British bronze sculpture founders and plaster figure makers, 1800-1980 - P
An online resource, launched in 2011, selectively updated twice yearly. Last updated March 2022. Contributions are welcome, to Jacob Simon at [email protected]
William Vaughan Palmer (active 1841-52) appeared before a Parliamentary Select Committee on Art Unions on 19 July 1844, when he was examined about the electrotype process as it applied to engraving; in his detailed evidence he referred to his plate, taken about two years previously, from Watts’s engraving of C.R. Leslie’s May Day (Parliamentary Papers, House of Commons, vol.7, 1845, p.244, accessed through Google Book Search; examples of a print of this title in the British Museum date to 1836).
Palmer advertised as electrotypist to the Art Union of London offering to electrotype engraved plates, busts, bas reliefs, woodcuts and other works of art ( Art Union Advertiser, February 1848, p.xxxiv). He was subject to debt proceedings in 1851 as an engraver and printer, formerly of 42 Gloucester St, Bloomsbury, and late of 93 Charrington St, Oakley Square, electrotypist (London Gazette 4 July 1851).
It remains to be ascertained whether William Vaughan Palmer was related to Edward Palmer (1803-72) of 103 Newgate St, who traded until 1844/5 as a vendor of scientific equipment including electrotype apparatus (see http://www.microscopy-uk.org.uk/mag/artjul11/bs-Palmer.pdf).
Bartholomew Papera,16 Marylebone St, Golden Square, London 1789-1821, plaster figure maker, sculptor and mason. Susannah Papera,16 Marylebone St by 1821-1822, plaster figure maker and modeller. James Philip Papera,16 Marylebone St 1823-1833, 26 Ambrose St, Cheltenham 1842-1844, 7 Clarendon St, Cambridge 1851, 3 Rotunda Terrace, Cheltenham 1861, 2 Warwick Villas, Cheltenham 1871, sculptor, modeller and figure maker.
The Paperas were active as plaster figure makers and sculptors over two generations. They have been studied by Timothy Clifford, to whom this account is indebted (Clifford 1992 p.61). While they lived in Pimlico for many years, they operated their business from 16 Marylebone St, Golden Square from the late 1780s until the early 1830s. It was initially run by Bartholomew Papera, and then by his wife Susannah, and son James Philip Papera. It was continued for many years in reduced form by the son in Cheltenham and Cambridge. There does not appear to be evidence to identify ‘B. Papera’ as Benjamin Papera, as has been suggested (Clifford 1992 p.61).
Bartholomew Papera: Bartholomew Papera (c.1749-1815) came to London in or before 1789, according to the revealing proceedings of his Chancery Court case against John Anthony Sormany, a Swiss milliner of South Molton St (National Archives, C 12/1431/20, examined selectively). In his lengthy deposition dated 1 November 1799, Papera stated that Sormany had helped him in 1789 when he was almost a stranger to the English language, that Sormany became insolvent in 1791 and absconded to Paris and that on his return Sormany managed Papera’s accounts, billing and collecting payments from his customers but in the process defrauded him of £1000 and upwards.
In turn, Sormany claimed that he had provided Papera with various services, procuring him a house in Marylebone St from Mr Comyn in 1789 at a time when Papera was lodging in the house of Mr Walker in Little Pulteney St, helping Papera with the purchase of the stock and moulds of the deceased figure maker, James Hoskins (qv), which his widow wished to sell for £50, and visiting Paris on Papera’s behalf to seek workmen. These proceedings immediately followed on a Middlesex Sessions court case, between Sormany and John Baptiste Papera, concerning keeping the peace (London Metropolitan Archives, MJ/SP/1799/JUNE/037/1-4, unfit for consultation); while John Baptiste Papera has not been identified, it would seem that there was bitterness between the two families. In 1804 Sormany was imprisoned for debt in a different case, when he was described as a figure artist (London Gazette 16 October 1804).
Bartholomew Papera’s Chancery deposition names some 500 customer payments, 1792-7, mainly of a few pounds for unspecified work. His more significant customers included the following (by year; name order and spelling as found; only payments above £10 noted). In 1792 (part year), Lady Paulet. In 1793 Mr Baring, Sir Robert Wilmot, Lady Inglefield, Lord Milton, Mr Pelligrini [two payments; perhaps the figure maker, Ambrose Pelligrini (qv)], Sir Thomas Beauchamp, Lady Poulet, Lady Copley, Lord Milton, Lord W. Gordon, Earl of Ossory, Earl of Warwick, Lord Pelham, Mrs Siddon, Captain Passingham. In 1794, Lady Talbot, Mrs Siddon, Lady Calthorpe, Lady Cope, Lord Maldon, Lord Camden, Lady Strangeways, Lady Cowley, Mr Pelligrini, Mr Wilmot (£23), Mr Hoare, Lord Auckland and Mrs Siddons.
In 1795 Mrs Siddon, Lord Harcourt, Lady Argill, Lady Longboro’, Marquiss Winchester, Duke of Richmond, Mr Dundas, Sir Peter Warburton (£10.3s.6d), Lady Addington, Lady Brownlow, Earl Grosvenor, Lady Dundas (£11.4s.6d), Lord Advocate Lady Dundas (£10.18s.8d), Lady Beauchamp, Mr Chippendall [Thomas Chippendale the younger?], Mr Garrard, Mr Piorotti [perhaps the figure maker, John Pierotti (qv), Edinburgh], Mr Wyndham, Lady Spencer and Lord Sandwich.
In 1796 Lord Granvill (£13.8s.6d), Lady Hadington, Sir John Morehead, ‘a Young Gentleman for a Hercules 7s.6d’, Lady Fell, Lady Cotherington, Honble G. Pitt, Duke of Richmond, Sir G. Beaumont, Sir R. Wilmot (£21), Lord Malden, Lady Dundas (£15.4s.6d), Sir R. Hearn, Sir F. Burgoine, Mrs Walpole, Mr Chippendall, Lord Rodney, Lord Maynard, Sir P. Warburton, Lady Dundas, a Hair Dresser Bond St, Sir Francis Edys, Dutchess Montrose, Lady Wynn and Mr Pieratti (£14.18s.6d. In 1797 (part year) Sir Thomas Beacham (£16.10s), Lady Pembroke, Lord Delaval (£15.4s.6d) and Sir John Cox Hippesley (£11.8s.7d).
In 1795 'Bartolomeo Paperce' was appointed plaster figure maker to the Queen (Whitehall Evening Post 3 February 1795); he used his unusual trade card, within a crowned garter ribbon, to describe him as ‘Figure Maker to Her Majesty (Johnson coll. TradeCards 12(63); another example, Banks coll. 106.22, with added date, 1806). Also in 1795, a subscription was proposed to publish plaster casts from George Garrard's Royal Academy exhibits of models of a bull and a cow, with 'Mr. Papera, Figure Maker to his Majesty' making the casts, the first of which were 'esteemed the sharpest' (Morning Chronicle 11 May 1795). Papera’s premises at 16 Marylebone St were insured by Sir Elijah Impey as his landlord in 1794 (London Metropolitan Archives, Sun Fire Office policy registers, 401/628262).
Papera was well-known to the aristocracy and gentry, to artists and to manufacturers. Between 1800 and 1805, B. Papera was paid by George, 3rd Earl of Egremont, for plaster and models, including classical figures (West Sussex Record Office, PHA/7558, 9272, 10491, 10619; see also Roscoe 2009). ‘Mr. Papera figure-maker’ supplied busts to Lord Bridport in 1806 (Soane Archives, see Roscoe 2009). He would also hire figures out, as Sarah Harriet Burney wrote in 1804, ‘By subscribing a shilling a week to Papara, the Plaisterman, I got what busts or whole length figures I pleased’ (The Letters of Sarah Harriet Burney, ed. Lorna J. Clark, 1997, p.56).
Papera was in frequent touch with artists and architects. According to Joseph Nollekens’ biographer, at the beginning of his career Papera would carry ‘new things round to the artists in baskets’. In particular, Nollekens admired a bas-relief of boys, until Papera named John Deare as the modeller (John Thomas Smith, Nollekens and His Times, vol.2, 1828, pp.53-4). Subsequently, when Nollekens was approached by Francis Chantrey (qv) for the loan of some casts from the antique, he refused, telling him, ‘You may hire casts at Papera's and Genelli's’ (John Thomas Smith, Nollekens and his times, vol.2, 1828, p.356). Papera was paid for unspecified work by Chantrey, who was employed on plaster ornament production; he was also commissioned by Sir John Soane to produce ornaments for his clients (Matthew Greg Sullivan, ‘Chantrey and the Original Models’, and Helen Dorey, ‘Sir John Soane’s Casts as part of his Academy of Architecture at 13 Lincoln’s Inn Fields’, both in Frederiksen 2010, pp.295, 598 n.8). Papera was used by John Linnell for plaster casts in 1821, as the artist’s account book shows (Fitzwilliam Museum, MS 20-2000).
