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

An online resource, launched in 2011, selectively updated twice yearly. Last updated March 2022. 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

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Taylor's Foundry, Middlesex, see Art Bronze Foundry

Thames Ditton Foundry, Summer Road, Thames Ditton, Surrey 1874-1939, successively Cox & Sons (1874-80), Drew & Co (1880-82), Moore & Co (1882-97), Hollinshead & Burton (1897-1902) and A.B. Burton (1902-39). Bronze founders.

The Thames Ditton Foundry, over some 65 years and several ownerships, produced numerous major statues and monuments as one of the leading firms of bronze founders. It appears to have been built on the site of an historic ‘melting house’ on the River Thames. The history of the business has been traced by Duncan James, to whom this account is indebted (cited here as James 1972, see Sources below).

Here, the ownership and work of Cox & Sons from 1874, Drew & Co from 1880, Moore & Co from 1882 and Hollinshead & Burton from 1897 are discussed. For the subsequent activities of the foundry in the ownership of A.B. Burton and his successor from 1902 to 1939, see A.B. Burton.

Cox & Sons, 1874-80: Thomas Cox founded a business as clerical tailors in 1838, trading as Cox & Son, church furnishers from c.1853 and generally as Cox & Sons after 1868. The business was located in Southampton St, Strand, a centre for the church furnishing trade, with stained glass works adjoining in Maiden Lane. It contributed to several international exhibitions and published a variety of illustrated trade catalogues. The Thames Ditton foundry was set up by Cox & Sons in 1874. In 1876, Thomas Cox retired from the business, which was carried on by his son, Edward Young Cox (1840-1935), until 1880 when he entered into liquidation proceedings by arrangement with his creditors (London Gazette 30 June 1876, 13 January 1880). The business was purchased by M.J.C. Buckley and his partner A.S. Thomson of Buckley & Co, becoming Cox, Sons, Buckley & Co. The preceding account is indebted to a history of Cox & Sons by James Bettley (cited here as Bettley, see Sources below).

The Thames Ditton workshops and foundry were designed by Cox & Sons’ architect, S.J. Nicholl, and included an office, warehouse, keeper’s apartments and a reading room for workmen, as well as a building for woodworking, stonecutting and polishing, carvers, joiners and cabinet makers and metal workers. Nicholl’s design for the exterior, showing the gatehouse, foundry and chasing shops, was published in 1874 (repr. Bettley fig.3, from Building News, vol.27, 1874, p.224).

The earliest recorded works cast by Cox & Sons, under the direction of ‘Mr Moore, their manager’, perhaps at their Southampton St premises given the wording of the press report, were Horace Montford's reliefs on the base of Matthew Noble’s statue, 14th Earl of Derby, 1874 (Parliament Square, see Illustrated London News, 18 July 1874, p.60; for the statue see H. Young & Co). The following year, it was announced that Thomas Thornycroft’s equestrian statue, Lord Mayo, had been cast for Calcutta at Cox & Sons’ new Bronze Statue Foundry (The Times 27 August 1875). This work was executed under the direction of Moore the foreman (see below), whose services Cox & Sons had secured, ‘in taking up the work of heavy bronze-founding relinquished by Messrs. Elkington’ (Belfast News-letter 17 May 1875, from the Daily Telegraph). The finished equestrian statue appears in a photograph of the sculptor at the foundry (Henry Moore Institute, Leeds, repr. Manning 1982 p.64).

Other statues cast by Cox & Sons in 1875 and 1876 include Matthew Noble's Oliver Cromwell, 1875 (Manchester, Wythenshawe Park, see The Builder, vol.13, 1875, p.878; Public Sculpture of Greater Manchester, pp.152-3) and his Sir Robert Peel, 1876, marked: COXˑ&ˑSONS. ART. FOUNDERS (Parliament Square, see The Graphic 16 September 1876), George Lawson’s Joseph Pease, 1875, marked: COX & SONS/ FOUNDERS (Darlington, see Northern Echo 16 August 1875, Public Sculpture of North-East England, p.232) and his William Wheelwright, 1876 (Valparaiso, see Illustrated London News 14 October 1876, p.374), Thomas Brock's three bronze reliefs for William Rathbone Memorial, 1876, marked as previous item (Liverpool, Sefton Park, see Public Sculpture of Liverpool, p.186) and George E. Ewing’s Robert Burns, 1876, marked: COX & SONS ART FOUNDERS LONDON (Glasgow, George Square, see Birmingham Daily Post 26 August 1876, Public Sculpture of Glasgow, p.140).

