British bronze sculpture founders and plaster figure makers, 1800-1980 - R

An online resource, launched in 2011, selectively updated twice yearly. Last updated September 2018. Contributions are welcome, to Jacob Simon at [email protected]

Introduction Resources and bibliography

Bronze sculpture founders: a short history Plaster figure makers: a short history

Benjamin Rackstrow, ‘The Crown and Looking-Glass’, the lower end of the paved stones, St Martin’s Lane, London ?1720s-1737?, ‘Sir Isaac Newton’s Head’, the corner of Crane Court in Fleet St 1738-1748 or later, 197 Fleet St by 1768-1772. Cabinet maker, sculptor, picture framemaker, figure caster etc.

Outside the time frame of this online resource but see British picture framemakers on this website.

*Alessandro Ramingo, 12 Castle St, Cambridge 1866-1879, 9 Magdalen St 1881-1884 or later. Plaster figure maker.

Alessandro Ramingo (c.1815-1893) came from Palermo. He was was active in Cambridge by 1866 when he was first employed by the Fitzwilliam Museum (see below). In census records he appears as a widower; he was recorded in 1871 at 12 Castle St as a figure maker, age 54, born Palermo in Sicily, in 1881 at 9 Magdalen St as an image maker, age 66, a naturalised British subject, and in 1891 at 7 St Giles Court, Castle St, as a retired image maker, age 75. He died in Cambridge at the age of 78 in 1893.

Ramingo was sufficiently well known in Cambridge to be the inspiration behind a passage in Martin Legrand’s satire, The Cambridge Freshman, or, Memoirs of Mr. Golightly, 1878, where Legrand writes of how Golightly’s friend’s room was graced with ‘beautiful busts and sculptures from the studio of that celebrated Italian artist, Signor Ariosto Ramingo, whose "Buy a nice image to-day" is so well known’.

Little is known to survive of Ramingo’s work but for a plaster mask of Dante in the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge, with printed label: ‘A Ramingo/ 12, Castle Street, Cambridge./ A large assortment of Figjures, Crosses, Medallions,/ &c. always in stock.’ He worked for the Fitzwilliam in repairing and mounting casts and producing pedestals until the financial year 1877/8 (Cambridge University Library, University Archives, Syn.Ac.2).

Updated September 2018
Robinson & Cottam,
The Statue Foundry and Bronze Works, 1 Lower Belgrave Place, Pimlico, London 1852-1863, works, Battersea 1863-1870, other addresses from 1862. Statue foundry, engineers, iron and brass founders, also merchants, agents and contractors by 1867.

The business of Robinson & Cottam had antecedents in the firm of Bramah & Robinson, in which Charles Robinson was a partner, and which was referred to in a court case in 1857 (Morning Chronicle 25 September 1857). By 1840 it was recorded in the Post Office directory as Charles Robinson (late Bramah & Robinson), Pimlico Road, engineer, millwright, founder, etc, and by 1849 as Charles Robinson & Son, the address being given as Pimlico Road in 1851 and Eaton Lane South in 1852. As late as 1861 the business was listed as ‘late Bramah’s’. It is worth noting that the celebrated Joseph Bramah had died as long ago as 1814 and that his family business, Joseph Bramah & Sons, had seen a series of changes in partnerships as first one brother and then another retired, Timothy (c.1784-1838) in 1830, John Joseph (c.1799-1846) in 1832, Edward in 1835, and Francis in 1839 and 1840, and further partnerships with other parties at the Grosvenor Works, Pimlico, were dissolved (London Gazette 9 April 1830, 9 October 1832, 15 December 1835, 5 January 1841).

Frederic Robinson and Edward Cottam were in partnership by 1853. They took out a patent for improvements in hydrostatic and other presses (London Gazette 16 April 1858). Frederic Robinson (c.1825?-1883?) would appear to be the individual who died at Brighton in 1883, age 58 (The Times 9 February 1883). Edward Cottam (1816-1904) was christened in 1816 at Kidderminster. His father George owned a foundry in Southwark which supplied both structural and ornamental ironwork (obituary, see Sources below). Edward joined the family firm but in 1852 went into business with Frederic Robinson. In censuses, he was recorded in 1851 as an engineer’s assistant, living with his younger brother Louis, at 32 Great Portland St, in 1861 as an engineer, living with his parents in Wimbledon, in 1871 as a civil engineer, with wife Dora and three daughters, living elsewhere in Wimbledon, in 1881 as a civil engineer at Lee in Kent, and in 1901 as a retired civil engineer, age 84, at Hanwell. He died in 1904, age 87, in the Brentford district, leaving effects worth £182.