Joseph Farington records visiting Papera with the gem engraver, Nathaniel Marchant, in 1799 (Farington, vol.4 p.1292). Over many years, between 1804 and 1817, Papera and then his son were the most frequent suppliers of plaster figures to the watercolourist, John Samuel Hayward, with orders totalling almost £120 over the years, including a large gladiator at £12.12s in 1804, a crouching Venus at £4.14s.6d in 1805, a large figure for £20 in 1811, a large figure of a faun carrying a goat for £7 in 1814 and a bust of Antinous for £1.1s in 1817 (summary listing by Robert Barnes from bills for casts supplied to Hayward, V&A National Art Library, MSL/1943/920C).
Papera had contacts with manufacturers. He received payments from Wedgwood in 1802 for busts of Mrs Siddons, Lord Nelson, the Hon. Mrs Damer and also for ‘one vase with lamp’ (Wedgwood Archives, see Clifford 1992 p.61) and on his own behalf advertised casts of Anne Seymour Damer’s bust, Lord Nelson, in 1805 (Roscoe 2009). Papera sold a figure, Hercules, to the clock maker, Benjamin Vulliamy in about 1812 (Roscoe 2009).
Papera, whether Bartholomew or his son, was said to have broken the fingers of the Townley Venus (British Museum) in taking a mould, according to Peter Sarti (qv) (House of Commons, Report from the Select Committee on the Condition, Management and Affairs of the British Museum, 1835, p.256).
Bartholomew Papera was said to have been a lapsed Roman Catholic clergyman of Italian birth, if Richard Beamish’s account in the Phrenological Journal of the life of James Philip Papera (see below) can be credited. He is also said to have helped Anne Seymour Damer to escape Paris after the Peace of Amiens and to have numbered Sir Thomas Lawrence among his acquaintances.
Bartholomew Papera of Princes Road died age 66 and was buried in the parish of St George Hanover Square on 6 August 1815. In his will, made 27 June 1814 and proved 8 August 1815, Bartholomew Papera, figure maker of Marylebone, left a life interest in his estate to his wife, Susannah, thereafter to be divided equally between his seven children, Louisa, Maria, Frederick, James, Bartholomew, Susannah and Phillip. A notice to Papera’s creditors was published following his death, relating to a Chancery court case of Howard v. Bartholomew Papera, sculptor and mason (London Gazette13 June 1818; Chancery papers untraced in the National Archives).
Susannah Papera: Bartholomew Papera’s wife, Susannah, continued his business and she was listed in trade directories in the 1820s. Described as late of 16 Marylebone St, Golden Square, and 20 Warwick Place, Pimlico, plaster figure manufacturer, she was subject to debt proceedings in 1821 (London Gazette 21 April 1821) and again in 1835 as formerly of 16 Marylebone St, and late of 21 New Peter St, Horseferry Road, modeller and figure maker (London Gazette 23 January 1835). She may be the Susanna Papera who married Edward Field in 1832 at St Anne Soho. Of her children by her first marriage, Louisa Papera was listed at 16 Marylebone St as a figure maker in 1828 and was responsible for a bust,Sir John Herschel (Roscoe 2009; Clifford 1992 p.61), while Bartholomew the younger was recorded in the 1851 census in King St, Covent Garden, as a pauper, formerly a modeller, age 53.
James Papera: James Phillip Papera (c.1801/7-1886) appears as a colourful character. ‘James Phillipo Papera’ was said to be the sixth child of the sixth wife of his father, according to his biographer Richard Beamish, who contributed an extraordinary account of Papera’s life, illustrated by drawings of his head, to the Phrenological Journal in 1843. From subsequent census records, Papera would appear to have been born in Pimlico about 1804-7, although his age at death would imply that he had been born in 1801 or 1802. According to Beamish, Papera had a talent for music, taking instruction at Westminster choral school and performing at Spring Gardens Chapel and at Westminster Abbey, where he formed his love of sculpture in examining the monuments. With support from Anne Seymour Damer, he travelled with two partners to Italy to obtain models and moulds of superior works. He brought ten boys back to England. Beamish goes on to recount that Papera then formed a perambulating theatre company, combining a number of actors with his figure-vendors, and, taking the leading comic characters himself, he visited the north of England and Scotland, and subsequently South America, returning to London after a period of two years. On his return, he is said to have worked hard to gain a place at the Royal Academy, with Sir Thomas Lawrence’s support. He did indeed exhibit busts at the Royal Academy, 1829-31, including a self-portrait.
In a legal case at the Old Bailey on 17 February 1831, James Philip Papera’s cousin, Thomas Papera was indicted for stealing from him various casts of models in plaster, value 2s.6d, but was found not guilty. The preliminary magistrate court proceedings focused on the unauthorised reproduction of ‘Madame Vestris’s legs’. Papera stated that he was ‘the only person to whom Madame Vestris had ever “stood” to have a cast taken of her leg’ (The Times 21 January 1831). This incident inspired Henry Heath's satirical etching, A Connoisseur!, published 1831, showing the interior of a modeller’s premises with an ugly old man inspecting casts of a pair of Vestris's legs (example, British Museum, see BM Satires no.16848). At the trial, James Philip Papera stated that he was a modeller and figure maker, in partnership with his mother, and that the accused was employed as a workman at 36s a week and his victuals. In evidence, he stated that his mother had recently received an order from Lord Onslow to execute some figures, to the value of £110. He also stated that he had had a quarrel with his mother some time ago and that he resided in a house of his own in Elms Lane, Bayswater.
Later in 1831, Papera applied to the British Museum to take moulds of the busts of Dante and Petrarch in the Print Room (British Museum, Dept of Prints and Drawings, Keeper’s reports to Trustees, vol.1, p.126, December 1831).
The following year, in 1832, described as James Philip Papera of Thomas St, Waterloo Road and 16 Marylebone St, sculptor and modeller, he was imprisoned for debt (London Gazette 7 February 1832). This would seem to have been connected with two incidents described by Beamish, the one when Papera acted as a security for a friend by the name of Anderson, a paper-stainer, to the tune of £1000, the other better documented, according to a letter quoted by Beamish, when a solicitor, William Bull, in March 1834, asked Papera to confirm that in 1829 he had been approached by the architect John Nash to mould and cast in a particular composition certain models then in preparation by Mr Stothard. From Beamish’s account, it would seem that following George IV’s death in 1830, Papera lost his employment and the security of a salary. In one way or another, these misfortunes led to his trial and imprisonment.
Papera at some stage moved to Cheltenham, where he was recorded in 1842. He can be traced in successive censuses as a sculptor, in 1851 in Cambridge, as age 46, born in Italy (but see below), with his wife Mary, age 50, born in Ireland, in 1861 in Cheltenham, as age 54, and in 1871 in Cheltenham but as Philip J. Papera, sculptor, age 66, born in the parish of St James Pimlico, still with his wife Mary.
Papera exhibited images of historical figures in stone and marble at the Great Exhibition in 1851 (Roscoe 2009). At some stage relatively early in his career, according to Beamish, he sought subscriptions for a cast of Roubiliac’s statue of Sir Isaac Newton (Trinity College, Cambridge). He is presumably Philip James Papera who died in 1886 at the age of 84 in the Cheltenham district.
Sources: Richard Beamish, ‘Case of J.P. Papera, a Sculptor’,Phrenological Journal?, vol.16, 1843, pp.148-60; Roscoe 2009. For abbreviations, see Resources and bibliography.
Richard Parker (active 1768, d.1799), London. Plaster and wax figure maker.
Outside the time frame of this online resource but see Clifford 1992 p.62 and Roscoe 2009. For abbreviations, see Resources and bibliography.
Phillips & Parker to 1819,Samuel Parker 1819-1848 or later. At 35 Argyll St, London 1819-1832, 34 Argyll St 1819-1832, 33 Argyll St 1829-1839, 12 Argyll Place, Regent St 1824-1839, Little Argyle St 1826-1830, 26 Cornhill 1831-1832, Egyptian Hall, 170 Piccadilly 1839-1843. Bronzist, bronze founder, lamp and coffeepot maker.