Statues cast from 1877 to 1880 include Martin Milmore’s figures (now missing), Peace and History for his American Civil War Soldiers and Sailors monument, 1877 (Boston, Massachusetts, see John Bull 28 July 1877), Frederic Leighton's An Athlete wrestling with a Python, 1877, marked: COX. &. SONS. FOUNDERS. (Tate), John Mossman’s statues, Thomas Campbell, 1877, and Dr David Livingstone, 1877, marked: COX & SONS. FOUNDERS (both Glasgow, respectively George Square and Cathedral Square, see Public Sculpture of Glasgow, pp.62-4, 143-4), John Hutchison’s Adam Black, 1877, marked but partially erased: COX & SONS …. (Edinburgh, Princes St Gardens), Thomas Woolner’s John Stuart Mill, 1877, marked: COX. &. SONS. FOUNDERS (Westminster, Victoria Embankment, see Public Sculpture of Historic Westminster, vol.1, p.323) and Captain Cook, 1878 (Sydney, Australia, see James 1972 p.280) and Richard Belt’s Lord Byron, 1880 (Hyde Park, at Hyde Park Corner, see Bristol Mercury 6 February, 20 May 1880).

Statuettes produced by the foundry include John Willis Good’s A Huntsman with Two Hounds, 1875, marked: COX & SONs. FOUNDERS (Sotheby’s 9 July 2004 lot 128) and William Hamo Thornycroft’s A Warrior Bearing a Wounded Youth from the Field of Battle, 1877, marked: COX & SONS/ FOUNDERS, a variant without shield of a statuette cast by Hatfield’s (qv) for the Art Union of London (Sotheby’s New York 22 November 2005 lot 214; this or another with Fine Art Society, 2010).

Drew & Co, 1880-2: The foundry was continued as Drew & Co in 1880, following Cox & Sons’ liquidation, but biographical details for Drew have not been found. In 1881 it was claimed that the Thames Ditton foundry was so overwhelmed with orders that artists were having to wait for their work to be executed (Birmingham Daily Post 28 October 1881).

Examples of Drew’s work include Thomas Brock’s statues, Robert Raikes, 1880, marked: DREW & Co./ FOUNDERS (Victoria Embankment Gardens, see Public Sculpture of Historic Westminster, vol.1, p.321) and Daniel O’Connell, 1881 (Dublin, see Birmingham Daily Post 28 October 1881, Morning Post 7 December 1881) and his statuette, The Snake Charmer, 1880, marked: DREW & CO. FOUNDERS (Sotheby’s 10 December 2004 lot 197), as well as Hamo Thornycroft's Warrior and a Wounded Youth, marked: Drew and Co. (Sotheby's 4 November 1988 lot 82, see Penny 1992 p.170).

Moore & Co, 1882-97: By 1882, the foundry’s former manager, James John Moore, had taken over the business (Kelly’s Directory of the Six Home Countess, 1882, p.1389).

James John Moore (c.1826-1905) was christened in 1826 at St Saviour Southwark, the son of John Moore, engineer, and his wife, Mary. Already, by the time of the 1851 census, when living with his mother and sister at 26 Leather Lane, he was recorded as a chaser. He became a foundry assistant to Thomas Thornycroft (Manning 1982 p.34; see also Belfast News-letter 17 May 1875, from the Daily Telegraph; Beattie 1983 p.191). Moore was recorded in the 1861 census in Birmingham as a chaser, age 36, born in Lambeth, with his wife Adelaide, and children, Margaret, age 8, born Islington, Fanny and Florence, ages 6 and 2, both born Walthamstow and Joseph, age 4 months, born Birmingham, so suggesting that the family settled in Birmingham between 1858 and 1860. James John Moore became foreman for Elkington & Co (qv) in Birmingham, where three of his children were born, 1860-7, but moved to Thames Ditton when Elkington’s ceased bronze casting (Belfast News-letter 17 May 1875, from the Daily Telegraph).

