14 May 1846 from Prince Albert for a second cast of John Francis’s model of his favourite greyhound, ‘Eos’, made in 1844-5. Two casts are indeed known, one at Windsor, the other at Osborne (RCIN 41483). See Royal Archives, PP/PAPC/MAIN/ACC/LED (information from Jonathan Marsden, May 2018).
For abbreviations, see Resources and bibliography.
Cox & Sons, see Thames Ditton Foundry
David Crashlay (c.1724-1798), variously spelt as Chrashlay, Crachley and Crashley, was a supplier of plaster figures and ornaments from the 1750s to the 1780s. He can be found in Long Acre in Westminster rate books, 1752-67, He would appear to be the David Crashlay who married Mary Addinall at St Anne Soho in 1748 and they had children, Samuel Miotto, christened at St James Piccadilly in 1750, and three sons and daughters christened at St Martin-in-the-Fields, John in 1752, Mary in 1754 and William David in 1756. Crashlay married secondly Amelia La Fortune at St Martin-in-the-Fields in 1757 and they had two children christened at this church, David John in 1768 (buried 1769) and Amelia Ann in 1769.
Crashlay had assistants, John Durant (fl. 1757-74) and James Calvert (b. 1737), who both exhibited at the Society of Artists, Durant in 1774 from Mr Crashley's figure shop in Long Acre, and Calvert from Mr Crashley's in Long Acre in 1783 (see Roscoe). Crashlay himself exhibited various reliefs modelled by Durant at the Society of Artists in 1775, 1776 and 1777. He would appear to be the statuary recorded in Long Acre in 1780 and 1784 (poll books).
Crashlay used his rococo-style trade card to advertise, ‘All sorts of Figures & Ornaments/ in Plaister of Paris, Made & Sold/ by David Crashlay, Figure Maker/ at SR. JSAAC NEWTON'S HEAD in LONG ACRE/ London.’ (examples, British Museum, Heal 32.13; Lewis Walpole Library, Farmington, Connecticut). His business, described in one instance as ‘Mr. Crachley's Figure Shop, Long Acre’, occurs on several subscription tickets as accepting subscriptions for new prints, including one for an engraving after Francesco Zuccarelli, 1756, and another, paired with it, after Thomas Gainsborough, 1764, both published by William Austin (examples, British Museum).
In 1786 Crashlay advertised a sale on his premises at 35 Long Acre of "The Great and once valuable Collection of Statues, Busts, Vases, Alto and Basso Relievos &c’, lamenting that ‘after thirty-four years and a half constant endeavours,… instead of gaining a comfortable subsistence for himself and wife, in their declining years, he finds himself unavoidably getting in debt, owing to the total decline of his business, high rent, increase of taxes &c’ (Morning Herald 12 May 1786).
Crashlay was buried in 1798, aged 74, at the Elim Baptist chapel in Fetter Lane (burial record accessed through Ancestry). In 1799, his widow, Amelia, advertised for his next of kin or relations, if any, to make application to her 'where they will hear of something to their Advantage' (Oracle and Daily Advertiser 15 August 1799).
Updated March 2018
Robert Cummins, 23 South Bridge (east side), Edinburgh 1793-1797, foot of Lady Stair’s Close 1797-1798, opposite the Cross Well (north side), 1799-1802. Carver and gilder, picture framer, supplier of busts.
The Edinburgh carver and gilder, Robert Cummins (c.1766-1802), branched out into figure making in or before the year 1796. He will have been in competition with John Pierotti (qv). He is perhaps the Robert Cummings, son of Peter Cummings and Alison Jeffrey, christened 2 April 1766 at St Cuthbert, Edinburgh. Robert Cummins married Jean Anderson in 1789 and divorced her in 1795 and, described as a carver and gilder of Tron kirk parish, married Mary Forbes, daughter of James Forbes, a paper stainer, as his second wife in 1797 (see Jeffares in Sources below). They had a son, Robert Whitehead Cummins, born 24 November 1797 and christened at Canongate, and two daughters, Anne Cummins, born 5 March 1800, and Mary Annabella Cummins, born 12 August 1801, and christened at St Cuthbert, Edinburgh.
Cummins died of a dropsy on 21 January 1802, age 35, in Frederick St, Leith south. His post-mortem inventory entered at Edinburgh Commissary Court records items to a total value of just over £30, including in his [work]shop various specified items pertaining to his trade as a carver and gilder and also three stucco heads, and in his shop a small cabinet with casts and quite a number of paintings and drawings.
Cummins’ addresses above, sometimes given as Cumming, are taken from Houliston (see Sources below). There was a Peter Cuming, carver, in Netherbow, Edinburgh,1803-8 (Houliston), not necessarily related.
Work as a framemaker and works in plaster: Cummins supplied a frame for a print, 1797-8, according to a voucher in the Dalkeith Household Accounts (Papers of the Montague-Douglas-Scott Family, Dukes of Buccleuch, GD224/351/60). He advertised for sale a choice collection of prints just received from London in 1799, offering to supply a catalogue (Edinburgh Evening Courant 5 August 1799).
Cummins is first known to have advertised in the Edinburgh press in 1796 (Edinburgh Herald 11 January 1796, information from Helen Smailes). He put forward proposals for a series of life-size busts of eminent persons, namely Copernicus, John Napier of Merchiston, David Hume, Gilbert Stuart, Adam Smith, John Brown, M.D., and Mary Queen of Scots, on the basis of ten subscribers coming forward at one guinea each. He had already finished busts of James Ferguson the astronomer, William Smellie, FRS, and William Robertson, late Principal of Edinburgh University. He also advertised for sale topographical drawings by Paul Sandby and others.
Cummins supplied two busts to the Lord Provost of Perth, according to his letter on 9 February 1800; he refers to these or further busts on 14 March (Perth and Kinross Council Archive, B59/24/1/101, 102). Later the same year Cummins advertised his life size busts of William Pitt and Henry Dundas, which he offered to supply to magistrates of the Royal Borough for their council chambers, trades or guild halls at three guineas a pair (Edinburgh Evening Courant 28 June 1800, information from Helen Smailes). In the same advertisement he advertised that his wife would draw crayons portrait. Cummins proceded to advertise his wife’s new drawing book, also announcing his proposal to publish by subscription busts of four celebrated Scots poets, Thomson, Ramsay, Ferguson and Burns, at 10s.6d each; as soon as twelve subscribers for either of the busts could be made up he would begin the model (Edinburgh Evening Courant 11 October 1800, information from Helen Smailes). For his wife, Mary Forbes’s activities, see Jeffares in Sources below.
Examples of Cummins’ work in plaster listed in Roscoe include Rev. Robertson (Aberdeen University; another St Andrew’s University, signed) and William Smellie (Scottish National Portrait Gallery).
Sources: IGI and ‘ScotlandsPeople’ for births, marriages and deaths; Houliston 1999; Neil Jeffares, Dictionary of Pastellists before 1800, online edition at http://pastellists.com/. Edinburgh Evening Courant, advertisements, transcriptions kindly supplied by Helen Smailes.