1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Westmacott, Sir Richard

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WESTMACOTT, SIR RICHARD (1775–1856), British sculptor, was born in London, and while yet a boy learned the rudiments of the plastic art in the studio of his father, who was then a sculptor of some reputation. In 1793, at the age of eighteen, he went to Rome and became a pupil of Canova, then at the height of his fame. Under the prevailing influences of Italy at that time, Westmacott devoted all his energies to the study of classical sculpture, and throughout his life his real sympathies were with pagan rather than with Christian art. Within a year of his arrival in Rome he won the first prize for sculpture offered by the Florentine academy of arts, and in the following year (1795) he gained the papal gold medal awarded by the Roman Academy of St Luke with his bas-relief of Joseph and his brethren. In 1798, on the 20th of February, he married Dorothy Margaret, daughter of Dr Wilkinson of Jamaica. On his return to London Westmacott began to exhibit his works yearly at the Royal Academy, the first work so exhibited being his bust of Sir William Chambers. In 1805 he was elected an associate, and in 1811 a full member of the Royal Academy, his diploma work being a “Ganymede” in high relief; in 1827 he was appointed to succeed Flaxman as Royal Academy professor of sculpture, and in 1837 he was knighted. A very large number of important public monuments were executed by him, including many portrait statues; but little can be said in praise of such works as the statue on the duke of York’s column (1833), the portrait of Fox in Bloomsbury Square, or that of the duke of Bedford in Russell Square. Much admiration was expressed at the time for Westmacott’s monuments to Collingwood and Sir Ralph Abercromby in St Paul’s Cathedral, and that of Mrs Warren in Westminster Abbery; but subjects like these were far less congenial to him than sculpture of a more classical type, such as the pedimental figures representing the progress of civilization over the portico of the British Museum, completed in 1847, and his colossal nude statute of Achilles in bronze, copied from the original on Monte Cavallo in Rome, and reared in 1822 by the ladies of England in Hyde Park as a compliment to the duke of Wellington. He died on the 1st of September 1856.