In the 1881 census, Moore was at Hammond House, Thames Ditton, a bronze statue founder, age 54, born London, with his wife Maria, age 50, two daughters, Florence and Adelaide, and son Frederick, age 17, an apprentice bronze founder. In 1885, Moore was elected to membership of the Art Workers Guild (Beattie 1983 p.191). In a press report in 1892, he was said to have cast no fewer than 300 statues (Aberdeen Weekly Journal 8 July 1892).

In 1887 Moore’s daughter Florence married Arthur Brian Burton, who with Arthur John Hollinshead took on the business when Moore retired in 1897, trading as Hollinshead & Burton (see below). Another account identifies George Moore, possibly a brother or son of James John Moore, as being involved in the business, and claims Florence as George’s daughter (see James 1972).

In the 1901 census, Moore was recorded at Long Ditton as an agent for bronze work, age 74, with his wife Adelaide, age 70, and unmarried daughter Fanny, age 42. He died in 1905, age 78, in the Kingston district. His wife died in 1919 when she was recorded as Adelaide Maria Moore in the grant of probate to her daughter, Fanny Amelia Moore. Edward Lanteri had portrayed her on a medal in 1893 (British Museum).

William Hamo Thornycroft, son of Thomas Thornycroft, described Mr Moore of Thames Ditton as his bronze founder in a court case in 1882 (Reynolds’s Newspaper 17 December 1882). Among works that Moore cast for him were the statues, General Gordon, 1888, with related reliefs (Victoria Embankment Gardens, see Beattie 1983 pp.203-5, repetition for Melbourne, 1889) and John Bright, 1891 (Rochdale, see Manning no.27). Subsequently, Thornycroft turned to Singer’s (qv) to cast his work.

Statues and monuments cast at Thames Ditton for Sir Joseph Edgar Boehm, once he stopped using Henry Young & Co (qv), include Lord Lawrence, 1882 (Waterloo Place, see Morning Post 31 March 1882, see also Public Sculpture of Historic Westminster, vol.1, p.399), Sir Francis Drake, 1882-3 (Fitzford, Tavistock), William Tyndale, cast 1884 (Victoria Embankment Gardens, see Public Sculpture of Historic Westminster, vol.1, pp.323-5), Michael Thomas Bass, 1884-5 (Derby, The Wardwick), The Duke of Wellington, 1884-8 (Hyde Park Corner), Queen Victoria, 1885-8 (Sydney, Queen Victoria Square), John Elder, 1888 (Glasgow, Elder Park, see Public Sculpture of Glasgow, p.96) and the equestrian Prince Albert (Windsor Great Park, see The Graphic 17 May 1890). For details, see Marc Stocker, Royalist and Realist: The Life and Work of Sir Joseph Edgar Boehm, 1988, nos 228, 238, 272, 274, 281.

Statues cast for Charles Bell Birch include Earl of Beaconsfield, 1883, and Major-Gen. William Earle, 1887 (both Liverpool, William Brown St, see Public Sculpture of Liverpool, pp.266-7), Queen Victoria, 1893 (Aberdeen, see The Scotsman 25 December 1893), and, posthumously, a further Queen Victoria, 1893-4 (Adelaide, see The Scotsman 25 December 1893).

