Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Pierce, Edward

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PIERCE or PEARCE, EDWARD (d. 1698), sculptor and mason, practised in London during the latter half of the seventeenth century, and was son of Edward Pierce, a decorative painter of some repute about 1640 to 1666. The elder Pierce was for some time employed by Vandyck as an assistant, but his chief works were altar-pieces, ceilings, &c., in London churches, all of which have unfortunately perished either in the great fire or in subsequent conflagrations. The same fate attended the examples of his art at Belvoir Castle in Lincolnshire. He is said to have etched a series of designs for ornamental friezes, published in 1640, and to have died at Stamford in Lincolnshire about 1670. A portrait of the elder Pierce, painted by Isaac Fuller [q. v.], was in the collection of Colonel Seymor and afterwards in that of Horace Walpole at Strawberry Hill. Another of his sons, John Pierce, also became a painter.

Edward Pierce the younger was a pupil of Edward Bird [q. v.], the sculptor, and was for a considerable time employed as an assistant to Sir Christopher Wren. He rebuilt the church of St. Clement Danes in the Strand in 1680 from Wren's designs; the original contract is in the British Museum (Addit. Chart. 1605; in this his name is written ‘Pearce’). He also executed the four dragons at the angles of the pedestal to the monument on Fish Street Hill, the statues of Sir Thomas Gresham and Edward III for the Royal Exchange, a large marble vase for Hampton Court Palace, and the busts of Sir Isaac Newton and Sir Christopher Wren for the Sheldonian Theatre, Oxford. Pierce executed a marble bust of Oliver Cromwell, now in the possession of E. J. Stanley, esq., at Quantock Lodge, Somerset; the terra-cotta model of this bust is in the National Portrait Gallery. His largest though not his best work in sculpture was the monument to Sir William Maynard in Little Easton church, Essex. Pierce died in Surrey Street, Strand, in 1698, and was buried in the Savoy.

[Walpole's Anecdotes of Painting, ed. Wornum; De Piles's Lives of the Painters; Redgrave's Dict. of Artists.]

L. C.