In 1854, Robinson & Cottam advertised as the Statue Foundry and Bronze Works, offering to cast ‘All Works of Art in the various metals’ (Athenaeum 25 March 1854). The same year, it was claimed that they had ‘gained a considerable reputation… by introducing a system of casting in bronze, works of art, however large, entire, and thus securing the tremendous advantage of correctly reproducing the work of the artist without the aid of workmen to screw or pin the pieces together’ (The Lady’s Newspaper 21 January 1854). The foundry was the first to specialise in using sand moulds for casting, as commonly found in iron casting (see James 1986 p.21 and Art Journal, September 1852, p.291). Many of the statues made at Robinson & Cottam’s foundry could be viewed on completion at their premises, according to reports in contemporary magazines and newspapers.

By 1863, the foundry had relocated to Battersea, where the cylinders for the piers of the Albert Bridge were cast (obituary, see Sources below). Increasingly, from about 1860, Robinson & Cottam broadened their focus. They were involved as agents in the development of the Riga Dunaburg Railway Co and in the Brighton Hotel Co and, in 1869, they were promoting the British Goodenough Horse Shoe Co, which made horse shoes (The Times 13 February 1869). After 1871, the business no longer described itself as a statue founder in the London directory.

The firm was formed into a limited company (see obituary in Sources below), with Edward Cottam serving as Managing Director until his retirement. It was put into liquidation in 1875, proceedings which dragged on for many years (London Gazette 31 August, 22 October 1875, 15 August 1893). Another partnership, between Frederic Robinson, Edward Cottam and Louis le Chevalier Cottam, trading as Cottam & Co, engineers and iron founders, at Winsley St, Oxford St, was reformed in 1872 with George Upton replacing Frederic Robinson, and again in 1875 when Edward Cottam withdrew (London Gazette 27 September 1872, 14 January 1876).

Works in bronze: One of Robinson & Cottam’s first pieces to gain extensive publicity was William Behnes’s statue, Sir Robert Peel, 1852, for Park Row, Leeds (now Leeds, Woodhouse Moor). It was said that the two ton statue had been cast by F. Robinson of the Statue Foundry altogether, instead of in parts as then usually the case, at a cost with pedestal of 1500 guineas (Morning Chronicle 21 August 1852). Further statues of Sir Robert Peel cast by the foundry include Edward Hodges Baily's for Bury, Market Place, 1852 (Public Sculpture of Greater Manchester, p.252), William Behnes’s for the City, 1853 (The Times 20 September 1853; now at Police College, Hendon Way, see Arthur Byron, London Statues: A Guide to London’s outdoor statues and sculpture, 1981, p.180), W.C. Marshall’s for Manchester, 1853, marked: The Bronze Works, Pimlico (see Public Sculpture of Greater Manchester, p.111-3; see also Art Journal, vol.5, October 1853, p.267) and John Mossman’s for Glasgow, 1859, marked: ROBINSON & COTTAM/ STATUE FOUNDRY/ PIMLICO (see Public Sculpture of Glasgow, p.132).

In 1848, the predecessor business, Robinson & Son, failed to get the contract for casting one of the bronze reliefs for Nelson’s Column since their estimate at £660 was significantly higher than the successful bids of around £400 by Christy, Adams & Hill (qv) and Moore, Fressange & Moore (qv). However, when the partners in Moore, Fressange & Moore were prosecuted for short measure in bronze content and then imprisoned in 1853, Robinson & Cottam purchased the unfinished casting of Musgrave Watson’s relief, Battle of St Vincent, and completed it the following year (National Archives, WORK 20/3/1, item 110).

The foundry undertook work for other sculptors (# information kindly supplied by Duncan James). It advertised George Gammon Adams’ bust, Sir Charles Napier, in August 1854, as just published in bronze and available at Bryants, 30 St James’s St (The Times 4 August 1854, The Athenaeum, 5 August 1854, p.798, etc; plaster example, 1853, National Portrait Gallery). Examples of the foundry’s statues from the 1850s include J.E. Thomas’s colossal The Duke of Wellington, 1854 (for Brecknock, see The Athenaeum 28 October 1854, p.1308) and his John Henry Vivian, 1857, with foundry mark (#Swansea), William Theed’s John Dalton, 1855, and James Watt, 1857, both after Chantrey (respectively Manchester, Chester St and Piccadilly, see Public Sculpture of Greater Manchester, pp.61-3, 117-8) and Sir Isaac Newton, 1858 (Grantham, see Nottinghamshire Guardian 16 September 1858) and Charles Bacon's Felix Mendelssohn, 1859 (#formerly Crystal Palace, in store by 1972; see Illustrated London News, 17 December 1859, p.570).