Examples of the foundry’s statues from the 1880s include John Mossman's Rev. Dr Norman MacLeod, 1881 (Glasgow, Cathedral Square Gardens, see Public Sculpture of Glasgow, p.71), G.F. Watts’s Hugh Lupus, 1884 (Eaton Hall, see Derby Mercury 15 October 1884), E. Roscoe Mullins’s Rev. William Barnes, 1888, marked: J. MOORE/ FOUNDER (Dorchester churchyard, see Illustrated London News 12 January 1889, p.60), Thomas Brock’s Sir Bartle Frere, 1888 (Victoria Embankment Gardens, see Berrow’s Worcester Journal 29 January 1887; Public Sculpture of Historic Westminster, vol.1, pp.330-1) and J. Woolner’s Bishop Dr James Fraser, 1888 (Manchester, Albert Square, see York Herald 16 April 1888). Also Onslow Ford’s bust, Sir Andrew Clarke, 1886, marked: J. MOORE FOUNDER (Sotheby’s 29 May 2008 lot 2).

Statues from the 1890s include H.R. Pinker’s W.E. Forster, 1890 (Victoria Embankment Gardens, see Aberdeen Weekly Journal 8 July 1892; Public Sculpture of Historic Westminster, vol.1, p.336), George Lawson’s Robert Burns, 1891 (Ayr, see Liverpool Mercury 23 April 1891), Bain Smith’s Robert Burns, 1892 (Aberdeen, see Aberdeen Weekly Journal 8 July 1892) and Albert Toft’s Henry Richard, 1893 (Tregaron, Ceredigion).

Moore was also responsible for casting medals and medallions including Joseph Edgar Boehm’s Thomas Carlyle, c.1875? (example, British Museum, see Mark Stocker, ‘Edgar Boehm’s medal of Thomas Carlyle’, The Medal, vol.6, 1985, p.14), William Hamo Thornycroft’s of his wife Agatha Thornycroft, and son Oliver Thornycroft, both 1888 (Philip Attwood, Artistic Circles: the Medal in Britain 1880-1918, 1992, p.19), Elinor Hallé’s Stanley Medal, Henry Morton Stanley, 1890, in gold, and in bronze in edition of 24 (example, British Museum, see Philip Attwood, ‘Elinor Hallé’, The Medal, vol.6, 1985, p.20) and Edward Lanteri’s medal, Sir Edgar Boehm, 1891, and Adelaide M. Moore, 1893 (examples, British Museum, see Philip Attwood, Artistic Circles: the Medal in Britain 1880-1918, 1992, p.21).

Hollinshead & Burton, 1897-1902: In 1897, the Thames Ditton foundry became Hollinshead & Burton, when it was taken on by Arthur John Hollinshead and Arthur Brian Burton, exact contemporaries, both with lengthy experience at the foundry.

Arthur John Hollinshead (1860-1902) was the son of John Hollinshead, a waiter. He married Florence Simms in 1882 and died early in 1902, age 41, in the Kingston district. He was apprenticed to Mr Cox, according to his obituary (Foundry, vols 20-21, 1902, p.390, accessed through Google Book Search). In census records he was recorded in 1881 as a bronze moulder, age 20, living in his father’s household, and in 1891 as a bronze statue moulder, living with his wife, Florence, and daughter. He died in 1902, leaving effects worth £2377.

Hollinshead & Burton were responsible for casting Bertram Mackennal's tomb relief panel, Walter Macfarlane, 1896 (Glasgow, Necropolis, see Public Sculpture of Glasgow, p.460), Frederick William Pomeroy's statue, Queen Victoria, 1903 (Chester Castle, see Public Sculpture of Cheshire and Merseyside, p.66) and Francis Williamson’s statue, Queen Victoria, 1903, marked: HOLLINSHEAD & BURTON FOUNDERS/ THAMES DITTON (Croydon, Central Library, see Public Sculpture of Outer South and West London, p.22).

A.B. Burton, 1902-39: see A.B. Burton

Sources: Surrey Industrial History Group, The Thames Ditton Statue Foundry: The story of the foundry and the preservation of its gantry crane, 1994 (reprinting text of Duncan James, ‘The Statue Foundry at Thames Ditton’, Foundry Trade Journal, vol.133, 7 September 1972, pp.279-82, 287-9, and including Tony Stevens, ‘Foundry Workers’, in the form of reminiscences from two former foundry employees); James Bettley, ‘ “An earnest desire to promote a right taste in ecclesiastical design”: Cox & Sons and the rise and fall of the church furnishings companies’, Decorative Arts Society Journal, vol.26, 2002, pp.8-25. For abbreviations, see Resources and bibliography.