Samuel Parker junr (active 1819-48) was almost certainly the grandson of William Parker, the glass manufacturer, and the son of Samuel Parker senr, who joined the family business in 1784 and took it over in 1798. Samuel Parker junr’s activities have been explored in some detail by Geoffrey De Bellaigue, to whom this account is indebted (see Sources below, cited here as De Bellaigue 1997). The primary focus here is on Parker’s role as a producer and publisher of medals and busts, dating to the period from 1826 to 1832.
The history of William Parker as a glass manufacturer goes back as far as 1762 and has been traced elsewhere (see J. Bernard Perret, 'The 18th-century Chandeliers at Bath', Connoisseur, vol.102, 1938, pp.187-92; see also Leeds 1992 pp.43-5, 79). Additionally, it is worth noting that William Parker and Samuel Parker senr were trading in partnership with Ami Argand and William Slark, as Ami Argand & Co at the lamp warehouse in Bruton St, Berkeley Square, a partnership from which they withdrew in 1791, leaving Ami Argand and Richard Elgar to continue the business (London Gazette 12 July 1791). In 1803, Samuel Parker senr formed a partnership as Parker & Perry, with another glass manufacturer, William Perry, at 69 Fleet St, a partnership which lasted until 1817 (De Bellaigue 1997 p.26, London Gazette 30 September 1817). Parker & Sons were listed as glass manufacturers at this address, 1818-20.
The younger Samuel Parker presumably worked with his father for a time before setting up independently in a variety of enterprises. As Samuel Parker junr, he went into a short-lived partnership in 1819 with George Phillips, who had been trading as a bronze manufacturer, bronze founder etc, variously at 135 Oxford St in 1809, 7 Charlotte St Bloomsbury in 1817 and 34 Argyle St by 24 December 1818 (London Metropolitan Archives, Sun Fire Office policy registers, 448/834318, 476/ 931677-8, 477/948459). Phillips & Parker took out insurance at 34 Argyle St as ‘brass bronze and iron founders’ on 29 July 1819 (482/956525), but this partnership, as ‘bronzists and manufacturers of metals’, was dissolved very shortly thereafter in August 1819 (London Gazette 7 August 1819).
Parker’s premises seem to have embraced nos 33, 34 and 35 Argyll St (sometimes spelt Argyle St). His workshop was at 12 Argyll Place from 1824 and was treated in the rate books as part of 35 Argyll St (De Bellaigue 1997 p.26). On 26 July 1821, Samuel Parker senr took out insurance on 35 Argyll St, when Parker, iron and bronze manufacturer, was specified under the heading, ‘other property or occupiers’ (488/981568). At the same time Samuel Parker, 35 Argyle St, brass bronze and iron manufacturer, took cover totalling £7,050, a considerable sum, and took further cover, 8 August 1822 (488/981567, 493/995050; see also De Bellaigue 1997 p.26).
Samuel Parker junr took out various patents, including for improvements in the construction of lamps in 1820 and subsequently (New Monthly Magazine, vol.14, October 1820, p.452, accessed through Google Book Search). From 1827 he advertised his New Argyll Table Lamps from 12 Argyll Place(The Times 3 November 1827).
Described as a ‘bronzist and lamp-maker’ of Argyll Place, he was declared bankrupt in 1832; a final dividend was paid as late as April 1842 (London Gazette 6 April 1832, 5 April 1842). As a result of his bankruptcy, three sales were held by Mr Cafe, the first at 34 Argyll St of Parker’s three lamp patents, the second at Wharf A, Regent’s Park, near the barracks, of the lease on Parker’s manufactory and wharf, and his models and patterns, allegedly costing upwards of £20,000, including equipment, ‘about 500 rich Ionic tripods, chased and plain’, lamp pedestals and about 20,000 feet of brass tubing (The Times 31 May 1832), and the third at Mr Cafe’s rooms of Parker’s remaining lamps, bronzes, medals, medallions (including of George IV) and picture frames (The Times 14 July 1832).
Parker continued in business on a reduced basis. In 1839, he was described in the London directory as a ‘Lamp and coffee pot manufacturer’ and the following year, at the Egyptian Hall, Piccadilly, as a ‘Lamp and patent steam fountain coffee pot manufacturer’ (De Bellaigue 1997 p.26). He suffered a further bankruptcy order in November 1842, when he was described as a lamp manufacturer of the Egyptian Hall; a dividend was paid as late as 1848 (London Gazette 2 December 1842, 21 March 1843, 2 June 1848).
Works in bronze: William Parker and his successors were George IV’s principal lighting suppliers from 1784 until well into the 1820s (De Bellaigue 1997 p.27). Samuel Parker junr worked extensively for the King at Brighton Pavilion, supplying in particular the ormolu mounts for a marble chimneypiece, 1821-3 (De Bellaigue 1997 p.28). He was employed at Buckingham Palace in the late 1820s and early 1830s, providing railings and the grand gates of the marble arch, as well as internal work including the magnificent balustrade for the principal staircase at a cost of £3900 (De Bellaigue 1997 p.30). It was said that late payment on this contract led to his bankruptcy.
The focus here is on Parker’s activities as a publisher of medals and busts from 1826 to 1832. In 1826 and 1827, he published a series of medals by A.J. Stothard, diameter 62mm, marked on the reverse, ‘To Great Men’, including the Duke of York, George Canning, John Flaxman, Sir Walter Scott, James Watt and, by J. Henning, the Duke of Wellington (Laurence Brown, A catalogue of British Historical Medals 1760-1960, vol.1, 1980, nos 1255-6, 1259-61, 1285, 1303, 1312-13). Stothard exhibited specimens of six of these medals at the Royal Academy in 1826 as ‘the first part of a series of medals of our Great Men now publishing’.
Early in 1830, Parker as ‘bronzist’ to the King advertised a series of medals dedicated by permission to the King, ‘designed to perpetuate the great men of the present age’, commencing with a medal of the late Sir Thomas Lawrence engraved by Scipio Clint, medallist to the King, from a bas-relief modelled for the purpose by E.H. Baily, price 10s.6d in bronze or £2.2s in silver. There are examples of both the bronze medal and a larger medallion in the National Portrait Gallery, diameters 41mm and 365 mm respectively (Walker 1985 p.311; see also Brown no.1448). Parker advertised the medal as the first in a series, nearly ready for delivery, including the King, the late Duke of York, George Canning, Sir Walter Scott, the late James Watt, the Duke of Wellington, Lord Byron, Lord Stowell, William Wordsworth, the Archbishop of Canterbury and the late John Flaxman (The Times 30 January 1830; see also The British Magazine, vol.1, 1830, p.320, accessed through Google Book Search, referring to Parker’s partnership with Scipio Clint). This series may have been some sort of reissue of his earlier medals of Great Men. Parker also produced a large medal of George IV, diameter 113mm, apparently in 1830 (Brown no.1364).
Parker published several large high-relief bronze medallions, including that already mentioned of Thomas Lawrence, 1830, diameter 365mm (National Portrait Gallery), Samuel Joseph’s Henry Mackenzie, 1822, published 6 February 1830, and, probably also by Joseph, Sir Walter Scott, 1822, published 1830, both diameter 255mm (both Ashmolean Museum, see Penny 1992 pp.106-7).
In 1831, Parker advertised the publication of small bronze busts at £1.1s each, King William IVandLord Chancellor Brougham, designed to ornament chimney-pieces. The busts were sold by Parker, ‘Bronzist’, at 18 Argyll Place and 26 Cornhill, by Jennings and Co. of Cheapside, and by ‘all Booksellers’ (London Literary Gazette, No.750, 4 June 1831, p.366, accessed through Google Book Search; see also The Times 14 March 1831). There are examples of both these busts in the Scottish National Portrait Gallery and of William IV elsewhere (Roscoe 2009). A small bronze bust of John Flaxman, after Samuel Joseph, was published by Parker on 3 February 1830 (example in the Lady Lever Art Gallery, Port Sunlight, see Andrew Clay et al., British Sculpture in the Lady Lever Art Gallery, 1999, p.63, where other such busts of Sir Walter Scott, Dugald Stewart and Thomas Lawrence are mentioned). An example of Samuel Joseph’s small bronze bust of Dugald Stewart, published 3 February 1830, belongs to the Royal Scottish Academy and was given by the sculptor (information from Robin Rodger, August 2015). A bronze bust of Sir Thomas Lawrence was shown at the Great Exhibition in 1851 (Roscoe 2009).