Bronze statues by Matthew Noble cast by the business include The Duke of Wellington, 1855 (Manchester, Piccadilly, see Public Sculpture of Greater Manchester, p.117; see also Art Journal, June 1855, p.195), Joseph Brotherton, 1858 (Manchester, Riverside Walk, see Public Sculpture of Greater Manchester, p.51; see also Liverpool Mercury 6 August 1858), General Sir John Neil, 1859 (Ayr, 2nd cast for Madras, see The Scotsman 29 August 1859), Marquis of Anglesey, 1860 (#Menai Straits, see Illustrated London News, 15 December 1860, p.569), Sir James McGrigor, 1865, marked: ROBINSON & COTTAM/ ENGINEERS, BATTERSEA LONDON (Sandhurst, Royal Military College, see Public Sculpture of Historic Westminster, vol.1, pp.6-7), Lord Eglinton, 1865 (#Ayr, see Art Journal, December 1865, p.371), Sir John Franklin, 1866, marked: ROBINSON & COTTAM/ FOUNDERS (Waterloo Place, see Public Sculpture of Historic Westminster, vol.1, p.390, and The Duke of Sutherland, 1866 (Dunrobin Castle, see Caledonian Mercury 26 September 1866).

From the 1860s, other examples of the foundry’s statues includeWilliam Behnes’s Sir Henry Havelock, 1861, marked: THE STATUE FOUNDRY/ PIMLICO (Trafalgar Square, see Public Sculpture of Historic Westminster, vol.1, p.297; 2nd cast, Sunderland, Mowbray Park, marked: The Statue Foundry, Pimlico, London, see Public Sculpture of North-East England, 2002, p.183, where foundry misattributed), George Lawson’s The Duke of Wellington, 1863 (Liverpool, see Liverpool Mercury 18 May 1863), Theodore Phyffers' Sir H.G. Ward, c.1865 (#Sri Lanka, Kandy, see Illustrated London News, 13 January 1866, p.42) and Patrick MacDowell’s Lord Fitzgibbon, 1865, marked: Robinson and Cottam, The Statue Foundry, Pimlico (Maurice Lenihan, Limerick; its history and antiquities, ecclesiastical, civil, and military, 1866, p.391, accessed through Google Book Search). The foundry supplied bronze and copper work for the mausoleum of the Duchess of Kent, with a proposed statue by William Theed (Frogmore, see The Builder, vol.19, 3 August 1861, p.531).

In 1872, the business undertook repairs to Edwin Landseer’s bronze lions (Trafalgar Square, at the foot of Nelson’s Column, see Birmingham Daily Post 21 December 1872).

The foundry also produced bronze statuettes, as is evident from Prince Albert's accounts, in the form of two consecutive payments on 22 April 1853, 'F. Robinson Bust of Bacchus £42 / Do. restoring imperfect model £5.5s' (RCIN 41049, known at Osborne as 'The Indian Bacchus') and a payment on 15 November 1855, 'Robinson & Cottam Bronze statuette of Sabrina £8.10s', which was modeled by William Calder Marshall (RCIN 35434). See Royal Archives, PP/PAPC/MAIN/ACC/LED, information from Jonathan Marsden, June 2018.

Sources: Edward Cottam’s obituary, Minutes of Proceedings of the Institution of Civil Engineers, vol.162, 1905, p.424. Information on works marked # kindly supplied by Duncan James. For abbreviations, see Resources and bibliography.

Gaetano Rovini, see Alexander Parlanti

*Royal Academy, London

The history of institutional plaster cast collections lies outside the scope of this online resource, but for the Royal Academy see R.W. Liscombe, ‘The “Diffusion of Knowledge and Taste”: John Flaxman and the Improvement of the Study Facilities at the Royal Academy’, Walpole Society, vol.53, 1989, pp.226-38, and Julia Lenaghan, ‘The cast collection of John Sanders, architect, at the Royal Academy’, Journal of the History of Collections, vol.26, no.2, 2014, pp.193-205, for Sanders’ collection of plaster casts of architectural’ details purchased by the Academy in 1830. See also the Royal Academy’s collections website at www.racollection.org.uk and Brucciani & Co, William Pink and Peter Sarti in this resource.

The Royal Brass Foundry, Woolwich, built 1717.

Outside the scope of this online resource but see Melvin H. Jackson, Eighteenth century gunfounding: the Verbruggens at the Royal Brass Foundry, a chapter in the history of technology, 1974. In summary, the Royal Brass Gun Foundry formed part of the Woolwich Arsenal complex. It was built in 1717, probably by Sir John Vanbrugh, and rebuilt in 1771-2. Since the closure of the Arsenal, it has been used to house the photographic and other collections of the National Maritime Museum.

In 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, vol.2, 1836, p.285). Thomas Campbell’s equestrian statue, 4th Earl of Hopetoun was cast at the foundry in 1834 (The Penny Magazine, vol.8, 1839, p.484).

Royal College of Art foundry, London.