Updated March 2018, March 2022
John Tiranti 1900-1910, John Tiranti & Co 1911-1937, John Tiranti Ltd 1938-1948, Alec Tiranti Ltd 1949-2021, Alec Tiranti from 2021. At 16 Arthur St, New Oxford St, London 1900-1902, 149 High Holborn 1903-1904, 10 Foley St, Cleveland St 1905-1911, 13 Maple St, Tottenham Court Road 1912-1941, 137 Albert St, Parkway 1942-1945, 72 Charlotte St, W1 1945-1974, 21 Goodge Place 1975-1981, 27 Warren St, W1T 5NB 1981 to date, 70 High St, Theale, Reading RG7 5AR 1974-2005, 3 Pipers Court, Thatcham, Berkshire 2005-2021, Campbell Road, Stoke on Trent, Stoke, ST4 4ET from 2021. Trading as edge tool maker 1900-1902, woodcarver 1903-1904, woodcarvers’ requisites 1905-1911, bookseller and tool seller from 1911, also trading in sculpture materials and as fine art publishers.

John or Giovanni Tiranti (c.1873-1926) was in England by 1900, if not before. According to Alec Tiranti Ltd’s website, John Tiranti was trading from High Holborn as early as 1895, but it was not until 1900 that he was recorded in the Post Office London directory. In censuses he can be found working on his own account at home, in 1901 at 16 Arthur St as a modellers tool maker, age 27, in 1911 at 10 Foley St as a dealer of requisites for wood carvers, sculptors, etc, born Turin, age 38, with wife Genoveffa, age 27, and two sons, Cesare, age 7, and Alexander, age 6, and in 1921 at 13 Maple St as a bookseller and tool seller with his wife and a son, Dominic, working in the business. He died in 1926, leaving effects worth £3684.

In 1914 Tiranti published a 64 page Illustrated List of Plaster Casts showing best specimens of ancient and modern carving: specially selected for wood carvers, sculptors, decorators, modellers, furniture designers, architects, and for schools of art, etc (MIT libraries). In 1922, Tiranti & Co advertised ‘Everything for every Craftsman’, stocking books, periodicals, specimen models in plaster-casts, figures and ornaments, offering a catalogue and also a list of tools and requisites for sculptors and wood carvers (The Year's Art 1922). Tiranti & Co’s 1934 catalogue featured ‘Scopas’ modelling stands and the ‘Scopas’ enlarging pointing instrument (Modelling Sculpture; A List of Scopas Requisites, 8pp). Between 1934 and 1936, ‘Tiranti’ had several small figures and a bust cast by John Galizia (qv). The New Zealand sculptor, W.T. Trethewey, described Tiranti’s as ‘a funny little old shop of book sellers & tool makers’; he was taken to see Tiranti’s instrument maker, ‘a little old man who lives in a cellar! I never saw such a hovel down many flights of stairs into a funny old room but the marvellous work he makes took me aback (he made my large pointing machine).’ (Mark Stocker, ‘A New Zealand sculptor’s diary: W.T. Trethewey in Europe, 1936’, Sculpture Journal, vol. 25, 2016, pp.118, 123-4).

The business traded as John Tiranti Ltd at 13 Maple St until bombed in 1941, selling sculptors’ materials and tools and antiquarian books, and publishing art books. The business’s records were destroyed in the bombing (The Sculptor’s Tool Catalogue for 1953, foreword). The sculptors’ materials business was relaunched by John Tiranti’s son, Alexander Tiranti (1904-71) as Alec Tiranti Ltd at 72 Charlotte St in 1945, with his brother, Dom Tiranti carrying on the book trade until his death in c.1949 as John Tiranti Ltd (which ceased to be listed in London directories after 1948, although not formally dissolved until 1970, see London Gazette 4 September 1970).

