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British bronze sculpture founders and plaster figure makers, 1800-1980 - W

An online resource, launched in 2011, selectively updated twice yearly. Last updated March 2020. Contributions are welcome, to Jacob Simon at volunteerjsimon@npg.org.uk.

Introduction Resources and bibliography

Bronze sculpture founders: a short history Plaster figure makers: a short history

Adam Walker, see Sir John Steell

Sir Richard Westmacott, foundry, Pimlico by 1809? Sculptor, bronze founder and supplier of plaster casts.

Sculptors’ own foundries lie outside the immediate scope of this online resource but Westmacott’s is included, as are those of Sir Francis Chantrey (qv) and Sir John Steell (qv) for their wider significance. The work of Sir Richard Westmacott, RA (1775-1856) has been explored byMarie Busco, to whom this account is indebted (see Sources below, cited here as Busco 1994).

Westmacott stated that he gained experience in bronze casting through his work on the Nelson Monument, 1806-9 (Birmingham, see Public Sculpture of Birmingham, p.116, and Busco 1994 pp.43-5) and the Charles James Fox Monument, 1810-14 (Bloomsbury Square, see Busco 1994 pp.70-3). At one stage, Westmacott was known as 'the only caster of bronze statuary, of a large size, in the kingdom’ (W.C. Aitken, The Early History of Brass and the Brass Manufactures of Birmingham, 1866, p.160, accessed through Google Book Search). Allan Cunningham stated that Westmacott’s foundry, like that of Chantrey, was open ‘to any one whom curiosity or chance may happen to conduct to the artist's studio’ but no informative account of a visit to Westmacott’s foundry has been traced (Allan Cunningham, The lives of the most eminent British painters and sculptors, 1837, vol.3, p.209).

Other statues by Westmacott in bronze include Frances Russell, 5th Duke of Bedford, 1808-9 (Russell Square, see Busco 1994 pp.88-9), Achilles, monument to the Duke of Wellington, 1822 (Hyde Park, see Busco 1994 pp.51-5), George Canning, 1832 (Parliament Square, see The Athenaeum, 1832, p.291, and Busco 1994 pp.79-80) and The Duke of York, 1833-4 (Carlton House Terrace, see Busco 1994 pp.63-4).

Westmacott undertook or facilitated bronze foundry work for other sculptors. He cast Matthew Cotes Wyatt's Lord Nelson Monument, 1809 (Liverpool, see Busco 1994 pp.46-51), and John Flaxman's statue, Sir John Moore, 1810-18 (Glasgow, see Busco 1994 p.24). In old age, Westmacott was asked to advise the Office of Works on the casting of the reliefs for Nelson’s Column in Trafalgar Square.

By arrangement with the Trustees of the British Museum, Westmacott made moulds and supplied plaster casts of classical marbles belonging to the British Museum to country house owners, academies and institutions in London, Plymouth, Bristol, Edinburgh and Dublin, and to institutions and courts in various European cities, 1816-23 and perhaps subsequently. He had assistance from Matthew Mazzoni (qv) and Peter Sarti (qv) (see Jenkins 1990 pp.101-5). Westmacott gave evidence about mould making at the Museum and the supply of casts to the 1835 Select Committee on the British Museum (House of Commons, Report from the Select Committee on the Condition, Management and Affairs of the British Museum, 1835). For purchases by the Board of Manufacturers in Edinburgh, 1835-8, see the entry in this resource for Peter Sarti.

Sources: Marie Busco, Sir Richard Westmacott: Sculptor, Cambridge, 1994.

Woolwich Foundry, see Royal Brass Foundry

Found a mistake? Have some extra information? Who should be added to this directory? Please contact Jacob Simon at volunteerjsimon@npg.org.uk.