Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Montalba, Henrietta Skerrett

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1330553Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900, Volume 38 — Montalba, Henrietta Skerrett1894Lionel Henry Cust

MONTALBA, HENRIETTA SKERRETT (1856–1893), sculptor, born in London in 1856, was the youngest of the four daughters of Anthony Rubens and Emeline Montalba, all of whom, especially the eldest, Miss Clara Montalba, attained high repute as artists. Miss Montalba, who adopted sculpture for her branch of art, studied first at South Kensington, and then in the school of the Belle Arti at Venice. Later she became a pupil of M. Jules Dalou, the eminent French sculptor, during his residence in London. Miss Montalba first exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1876, and her work was often seen at the Grosvenor Gallery, the New Gallery, and elsewhere. She mainly devoted herself to portrait or fancy busts; some executed in marble, like those, of Doctor Mezger of Amsterdam (Grosvenor Gallery, 1886), and Dr. Schollander, the Scandinavian artist; others in bronze, like that of the Marquis of Lorne; but the greater part of her work was executed in terra-cotta, as in the case of her bust of Robert Browning (Grosvenor Gallery, 1883). Other works worthy of note were 'A Dalecarlian Peasant Woman' and 'The Raven,' representing a raven seated on a bust of Pallas, from the poem by E. A. Poe. Her last work was of a more ambitious nature, being a life-size figure of 'A Venetian Boy catching a Crab,' executed in bronze, which was exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1893, and at the International Exhibition, Chicago, in the same year. Miss Montalba was never separated from her family, residing in later days chiefly at Venice, and making frequent visits with them in Italy, Sweden, and elsewhere. Her pleasing and attractive personality gained her numerous friends. Besides her artistic gifts she possessed great linguistic talent. In 1892 her health began to fail her, and after a lingering illness she died at the Palazzo Trevisan, Zattere, Venice, on 14 Sept. 1893, and was buried near her father in the neighbouring cemetery of S. Michele. Miss Montalba was on terms of friendship with the Princess Louise (Marchioness of Lorne), who painted a portrait of her and presented it to the Academy of Ottawa in Canada (see The Queen, 7 Oct. 1893). Other portraits of her, by her sisters, Hilda and Ellen Montalba, remain in the possession of her family.

[The Queen, 7 Oct. 1893; private information; personal knowledge.]

L. C.