John Tiranti Ltd advertised from 72 Charlotte St in 1946 the reopening of their plaster casting shop, offering to cast models into plaster (The Studio, vol.131, March 1946, adverts, p.iii). From 1953, Alec Tiranti Ltd issued regular editions of the Sculptor’s Tool Catalogue, later called the Sculptors’ Catalogue, renewing a practice which had ceased in 1939. In the 1953 edition, the business was offering to cast clay or wax models in plaster and to cast plaster models into bronze by the lost wax process, as well as advertising tools for woodcarving, stonecarving, modelling, art plasterwork and pottery.

Following Alec Tiranti’s death in 1971, the business was reorganised to focus on sculptors’ materials. It relocated to Goodge Place, where it was run by Alec Tiranti’s son, John Tiranti (b.1934, retired 1999), with John's daughter, Susan Tiranti from 1981, and Jonathan Lyons (Susan's husband) and Robert Chenery (John's stepson) from the mid-1980s (Alec Tiranti Ltd website, accessed November 2021). Following the sale of the business to Richard Joplin in 2004, it moved to Thatcham in Berkshire. In 2021 the business merged with Potterycrafts and began trading as Potterycrafts Ltd from Stoke on Trent. Potterycrafts Ltd announced on Facebook on 23 August 2021 that it was welcoming the Alec Tiranti brand to the Potterycrafts Group of businesses.

The business described itself on its website as at April 2011 as the ‘Leading UK manufacturer and supplier of Sculptors' Tools, Materials and Studio Equipment, for Carving, Modelling, Mouldmaking, Casting & Restoration’, offering to supply a wide range of materials, equipment and tools to sculptors, modelmakers, mouldmakers, designers, prototypers, woodcarvers, stonecarvers, specialist plasterers, building picture and furniture restorers, potters and ceramicists.

Sources: Alec Tiranti Ltd website, accessed April 2011, July 2015, November 2021 (see business history under ‘About Us’).

John Anthony Tognieri, 4 New Orchard St, Bath 1830, 8 Church St 1833, 5 The Walks (‘Terrace Walks’, ‘opposite the Royal Literary Institution’) by 1837-1848, 12 John St 1849, 11 John St 1850, 7 Orchard St 1861. Figure maker and plaster manufacturer.

John Anthony Tognieri (1801/2-1870) was born in Tuscany and came to England as a young man. He married Eliza Martin at St James’s Bath in 1828. In Bath directories, he was described as an ‘Italian artist in models’ in 1833, and as a figure maker and plaster manufacturer in 1837, when he advertised that he took masks from ‘living or deceased busts’ and also supplied busts and figures for holding lights. A few months after his first wife’s death in April 1840, he married Arabella Carpenter, whose sister, Mary, in 1843 married Giovanni Mazzei (1813-72), a figure maker who had arrived from Tuscany in 1837. As John Anthony Tognieri, modeller, sculptor, figure maker and jeweller, he was subject to debt proceedings in 1845 (London Gazette 16 September 1845).

In censuses, in 1841 John Tognieri was listed as a figure maker at 5 Walks with several children from his first marriage, in 1851 Arabella, his second wife was listed at 14 Cornwall Terrace, Lyncombe, Bath, as head of the family, while John, listed as an artist, and his daughter Catherine were recorded in Holborn in London, and in 1861 ‘John Toginiari’ was living on his own at 7 Orchard St in Bath, age 56, a figure maker artist, born Tuscany. Tognieri does not appear in Bath directories after 1850. He died age 68 in 1870 when living at 3 Hetling Court, Bath, described on his death certificate as a master model maker.

Sources: Information from Peter Malone on Tognieri’s first marriage from parish registers (as Tognire) and on Bath directory entries; information from Linda Minns, Tognieri’s great-great-great-granddaughter on the death of Tognieri’s first wife, the 1841, 1851 and 1861 census records (where online transcriptions mis-spell Tognieri’s surname) and on Tognieri’s death certificate. See also Peter Malone, ‘An Italian Legacy’, The Bath Magazine, January 2013, pp.30-1. Information from Darin Mazzie on Giovanni Mazzei, August 2015.

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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