Following his bankruptcy in April 1832, Parker continued in business. His medallion in bronze of the late Sir Walter Scott, engraved by A.J. Stothard from a bust by Francis Chantrey was published in November 1832 at a price of 5s in bronze, with gold or silver available to order (London Literary Gazette, no.819, 29 September 1832, p.623, accessed through Google Book Search;The Times30 November 1832).
Sources:Geoffrey De Bellaigue, ‘Samuel Parker and the Vulliamys, purveyors of gilt bronze’,Burlington Magazine, vol.139, 1997, pp.26-37; Roscoe 2009. For abbreviations, see Resources and bibliography.
Updated September 2019, September 2021
Alessandro Parlanti, 63 Ladywell St, Glasgow 1891. Rovini & Parlanti by 1894-1896, The Bronze Art Foundry Syndicate Ltd 1896-1899, Alessandro Parlanti 1899-1918, at 7 Aylesbury St, Clerkenwell, London EC 1894, The Albion Works, 59 Parson’s Green Lane, Fulham, London 1896-1918. Art bronze and statue founder.
The Italian bronze founder, Alessandro Parlanti (1862-1940 or later), has been the subject of detailed study by his great-great-nephew, Steve Parlanti, to whom this account is indebted (see Sources below). His foundry and that of his brother, Ercole (see below), were among the more important in the first quarter of the 20th century.
Alessandro Parlanti was born in Rome, the son of Antonio and Rosa Parlanti. He worked at the Fonderia Nelli in Rome and it seems likely that his father, an art bronze founder, trained at the same foundry (James 1971 p.70, Parlanti 2010 p.6).
Alessandro Parlanti came to Britain in or about 1890 (the year subsequently given on his letterhead for the establishment of his business, see Parlanti 2010 p.6). In the 1891 census he can be found boarding at 103 Stirling Road, Glasgow as a bronze founder in the household of Ferdinando Trocchi, a hotel waiter born in Rome. Later that year his artistic bronze foundry at 63 Ladywell St, Glasgow, was recorded as a late entry in the Glasgow Post Office Directory for 1891-2. These details come from the Parlanti Bronze Foundries and the Mapping Sculpture websites (see Sources below). Parlanti is not recorded in the 1892-3 Glasgow directory, suggesting that he was in business there for only a short time.
In 1894 or before, he set up with Gaetano Rovini, as Rovini & Parlanti, art bronze founders, in London. Initially they traded from 7 Aylesbury St, Clerkenwell, as a letter of 17 August 1894 from William Goscombe John concerning the casting of a bust reveals (letter to John Ballinger at Cardiff Library, see John Hedley Thomas, Ballinger correspondence, item R11, accessed 4 July 2021, information from Steve Parlanti). From 1895 they operated from the Albion Works at Parsons Green in London (Rovini signed a lease on the premises commencing 21 June 1895). William Goscombe John’s statue, Morpheus, given to the National Museum of Wales by the sculptor in 1894, is marked: Rovini & Parlanti – cara [?cera] perduta foundry – London (information from Steve Parlanti, from observations by Duncan James).
Parlanti is credited with the commercial introduction of the lost wax process of casting into England and the employment in that process of the gelatine mould, which made replication of deep undercutting possible (Public Sculpture of South London, p.454). However, it is clear that both processes were in use before he set up in business (see, for example, J.W. Singer’s use of lost wax and Fernando Meacci’s use of gelatine moulds).
The Bronze Art Foundry Syndicate Ltd, led by Rovini and Parlanti, was established by agreement in June 1896 to purchase the remainder of the lease on the Albion Works together with Rovini and Parlanti’s bronze founding business for £7000, made up of £1000 in cash and £6000 in shares from a total share capital of £10,000, with 32 initial shareholders. Rovini, foundry manager of Albion Works, and Parlanti, bronze caster of Albion Cottage, were each allocated 1750 shares. The above account draws on Steve Parlanti, The Parlantis: Art Bronze Founders of Fulham, 2010, pp.7-8, supplemented by Board of Trade files (National Archives, BT 31/6871/48331). The Syndicate was listed in the 1898 Post Office London directory, with H.H. Wesencroft as Secretary. It was wound up voluntarily in 1899 (London Gazette 10 March 1899), with its stock-in-trade put up for sale by the liquidator, including machinery, plant, fixtures and utensils and the leasehold premises (The Times 1 April 1899).
Thereafter, Parlanti continued to occupy the premises at the Albion Works. According to the sculptor Alfred Gilbert’s diary, Parlanti became sole proprietor of the foundry at Parsons Green on 22 June 1899 (Gilbert 1987 p.59). Confusingly it appears that there were two companies with an interest in the foundry, the Albion Art Foundry, mentioned in Gilbert’s diary on 30 May, and the Bronze Perdu Company, mentioned on 4 November (Gilbert 1987 pp.54, 82). As a result of a conversation on 4 November with W. Minton Inglis, secretary to one company or the other, it was understood by Gilbert that ‘Parlanti had been playing a double game’ with him by submitting accounts which may have been payable to the Bronze Perdu Company, of which Parlanti was said to have been a servant receiving £5 a week without any right to demand payment for bronze work from clients. Be that as it may, Gilbert’s deteriorating financial position led to the termination in their business arrangement before the end of the year and writs were served by the Bronze Art Foundry and the Cire Perdu Bronze Art Foundry in February 1900 (Gilbert 1990 p.28).
‘Messrs Rovini and Parlanti’ were reported to be teaching moulding and casting at the Central School of Arts and Crafts in 1896 (The Times 7 November 1896), but their names do not appear in the Central School’s 1896 prospectus (information from Steve Parlanti, 2011). How Rovini and Parlanti met is not known. Gaetano Rovini was recorded in censuses in 1891 at 29 Mount Pleasant as the manager of a marble sculpture shop, age 28, born in Italy, and in 1901 in Camberwell, as an importer of Italian works of art, age 37. He can be found at two addresses in Clerkenwell in 1893 and then at the Albion Works (Culme 1987 p.395). He married in 1902 in the Holborn district. He has not been traced subsequently and may have left England.
For a fee Alessandro Parlanti provided instruction in the ‘cire perdu’ process, to enable bells to be ornamented at the John Taylor bellfoundry in 1898 (‘Parlanti Bronze Foundries, Alessandro’, see Sources below). John Taylor & Co of Loughborough continues to cast bells.
Alexander Parlanti was listed in the 1901 census at the Bronze Factory in Parsons Green Lane as an artistic bronze founder, age 39, born Rome, together with his wife, Cesira, and three children, born at Bolsena in Italy, the eldest age 11, suggesting that Parlanti could not have settled in England before 1889 or 1890 at earliest. Also living in his household in 1901 was his younger brother, Ercole Parlanti (qv), a bronze founder, age 30. Ercole was closely involved in running Alessandro’s foundry, even as early as 1904, when C.B. Fry described it as ‘Ercole Parlanti’s Foundry’, reproducing a view of foundry yard with G.F. Watts’s statue, Physical Energy (C.B. Fry’s Magazine of Sport and Outdoor Life, vol.1, no.1, April 1904, pp.9, 12, information from Steve Parlanti).
Alexander Parlanti with his wife and children moved back to Rome, arriving on 3 August 1905, where he continued to be active in bronze founding; it would seem that he was still alive as late as 1940 (information from Steve Parlanti, based on research by Claudio Mancini). His brother, Ercole, continued to run the business under the Alexander Parlanti name, which is last found in trade directories in 1919. From 1918, the premises at 59 Parson’s Green Lane, sometimes described as the Albion Works, were taken over by James Martin, trading as the Fulham Bronze Co Ltd and as the Albion Art Foundry Ltd (Parlanti 2010 p.28) but both businesses went into liquidation in 1922 (London Gazette 28 July 1922, 8 August 1922).
Works in bronze for Alfred Gilbert: Parlanti undertook work for Alfred Gilbert following the sculptor’s difficulties with George Broad (qv) in 1897. He called on Gilbert on 1 November 1897, declining to undertake casting in aluminium but agreeing to cast in bronze the busts, John Hunter and Sir Richard Owen (Gilbert 1992 p.75). His business relationship with Gilbert did not last beyond 1899 owing to the difficulties faced by both men. Gilbert had severe financial problems leading to his bankruptcy in 1901, while Parlanti’s business was wound up voluntarily in 1899, as outlined above.
