Thornycroft, Mary (DNB00)

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THORNYCROFT, MARY (1814–1895), sculptor, born at Thornham, Norfolk, in 1814, was the daughter of John Francis (1780–1861) [q. v.], the sculptor, who brought her up to his own profession. She studied to such purpose that she became an exhibitor at the Royal Academy at the age of twenty-one. Five years later she married her fellow-pupil, Thomas Thornycroft [q. v.], and with him travelled to Italy and lived and worked for a time in Rome. There she became the friend of Thorwaldsen and of John Gibson (1790–1866) [q. v.] On her return to London she was recommended by Gibson to Queen Victoria, for whom she executed numerous busts and statues, chiefly of the royal children. In the drawing- room at Osborne there were no fewer than nine life-size marble statues of the young princes and princesses modelled by her. Besides these she executed a considerable number of busts of private individuals, as well as a few ideal statues. Among the latter is her well-known figure of a ‘Skipping Girl,’ which may on the whole be called her masterpiece. Mrs. Thornycroft died on 1 Feb. 1895. Two of her daughters, Alyce and Helen, followed their mother's footsteps in art. One of her sons, W. Hamo Thornycroft, became a sculptor and a member of the Royal Academy; the other, John Isaac Thornycroft, F.R.S., is the famous builder of torpedo-boats.

[Times, 4 Feb. 1895; Magazine of Art; private information from Mr. Hamo Thornycroft, R.A.]

W. A.