Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Noble, Matthew

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NOBLE, MATTHEW (1818–1876), sculptor, was born at Hackness, Yorkshire, in 1818. He studied art in London under John Francis [q. v.], a successful sculptor. Noble exhibited one hundred works—chiefly busts—at the Royal Academy. In 1845 he made his first appearance there as the exhibitor of two busts, one being of the Archbishop of York. Later subjects included J. Francis, sculptor (1847); the Bishop of London (1849); the Archbishop of York, a statuette (1849); W. Etty, R.A. (1850); Sir Robert Peel, a bust (1851), and a statuette (1852) afterwards executed in marble for St. George's Hall, Liverpool; the Duke of Wellington (1852); the Marquis of Anglesey and Michael Faraday (both in 1855); Queen Victoria (1857); Joseph Brotherton, M.P. (1857); Sir Thomas Potter, and the Prince Consort. The four last-mentioned busts belong to Manchester. In 1854 he executed a relievo in bronze, ‘Bridge of Sighs,’ and another of ‘Dream of Eugene Aram,’ to form part of a monument to be erected over the grave of Thomas Hood. In 1856 he gained the commission, after a very keen competition, for the execution of the Wellington monument at Manchester. In 1858 he modelled a colossal bust of the Prince Consort, to be executed in marble, for the city of Manchester. He was afterwards commissioned by Thomas Goadsby, mayor of Manchester, to execute a statue of the Prince Consort in marble, nine feet high; the monument was presented by Goadsby to the city, and forms part of the Albert memorial in Albert Square. In 1859 he executed a statue of Dr. Isaac Barrow in marble for Trinity College, Cambridge; it was engraved in the ‘Art Journal’ for 1859. There is also an engraving in that journal for 1876 of his Oliver Cromwell, which was executed in bronze, and was presented by Mrs. Elizabeth S. Heywood to the city of Manchester. Other works by him include the statue of Sir James Outram on the Victoria Embankment; of the queen at St. Thomas's Hospital (engraved in the ‘Art Journal’); of the first Bishop of Manchester (Dr. J. Prince Lee) at Owens College; of the Earl of Derby in Parliament Square, Westminster; and of Sir John Franklin in Waterloo Place, London. Of his ideal works, engravings appeared in the ‘Art Journal’ of ‘Purity’ (1859); ‘The Angels,’ ‘Life, Death, and the Resurrection,’ a mural monument (1861); ‘Amy and the Fawn;’ and ‘The Spirit of Truth,’ a mural monument (1872).

Noble was of exceedingly delicate constitution. The death of a son in a railway accident early in 1876 ruined his health, and he died on 23 June 1876. He was buried at the cemetery at Brompton.

[Art Journal, 1876, p. 275; Royal Academy Catalogues; Inauguration of the Albert Memorial, Manchester, 1867; Manchester Official Handbook; Graves's Dict. of Artists.]

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