Statuettes cast by Parlanti for Gilbert in 1899 include Charity (Victoria and Albert Museum, see Bilbey 2002 p.282, Dorment 1986 p.179), The Virgin and St Elizabeth of Hungary (Scottish parish church, see Dorment 1986 pp.166-7; identical to figures on Gilbert’s Duke of Clarence memorial) and Baby Girl (Perth Museum and Art Gallery, Dorment 1986 p.181).
Other works cast for Gilbert in 1899 include the roundel, Post Equitem Sedet Atra Cura (Victoria and Albert Museum, another Royal Scottish Academy, Dorment 1986 p.177), the bust, John Hunter (St George’s Hospital Medical School, Tooting, Dorment 1985 pp.122-3, Public Sculpture of South London, p.326), wax models for the bronze Memorial Candlestick to Lord Arthur Russell (St Michael, Chenies, Buckinghamshire, see Dorment 1985 pp.194-7), the gold Lawrence Memorial medal, first cast 1897 (St Bartholomew's Hospital, see Dorment 1985 pp.252-3, Gilbert 1987 pp.27, 29, 31) and a set of extraordinary silver spoons for Alexander Henderson (Buscot Park, Oxfordshire, Dorment 1985 pp.206-7, Dorment 1986 p.148). Gilbert took great care over the casting process, recording in his studio diary the delivery by Parlanti of waxes, together with their models, of figures for the Russell Memorial (James 1986 p.25). Parlanti was able to achieve remarkable polychrome finishes to the works he cast for Gilbert, effects which are not found on works cast elsewhere (Dorment 1986 p.177).
Parlanti’s close involvement in the intricate process of fabrication can be illustrated from Gilbert’s studio diary for January 1899 (Gilbert 1987 pp.27, 29, 31-2). ‘Mr. Parlanti takes away the bronze model of the Lawrence Medal and 6.75 ounces of 18 carat gold.’ (4 January). ‘6.75 oz of gold insufficient for 2 medals’ (12 January). ‘Mr. Parlanti brings cast of gold medal and remainder of gold delivered to him.’ (20 January). ‘Mr Parlanti calls in the morning and his men in the afternoon. They take away Leighton’s statuette, the Henderson bowl, the Virgin, the Victory for the Queen’s statue and a spoon pattern, and bring back spoon heads.’ (27 January). This intensive pattern of working continued for several months until relationships between the two men became strained.
Works in bronze for other sculptor: Rovini & Parlanti, and Parlanti as successor, worked for many other sculptors. Examples from the 1890s include William Goscombe John’s statue, Morpheus, 1894 or before, see above (National Museum of Wales, Cardiff), Harry Bates’s Lord Roberts Memorial, 1896 (Calcutta, see Public Sculpture of South London, p.454) and William Keyworth's monument, Sir William Gray, 1898 (Hartlepool, Church Square, see Public Sculpture of North-East England, 2002, p.281, as by Rovini & Parlanti). Alfred Drury is said to have used Parlanti for his small-scale work (Public Sculpture of South London, p.454).
From the 1900s and subsequently, Onslow Ford’s General Gordon on a Camel, 1901, replica of an 1890 J.W. Singer cast, for Khartoum (now Gordon Boys’ School, Woking) and posthumous bronze casts of Folly, by agreement between the sculptor's son and the Leicester Galleries, of which eight were sold during 1908 (Silber 2012 p.137), H.C. Fehr’s Memorial Tablet to David Garrick, 1901 (Southampton St, see The Builder, 9 February 1901, p.133, quoted in Survey of London, vol.36, Covent Garden, 1970, p.214), Alfred Turner’s Queen Victoria Monument, 1902 (Delhi, replica Tynemouth, see Parlanti 2010 pp.18-19), Queen Victoria Monument, 1904 (Sheffield, Endcliffe Park, see Public Sculpture of Sheffield and South Yorkshire, p.137) and Peace, exh.1914 (Ashmolean Museum, see Penny 1992 p.173), G.F. Watts’ large-scale Physical Energy, 1903 (Cecil Rhodes Monument, Groote Schuur, South Africa), Albert Toft’s South African War Memorial, 1905 (Birmingham, Edgbaston, Cannon Hill Park, see Public Sculpture of Birmingham, p.106) and William Birnie Rhind’s Royal Scots Greys Memorial, 1906 (Edinburgh, Princes St, see Parlanti 2010 pp.21-2).
From the 1910s figures for Henry Poole's King Edward VII Fountain, 1913 (Bristol, Queen's Road, see Public Sculpture of Bristol, pp.188-9) and Thomas Wren’s reductions of G.F. Watts’ Physical Energy, 1914 and later casts (see Stephanie Brown, G.F. Watts, ‘Physical Energy’, Sculpture and Site, 2007, pp.49-50). Of uncertain date, Sir John Steell’s bust, Florence Nightingale, 1862, cast c.1900-15, bronze label: ARTISTIC/ FOUNDRY/ LONDON/ A. PARLANTI (National Portrait Gallery).
Recent research by Steve Parlanti has revealed that Ercole Parlanti was responsible for casting George Frampton's Peter Pan in 1912 (Kensington Gardens). He went on to cast six further versions including that in Parc d’Egmont, Brussels which is signed: E.J. Parlanti/ Founder/ London. See ‘Parlanti Bronze Foundries, Alessandro’ in Sources below.
For Eric Gill in the 1910s, his statuette, Naked Mother and Child, 1912, edition of 9 in bronze and in brass 1913-17 (Collins 1998 pp.80-1) and the head of Christ from Gill’s relief, Station VI: Jesus and Veronica, cast in plaster 1916 (Collins 1998 pp.98-9). Parlanti provided the Australian sculptor, Harold Parker, with a price of £700 or £800 for casting an equestrian statue in 1915 (Fryer Library, University of Queensland, B/223, information from Steve Parlanti). Subsequently Ercole Parlanti cast work for Parker (see below).
For Henri Gaudier-Brzeska in 1912, in bronze, Major Smythies (Manchester City Gallery) and Firebird (The Russian Ballet) (destroyed) and, in plaster, Haldane MacFall (destroyed), The Madonna of ‘The Miracle’ (Kettle's Yard, Cambridge), Enid Bagnold (Private coll.) and Ornamental Mask (Geneva, Musée du Petit Palais). See Silber 1996 pp.253, 254, 257; H.S. Ede, Savage Messiah, 1931, pp.173, 215; Paul O’Keeffe, Gaudier-Brzeska: An Absolute Case of Genius, 2004, pp.118-9, 124, 126, 159.
For a list of castings, see Castings | Parlanti Bronze Foundries, last accessed 4 July 2021.
Works cast from 1918 by the successor business, the Albion Art Foundry, include William Hamo Thornycroft’s Monument to Private Haron Baronian, 1919, marked: ALBION ART FOUNDRY LTD./ PARSONS GREEN/ SW (Knutsford, Toft Road, see Public Sculpture of Cheshire and Merseyside, p.125) and Education, 1919, marked: Albion Art Foundry Ld. Parsons Green. SW (Oldham, St James’s Church, see Public Sculpture of Greater Manchester, p.296), George Thomas’s Waterhead War Memorial, 1920, marked: Albion Art Foundry Parsons Green S.W. (Oldham, Huddersfield Road, see Public Sculpture of Greater Manchester, p.297), Alfred Drury and W.S. Frith's War Memorial to London Troops, 1920 (Royal Exchange, see Public Sculpture of the City of London, pp.334-5) and Sir Robert Lorimer’s First World War Memorial, figures by Louis R. Deuchars, 1920 (Glenelg, see Hugh Barron, The County of Inverness, 1985, p.354, accessed through Google Book search).
Sources: Duncan James, ‘Foundries’, Arts Review, vol.23, no.3, 13 February 1970, p.70; Steve Parlanti, The Parlantis: Art Bronze Founders of Fulham, 2010, and ‘Parlanti Bronze Foundries, Alessandro’ at http://parlantibronzefoundries.co.uk/alessandro/, last accessed 4 July 2021. For abbreviations, see Resources and bibliography.
Updated September 2019, September 2021
E.J. Parlanti 1918-1925, E.J. Parlanti & Co 1925-1926, E.J. Parlanti & Co Ltd 1926-1927. At the Art Bronze Foundry, Beaumont Road, West Kensington, London W14 1918-1927, 110 Victoria St SW1 1925-1926, bronze founders. Parlanti Founders 1928, Parlanti’s Ltd, Winders Road, Battersea 1930-1931, E.J. Parlanti, 62 Hurlingham Road, SW6 1932-1935, art founder, Parlanti's Art Foundry Co Ltd, 23 Lawrence Lane, Cheapside, London EC2 1938, Parlanti's Art Foundry Ltd, 230 Acton Lane W4 1939-1948, 9 Beaumont Avenue, W14 1948.