The foundry was set up by Bernard Meadows (see Alan Bowness, Bernard Meadows: Sculpture and Drawings, 1995, p.18). It falls outside the scope of this online resource but to note the following works in public collections or public spaces cast at the foundry: Bernard Meadows’s small sculpture, Help, Frightened figure and his Watchers, 1970-9 (Ashmolean Museum, see Penny 1992 pp.126-8), Eduardo Paolozzi’s statuette, The Artist as Hephaestus, 1987 (National Portrait Gallery) and his large sculpture, A Maximis ad Minima, 1996-7, marked: CAST BY STUDENTS OF THE ROYAL COLLEGE OF ART 1996-1997, with RCA foundry mark (Richmond, Kew Gardens, see Public Sculpture of Outer South and West London, p.247), Cathie Pilkington's painted dog sculptures, Jasmine, 2000, and Bill and Bob, 2000 (Bristol, Millennium Square, see Public Sculpture of Bristol, pp.147-8) and Benedict Carpenter’s ‘medal’, Genealogical Object, 2009 (The Medal, Spring 2011, no.58, pp.74-5).

For abbreviations, see Resources and bibliography.

*Rundell & Bridge 1787-1804 (also as Rundell, Bridge & Co1802), Rundell, Bridge & Rundell 1804-1830, Rundell, Bridge & Co 1830-1845. At ‘The Golden Salmon’, 32 Ludgate Hill, London. Goldsmiths, silversmiths and jewellers, occasional bronze founders

This leading business, trading from 32 Ludgate Hill, is known for its work as goldsmiths, silversmith and jewellers. The focus here is on its occasional activities in casting sculptures in bronze for its designers. The business’s earlier history, going back to the mid-18th century, is not discussed here, but see Culme and Hartop in Sources below.

The guiding lights behind the success of the firm were Philip Rundell (1746-1827) and John Bridge (1755-1834). Rundell's nephew Edmund Waller Rundell joined them in 1805 when they became known as Rundell, Bridge & Rundell. In 1823, Philip Rundell withdrew from the partnership, leaving John Bridge, Edmond Waller Rundell, Thomas Bigge and John Gawler Bridge to carry on trading (London Gazette 17 July 1824). When Edmond Waller Rundell withdrew in 1830, the business became Rundell, Bridge & Co (London Gazette 20 September 1831). In 1842 a sale was announced of the business’s stock and lease (Morning Post 11 July 1842) but the partnership as Rundell, Bridge & Co was not formally dissolved until 1845 (London Gazette 11 July 1845).

Works in bronze: Rundell, Bridge & Rundell cast John Flaxman’s Shield of Achilles, 1824, marked on reverse: … EXECUTED BY RUNDELL BRIDGE & RUNDELL JEWELLERS TO HIS MAJESTY/ MDCCXXIV' (Fitzwilliam Museum, given by Rundell & Bridge, 1842, see Fitzwilliam Museum Collections Explorer; one of perhaps four casts in bronze, also cast in silver). The business was responsible for a limited number of works in bronze for two of its designers, William Theed (1764-1817) and E.H. Baily (1788-1867) (Sullivan 2005 pp.38, 96, 132). Such work is poorly documented but included Theed’s statue, Thetis returning from Vulcan with arms for Achilles, 1805-12, cast 1829, marked: RUNDELL BRIDGE ET RUNDELL/ AURIFICES REGIS LONDINI (Royal Collection, version Wrest Park, Bedfordshire, see Roscoe 2009 p.1236) and also probably Baily’s equestrian statuette, George IV on a rearing horse, suppliedby Rundell, Bridge & Rundell for £357 in 1827 (Royal Collection, see Royal Collection database; Roscoe 2009 p.60; Hartop p.159, no.88, for an ormolu version). The business’s name is attached to a reduced version in bronze of Francis Chantrey’s bust, George IV, c.1822-30, marked: RUNDELL BRIDGE ET RUNDELL (see Hartop p.159, no.89, suggesting Chantrey may have been responsible for the cast but this seems unlikely).

It is worth noting that Peter Sarti (qv), figure maker and moulder, claimed in his evidence to a Select Committee on the British Museum in 1835 to have worked on models for Rundell & Bridge.

Sources: Charles Oman, ‘A Problem of Artistic responsibility: The Firm of Rundell, Bridge & Rundell’, Apollo, vol.83, 1966, pp.174-83; Shirley Bury, 'The Lengthening Shadow of Rundell's', Connoisseur, vol.161, 1966, pp.79-85, 152-8, 218-22; John Culme, The Directory of Gold & Silversmiths 1838-1914, Woodbridge 1987; Christopher Hartop et al., Royal Goldsmiths: The Art of Rundell & Bridge 1797-1843, 2005.

[RA]