The Italian bronze founder, Ercole James Parlanti (1871-1955), has been the subject of study by his great-grandson, Steve Parlanti, to whom this account is indebted. He was born in Rome, the son of Antonio and Rosa Parlanti (Parlanti 2010 p.32). He was in England by 1897, if not before, and was listed in the 1901 census at the Bronze Factory in Parson’s Green Lane as a bronze founder, age 30, born Rome, living with his older brother, Alexander Parlanti (see above). He married Adele Eugenie M. Milanopolo in 1903 in the Holborn district. In the 1911 census he was still living at the bronze foundry at 59 Parson’s Green Lane, recorded as an artistic bronze founder, age 39, an employer, with his wife and family, including a son Conrad, age 7. His home at 2 Fielding Road, London W4, 1939-55, is marked by a green plaque.
Ercole was closely involved in running Alessandro’s foundry as early as 1904, as discussed above. When his brother moved back to Rome on 3 August 1905, he continued to run the business under the Alexander Parlanti name until about 1918, according to recent research by Steve Parlanti. In the 1911 census Ercole was described as an employer while Alessandro is absent (see Parlanti Bronze Foundries, last accessed 4 July 2021). At about the time he sold the Alexander Parlanti business in 1918, Ercole set up a new foundry in West Kensington, trading as The Art Bronze Foundry. In the early 1920s he prospered from commissions for war memorials. In February 1926 the business advertised as E.J. Parlanti & Co at Beaumont Works, Beaumont Road, and 110 Victoria St, ‘and at Rome’, describing Parlanti’s as ‘The Ecclesiastical, Monumental and Decorative Metal Founders in Silver and Bronze’ (The Tablet, 13 February 1926, repr. Ercole | Parlanti Bronze Foundries, last accessed 4 July 2021).
In March 1926, the business became a limited company, with Ercole, his son Conrad and Mervyn Lambert as directors (Parlanti 2010 p.54). However, it soon ran into difficulties following its expansion as art metal founders into additional premises in Victoria St in Westminster. The business entered into liquidation later in 1926 and Parlanti himself was subject to bankruptcy proceedings in 1927 (London Gazette 9 August 1927). His business and property at 42-50 Beaumont Road were as a result purchased in March 1927 by the Crittall Manufacturing Co, whose chairman described the Parlanti business as ‘long recognised as the leading casters of statuary bronze in Great Britain’ (The Times 8 September 1927). The Crittall letterhead in 1928 retained the Parlanti name but the business now focused on making bronze casements (Parlanti 2010 p.55).
In the liquidation proceedings in 1926-7 (National Archives, BT 31/29454/212786), book debts paid by Parlanti’s customers are recorded, presumably for work undertaken in casting bronzes. These include the following sculptors: F.V. Blundstone at £14 total, William Reid Dick £24, Jacob Epstein £31, John Ashton Floyd £10, A.J. Oakley £4 total and T.H. Paget £13.
At the age of almost sixty, Ercole Parlanti set up in bronze founding again as Parlanti’s Ltd, perhaps with his son Conrad, trading at Winders Road, Battersea in 1930, where he may possibly have followed on from Giovanni Fiorini (qv). His business card reads, ‘Founders of Works of Art in all metals & architectural metal craftsmen’ (Tate Archive, TGA 876/9/2). Little is known of Parlanti’s later work except for his castings for the automotive artist, Frederick Gordon-Crosby, including a prototype model for the Jaguar brand in about 1937 (Parlanti 2010 pp.56-7). Ercole’s son, Conrad (1903-84), was in business independently as a metal craftsman and in 1955 moved to the United States (further details can be found in Parlanti 2010 pp.58-76, and Conrad | Parlanti Bronze Foundries, last accessed 4 July 2021).
Ercole Filippo Giacomo Parlanti, known as Ercole James Parlanti, was naturalised as British in 1947 (London Gazette 22 August 1947). His book, Casting a Torso in Bronze by the Cire Perdue Process, was published in 1953 by Alec Tiranti Ltd. He died at the age of 84 in 1955 in the Ealing district.
Works in bronze: Examples of Ercole Parlanti’s work from the 1910s include four bronzes for Ivan Meštrović, 1918-19 (Parlanti 2010 p.34) and Jacob Epstein’s The Risen Christ, 1917-19, with Parlanti’s mark (Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art, see Parlanti 2010 p.34 and Silber 1986 p.144). Parlanti is said to have cast many of Epstein's portraits in the 1920s (Silber 1986 p.116) and, indeed, in the liquidation proceedings in 1926-7 Epstein was his most substantial sculptor debtor.
From the 1920s, war memorials include John Cassidy’s War Memorial, 1919-20 (Clayton-le-Moors, see Public Sculpture of Lancashire and Cumbria, p.47), Alfred Turner’s Glory to the Dead, 1921 (Fulham, Vicarage Gardens, see Parlanti 2010 p.38), F.V. Blundstone’s Folkestone War Memorial, 1922 (Folkestone, see Parlanti 2010 pp.40-4), Frederick Brook Hitch’s National Submarine War Memorial, 1922, marked: E PARLANTI/ FOUNDER - LONDON (Victoria Embankment, see Public Sculpture of the City of London, p.423; Parlanti 2010 pp.45-7), William Reid Dick’s outsize eagle and globe, Royal Air Force War Memorial, 1923, marked on base of globe: E.J. PARLANTI/ FOUNDER - LONDON (Victoria Embankment, see The Times 14 July 1923; Parlanti 2010 pp.47-52; Public Sculpture of Historic Westminster, vol.1, p.357), G.N. Moorwood and Roy Smith’s figures for York and Lancaster Regiment War Memorial, 1923, marked: E.J. PARLANTI FOUNDER LONDON (Sheffield, Weston Park, see Public Sculpture of Sheffield and South Yorkshire, p.227), Louis Roslyn’s War Memorial, 1924, marked; E J PARLANTI/ FOUNDER/ LONDON (Haslingden, Lancashire, Memorial Gardens, see www.britishlistedbuildings.co.uk, accessed 4 July 2021), George Frampton’s Peter Pan, further cast, 1924, marked: E.J. Parlanti/ Founder/ London (Parc d’Egmont, Brussels, information from Steve Parlanti), F.V. Blundstone and Gilbert Bayes’s figures for St John’s War Memorial, 1924 (Newfoundland, St John’s, see Parlanti 2010 p.53) and George Alexander’s figures of servicemen for his Sheffield Cenotaph, 1925 (Sheffield, Barker’s Pool, see Parlanti 2010 p.54). As E.J. Parlanti & Co, the business cast F.V. Blundstone’s Belle Vue War Memorial, 1926 (accounts in Chetham’s Library, F.4.4.6.ii.c).
From the 1920s, other work includes Clare Sheridan’s heads, Lev Kamenev and Leonid Krassin, 1920 (Clare Sheridan, Mayfair to Moscow: Clare Sheridan's Diary, New York, 1921, p.47), Harold Parker’s small figure, Narcissus, 1920 (Parlanti 2010 p.37), L.F. Roslyn’s bust, Sir W.S. Brancker, c.1919-21, and other busts, Frederick William Pomeroy’s Robert Burns, 1921 (Auckland, New Zealand, see Parlanti 2010 p.38), H.S. Gamley’s statue, King Edward VII, 1922 (Edinburgh, Holyrood House forecourt, see Parlanti 2010 p.47), Edward Lacey’s bust, Henry Mayers Hyndman, 1922 (National Portrait Gallery), Leon Underwood's Flux, 1924, and other early works (example, Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven, see Christopher Neve, Leon Underwood, 1974, p.147; later Underwood did his own casting) and Alfred Gilbert’s bust, L.P. Smythe, RA, cast 1924 (Royal Academy, see Parlanti 2010 p.53) and Sketch for Eros, c.1891, cast 1925 (Tate, see Dorment 1985 pp.112, 303-4, as by Alessandro Parlanti but presumably by Ercole). As Parlanti’s Ltd, the business toned a lead figure by Gaudier-Brzeska for H.S. Ede, which was to be sent to Fred Staite Murray (inscribed and signed business card, Tate Archive, TGA 876/9/2).
Ambrose Pelligrini, 158 High Holborn, London 1790, Broad St, Bloomsbury 1794, 186 Drury Lane by 1799-1817. Also at Upton, Essex 1799. Statuary, plaster figure maker and plaster of Paris manufacturer.
One of the first figure makers to travel to London from Barga, near Lucca, Ambrose Pelligrini (1742-1817) was in England by 1790, when he was listed in Wakefield’s London directory as Ambrose Pelegrin. Four years later, he was recorded in Broad St, Bloomsbury, at the same time that ‘J. Pellegrin’, possibly a brother, was listed as a plaster of Paris manufacturer at Belton St, Long Acre. He is possibly the Mr Pelligrini who purchased plaster figures from Bartholomew Papera (qv) in 1793 and 1794 (National Archives, C 12/1431/20).
‘Ambrose Pelegrine’ took out insurance at 186 Drury Lane as a statuary and plaster figure maker in 1809 (London Metropolitan Archives, Sun Fire Office policy registers, 448/828097). He died on 10 May 1817 at the age of 78 (Catholicon; or, The Christian philosopher, vol.4, May 1817, p.250, accessed through Google Book Search) and was buried in St Pancras, where his age was given as 76 in the register. In his will, made 24 April 1810 and proved 20 May 1817, Ambrose Pelligrini, figure maker of St Giles in the Fields, bequeathed his estate to his wife Jane, and daughter Louisa, including his house and land at Barga in Tuscany (mistranscribed as Burga in PCC wills), making his wife and his friend, Edward Christian of High Holborn, his executors. He was followed in business at 186 Drury Lane by Thomas Stevens & Son.
Sources: Information on Pelligrini’s birth kindly provided by Bruno Caproni, July 2011. For abbreviations, see Resources and bibliography.
Updated March 2016
*John Pierotti, Birmingham from c.1784, 30 Dale End, Birmingham 1787-1798, Edinburgh from 1793, Canongate, Edinburgh 1794, Netherbow, Edinburgh 1797-1798, Foulis’ Close, Netherbow, Edinburgh 1803-1816. Figure maker, from 1807 teacher of Italian.
There were figure makers by the name of John Pierotti active in Birmingham, Edinburgh and London at one date or another in the late 18th and the 19th century. John Pierotti in Birmingham is identical with or closely related to the man of this name active in Edinburgh from 1793. In two entries for Pierotti in the registers of aliens in Edinburgh (see below), Birmingham is given as his previous place of residence.
John Pierotti (c.1747-1817?) can be found as a figure maker in records of aliens resident in Edinburgh (Edinburgh City Archives, Napoleonic Aliens Registers, nos 25 and 26, SL115/1/1, 115/2/1). In 1794 ‘John Pierotti’ was recorded as a stucco image maker resident in his own house at the foot of Canongate, Edinburgh, age not given, living in Birmingham from the time he arrived about ten years prevously (i.e. c.1784) until 13 September 1793 when he came to Edinburgh. In 1798 ‘John Domenick Pierotti’, figure maker in plaster of Paris, resident in Netherbow, Edinburgh, age 51, born Lucca, previous residence Republic of Lucca, who had arrived at Dover on 29 October 1770. In 1803 ‘John Domenick Pierotti’, figure maker, resident in Foulis’ Close, Nether Bow, age 56, born Lucca, previous residence Birmingham, who had come via Dover in 1770. The signatures and circumstances of John Pierotti in 1794 and John Domenick Pierotti in 1798 and 1804 are sufficiently similar to identify them as one and the same man.
Birmingham: Probably Pierotti was in Birmingham by the mid-1780s. When James Watt in his later years became interested in the casting and production of sculpture, John Pierotti in Birmingham supplied him with plaster, moulds, tools and probably figures between 1790 and 1793. These included moulds of Antinous, Venus and Atlas and bas reliefs in plaster of Paris for £2.5s in 1792 and tools and plaster in 1793 (Jane Insley, 'James Watt and the reproduction of sculpture', Sculpture Journal, vol.22, no.1, 2013, pp.42, 49 item 2163, 64n29; see also the same author’s ‘Picturing James Watt’,British Art Journal, vol.11, no.3, 2011, p.41, and ‘James Watt's cookbook chemistry’, Notes and Records of the Royal Society, 2011, available online at http://rsnr.royalsocietypublishing.org/content/65/3/301, especially n.19, referring to item 2163, a receipt from John Pierotti dated 1790 for purchase of moulds).
It seems likely that it was Pierotti who prepared a manuscript priced Catalogue of Figures of Plaister of Paris, a very early example of its kind (Science Museum, James Watt collection, 1924-792/2164). It specifies the cost both of casts and of moulds (at three or four times the cost of casts), sometimes with sizes. The catalogue includes classical figures such as the Apollo Belvedere, Antinous, Proserpina and a small-scale Farnese Hercules, figures of Virginity, Innocence, Prudence and Fortitude, anatomical figures after ‘Bugiardon’, ‘Hudon’ [Houdon] and Michelangelo, life size busts of Clytie, Atalanta and Sappho, more recent subjects such as Rubens, Van Dyck, Handel, Joseph Priestley and Shakespeare and also a high-relief of the Family of Count Ugolino. The above account depends on the priced catalogue and on Ben Russell, James Watt: Making the World Anew, 2014, p.208 (especially n.17), who reproduces Pierotti’s bust of Proserpina, derived from Bernini’s Borghese Rape of Proserpina.
Pierotti was recorded in Birmingham directories until 1798 but sometimes early directories were not fully updated each year. There is no other evidence of his activity in the city after 1793 when he moved to Edinburgh.
Edinburgh: From 1793 to 1816 John Pierotti or John Dominic Pierotti, his name variously spelt, can be documented in Edinburgh.
Pierotti married Sarah Allet (or Hallet) and they had children christened at St Mary's Roman Catholic Cathedral, Edinburgh (IGI, Ancestry, Scotland’s People): John Thomas in 1796, Joseph in 1798, Mary Teresa in 1800 and Mathew in 1806. Pierotti gave up figure making and turned to teaching Italian if as is probable he can be identified with John Dominik Pierotti of Foulis’ Close who appears in Edinburgh directories as a teacher of Italian from 1807 until 1816, when he would have been almost seventy. He may be the ‘Pierrotti’ whose death was summarily recorded in November 1817.
His son, Joseph P. Pierotti, teacher of music, was listed at Foulis’ Close from 1817 until his death age 26 in December 1824. Probably another son or relative,S.M. Pierotti, figure maker, was also listed there from 1817 until 1822.
It would seem that John Dominic Pierotti’s stock was taken on by another Edinburgh figure maker, judging from W.H.F. Baxter’s advertisement in 1829 referring to 'the extensive Collection belonging to the late J.D. Pierotti', which was to be exhibited at his new ware room, where he also offered to clean and repair figures (Caledonian Mercury 9 April 1829).
In 1800 Messrs Pierotti and Mitchell advertised a 'Grand exhibition of Wax-work… all made in this City [Edinburgh] … the Figures are as large as life… dressed according to the times in which they lived', including the Assassination of David Rizzio in the Palace of Holyroodhouse, Rosamond in the Bower of Wood-Stock and figures of Pitt and Fox (Caledonian Mercury 6 March 1800). It is not clear whether this was the London Pierotti (see below), exhibiting his waxworks in Edinburgh, or the Edinburgh man branching out into waxworks.
London: There was an apparently unconnected John Dominic Pierotti (c.1804-56?), doll maker, active in London, who married in 1822 and who was recorded in the 1841 census. His son, also John Dominic Pierotti (c.1833-91), married in 1864 when his father was described as a wax doll maker. For details of this family business of wax doll makers, active from the 1790s, or even as early as the 1770s, and ending in 1935, see UCL Bloomsbury Project. Either the father or the son was listed as a plaster figure maker in London directories by 1841 to 1852 or later (see Mapping the Practice and Profession of Sculpture in Britain and Ireland 1851-1951 at http://sculpture.gla.ac.uk).
There was a Mr ‘Piorotti’ or ‘Pieratti’, who remains to be identified, who was a customer of the London figure maker, Bartholomew Papera (qv), 1795-6.
Updated March 2019
William Pink, 25 Crescent St, Euston Square, London by 1827-1829, 2 Hertford St, Fitzroy Square 1830, 38 Windmill St, Tottenham Court Road by 1838-1839, 31 Mary St, Hampstead Road 1841-1852 or later. Moulder and figure maker.
William Pink (c.1797-1857) was a moulder and figure maker. He exhibited busts at the Royal Academy, 1828-30 and 1838-44. Pink was imprisoned for debt in 1830 as late of 25 Crescent St, moulder and figure maker, and for a short time a coal dealer and greengrocer (London Gazette 19 January 1830). In censuses, in 1841 William Pink was in Mary St, a figure maker, age 44, born in Middlesex, and in 1851 at 31 Mary St as a moulder figure maker, age 54, born in Wallingford in Berkshire, with his wife Sarah, and apprentice William Johnson. In his will, made 12 August 1852 and proved 8 August 1857, William Pink, moulder and figure maker of 31 Mary St, left his estate to his wife Sarah.
Works in plaster: William Pink succeeded James Cockaine (qv) as John Flaxman’s plaster figure caster and moulder, receiving payments, 1823-7, towards the end of Flaxman’s life (British Library, Add. MS 39791, ff.135-42, kindly drawn to my attention by Eckart Marchand). Pink took on the role of plaster moulder at the Royal Academy by the late 1820s and was responsible for ‘removing, repairing, & painting the Casts’ in 1836 when they were transferred from Somerset House to the Academy’s new home in Trafalgar Square and for further work in the early 1840s (Postle 2018 pp.487-8). Pink was recommended to the British Museum by the Academy in July 1839 (Jenkins 1990 p.105), on the strength of which he gained a contract with the Museum, undercutting his rivals, Loft & Fletcher, to make casts of the Phigaleain Marbles from Loft & Fletcher’s moulds. In doing so he gained employment at the Museum for the rest of his life. At his death in 1857 he was followed in post at the Museum by Domenico Brucciani (qv) (Jenkins 1990 p.108).
Pink produced a reclining écorché male figure in plaster, Smugglerius, from a cast made by Agostino Carlini, 1776, marked: Moulder W. PINK/ British Museum (Royal Academy, as purchased from John Flint South, 1834); while this figure is dated to c.1834, it should be noted that Pink’s link to the British Museum was not fully established until 1839. A later cast is marked: Published by W PINK Moulder 1854 (Edinburgh College of Art, exh. Smugglerius Unveiled, Talbot Rice Gallery, University of Edinburgh, 2010).
Pink was paid for taking down and moving the marbles in the Robert Vernon collection to the National Gallery and cleaning them for £8.11s in 1848/9 and for moving them again to Marlborough House and further cleaning for £4.8s in 1850 (National Gallery archive, NG1/2, pp.48, 105).
On the recommendation of Richard Westmacott, Pink undertook repairs to Flaxman’s plaster, Hercules and Hebe, and also painting in the Flaxman Hall in preparation for the opening of the Flaxman Gallery at University College London in 1850 (UCL Art Museum, Flaxman Gallery dossier, pp.106, 169, 221, extract from Flaxman Gallery Committee minute book, 28 November 1850, in University College Record Office).
For abbreviations, see Resources and bibliography.
*Francis Pitsala, The Golden Head, Lisle St, Leicester Fields, London 1749-1751, The Golden Head, Duke’s Court, St Martin's Lane 1751-1765, Wardour St 1766-1769. Figure maker and painter.
Francis Pitsala (d.1769) married Sarah Wall at St Anne Soho on 28 January 1747. He can be found in Westminster rate books, 1749-69, at the addresses above. He was a member of an Old Bailey jury in 1760.
In 1751, he advertised in a leading Edinburgh newspaper, describing himself as a figure maker willing to pack figures carefully and send them by sea or by land, and explaining that he had removed from the Golden Head in Lisle Street, Leicester Fields, to the Golden Head in Duke’s Court, St Martin’s Lane, opposite the church (Caledonian Mercury 13 June 1751, information from Helen Smailes). He took out insurance in partnership with John Lee, as painters and figure makers, from nearly opposite Chapel St in Wardour St on 14 April 1766 (London Metropolitan Archives, Sun Fire Office policy registers, 168/232825).
Francis Pitsala, figure maker in Duke's Court advertised in 1758 that he had opened a subscription for 'the Busto of his Prussian Majesty, taken from an original Painting' (Public Advertiser 2 March 1758). The bust was 22 ins high and available to subscribers at one guinea in plaster of Paris and 27 shillings in a 'much whiter' composition.
Francis Pitsala features in Robert Adam’s bank account in 1768 (Geoffrey Beard, Craftsmen and Interior Decoration in England 1660-1820, 1981, p.276). Pitsala charged some £41 for the painting work carried out in 1768-9 in the Drawing Room designed by Robert Adam for Lansdowne House (see Ian Bristow, ‘The Room [Drawing Room from Lansdowne House] in the Context of Robert Adam's Work’, Philadelphia Museum of Art Bulletin, vol.82, no.351/352, 1986, p.17, see also p.56 for a transcript of Pitsala’s bill for £260.5s, settled in 1770 after his death).
Powderhall Bronze Ltd, 21 Graham St, Edinburgh EH6 5QN, established 1989, 18/19 West Harbour Road, Edinburgh EH5 1PN from 2015. Fine art founders.
Outside the time frame of this online resource but see Powderhall Bronze, fine art founders.
Prince & Whitehouse by 1851-1859, Henry Prince & Co1860-1875, Henry Prince & Co (exors of)1876. At Great Guildford St, Southwark, London 1852, The Grove, Great Guildford St 1853-1870, The Grove, Southwark St 1870-1871, Ewer St, Union St, Southwark 1861-1876. Statue, brass and iron founders.
The engineer, Henry Prince (c.1815/7-1875) maintained a foundry in the Grove, Great Guildford St, Southwark for much of his life, initially as foreman to James Easton and Charles Edward Amos, as he stated as a witness in a court case in 1847 (Proceedings of the Old Bailey), and then in partnership with Samuel Whitehouse, as iron founders, etc, until the partnership was dissolved in 1859 (London Gazette 31 May 1859), and finally as Henry Prince & Co until his death in 1875, following which the business soon ceased operating. Prince began casting bronze statues in about 1864.
In censuses Prince was recorded in 1841 as an engineer, the son of William and Anna Prince, in 1851 as an iron founder, age 34, in the firm of Prince & Whitehouse, at Phoenix Foundry Grove, Southwark, employing 11 men, one apprentice and three boys, and in 1861 as an iron founder, age 46, born St George Hanover Square, employing 40 men and three boys, living at 183 Blackfriars Road with his wife Elizabeth, and daughter Mary. He died in 1875, leaving effects worth under £6000.
Henry Prince and William Lyell Groundwater applied for a patent in 1857 for improvements in pumps (London Gazette 28 August 1857).
Works in bronze: In the 1860s, Prince & Co cast various statues for John Henry Foley, including Father Theobald Mathew, 1864 (Cork, see John Francis Maguire, Father Mathew, a biography, 1865, p.343, accessed though Google Book Search), Sidney Herbert, 1866, marked: H. PRINCE & CO Founders/ Southwark (Crimea Memorial, Waterloo Place, see Public Sculpture of Historic Westminster, vol.1, p.392) and the gilt bronze seated statue, Prince Albert, erected 1875, with foundry mark (Albert Memorial, Kensington Gardens). This last met with a series of problems (see John Sankey, 'Thomas Brock and the Albert Memorial', Sculpture Journal, vol.3, 1999, pp.89-90). The sculptor, John Henry Foley died in August 1874, only to be followed by the death of Henry Prince himself in March or April the following year. Nevertheless, the statue was completed by November 1875 when it was drawn by six powerful grey horses through the streets of London from the foundry in Southwark to Hyde Park. An unidentified young Frenchman was instrumental in the founding process.
Other statues cast at the foundry include Edward Davis’s statue, Josiah Wedgwood, 1862 (Stoke-on-Trent railway station, see Stamford Mercury24 January 1862), Edward Wyon’s seatedRichard Green, 1865-6, marked: HENRY PRINCE & COMPY/ Statue Foundry. Southwark (East India Dock Road, Poplar, see Public Sculpture of South London, p.xvi and www.vads.ac.uk), John Birnie Philip’s Richard Oastler with two children, unveiled 1869, with foundry mark (#Bradford, Northgate, see Art Journal, July 1869, p.215) and John Mossman’s Alexander Wilson, 1873 (#Paisley, Abbey Close, seeArt Journal, 1873, p.349) and his figures for the Robert Stewart Memorial Fountain, with gilt bronze Lady of the Lake, 1873 (#Glasgow, West End Park, see Illustrated London News, 8 February 1873, p.130).
Sources: Information on works marked # kindly supplied by Duncan James. For abbreviations, see Resources and bibliography.
Found a mistake? Have some extra information? Who should be added to this directory? Please contact Jacob Simon at [email protected].
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