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

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

Henry Young & Co 1871-1899, H. Young & Co Ltd from 1900. At Eccleston Iron Works, Pimlico, London by 1873-1902, and Hayle Foundry Wharf, Nine Elms 1877-1902 or later. Iron founders, bronze statue founders.

Henry Young (1842-1929) established his company in 1871. He has been described as England’s first major art-bronze founder of modern times, whose foundry was a social centre for the London art world in the 1870s, so much so that many sculptors, including Alfred Stevens were his personal friends (Beattie 1983 p.259 n.7). Young’s business was picked out in an article on bronze statuettes in 1875, ‘At last, however, the firm of Messrs. Young and Co. – now in possession of the Ecclestone Ironworks, Pimlico, determined to make a more fruitful effort… [they] there were finally able to group together experienced French bronze-moulders and chasers’ (‘Art Industries: Bronze Statuettes’, Building News, vol.28, 1875, pp.710-2; see also Beattie 1983 p.183).

Here, the business’s work in bronze statue founding is followed until the closure of the Eccleston Iron Works in 1902. Before Young set up independently, he headed the moulding department at Holbrook’s foundry in Chelsea, though only 28 at the time, according to Hugh Stannus, Alfred Stevens’s assistant, on whom this account relies (see Sources below). Stevens admired Young for ‘the intelligence and enthusiasm with which he entered into the work’ and, through the intermediary of an industrialist friend, Leonard Collmann, contracted with Young to produce the bronze work for the much delayed and disputed Wellington Monument (St Paul’s Cathedral). With this encouragement, Young set up his own foundry at the Eccleston Iron Works, only to find that the ‘superior moulders accustomed to bronze work’ that he had engaged were left idle when Stevens failed to meet his promises as to the delivery of the models, leaving him with a loss of more than £1500 that ‘nearly broke him down’.

Young can be found in censuses in 1871 at 89 Manor St, Chelsea (Holbrook’s Manor Iron Works were close by), as a founder, age 28, born Skipton in Yorkshire, living in his wife, Fanny’s family home (she was the daughter of a master builder), in 1881 at 27 Trafalgar Square, Chelsea, as an engineer and founderman, employing 146 men and three boys, a substantial business, living with his wife Fanny and six children, in 1891 at 30 Trafalgar Square, an engineer and founder, with his wife and nine children, the eldest, Henry, age 21, a student engineer, and in 1901 at Bexhill as an engineer founder.

The business of Henry Young & Co first appears in London directories in 1873, trading as ‘bronze statue, art & general iron founders, pattern makers, smiths’ & builders’ machinists’, with bridge building added to their activities by 1879. In their full-page advertisement as statue founders in 1873, and subsequently (Post Office London directory, 1873, p.115), the business advertised ‘Sculptors’ and others’ works of art faithfully reproduced in bronze or other metals at one cast (without cutting models if preferred, up to Twenty Tons)’. A view of the interior of the foundry, showing one of the bronze sphinxes for Cleopatra’s Needle being cast, was published in 1881, including a description of the casting process (Illustrated London News, vol.78, 16 April 1881, pp.373-4). See Bronze sculpture founders: a short history on this website.

In the Post Office London directory in 1905, ‘iron and steel girder and joist makers’ became the leading part of the business’s trade description, replacing bronze, statue and iron founders, suggesting a change in direction. The 20th-century history of the successor business, H. Young Structures Ltd, Wymondham, Norfolk, in construction work is described on the company’s website at www.hyoungstructures.co.uk.

Works in bronze (# information kindly supplied by Duncan James). In 1873, the business claimed to have executed works of art during the previous year for Matthew Noble, Alfred Stevens, Joseph Edgar Boehm, Charles Bacon, [Edward Bowring?] Stephens and Theodore Phyffers. It advertised as bronze founders for Alfred Stevens’ Wellington Monument in St Paul’s Cathedral and illustrated two lamp standards, one for the Chelsea Embankment and the other for the Albert and Victoria Embankments (Post Office London directory, 1873, p.115; see also The Builder, vol.33, 31 July 1875, p.688, for the Wellington Monument). The casting for Stevens’ Wellington Monument was still in process in 1875 (Building News, vol.28, 1875, pp.710-20).

Sir Joseph Edgar Boehm described Messrs Young & Co as his foundry in a letter to James McNeill Whistler in 1878 (see Sources below), and indeed Young cast various of Boehm’s works (see Marc Stocker in Sources below). These included the statuettes, Herdsman with Bull, exh.1869, presumably a later cast, marked: H YOUNG & CO/ FOUNDERS/ PIMLICO (Victoria and Albert Museum, see Bilbey 2002 p.198; another at Althorp), Cart Stallion with Groom, 1869, presumably a later cast (Guildhall Art Gallery) and Thomas Carlyle seated, 1875 (Sotheby’s 12 May 1995 lot 130); the bust, 5th Marquess of Waterford, 1873 (Private coll.); the statues, Lion and Lioness, 1872 (Holkham Hall, see Public Sculpture of Norfolk and Suffolk, p.110), John Bunyan, 1873/4, with foundry mark (#Bedford, St Peter’s Green, see Illustrated London News, 13 June 1874, p.569), Horse Tamer, c.1874, with foundry mark (#Solihull, Solihull Park), the equestrian King Tom, 1874 (Dalmeny House, Edinburgh), the fountain statue, Charity, 1874, marked: YOUNG & CO/ FOUNDERS/ PIMLICO (Norwich, Norfolk and Norwich Hospital, see Public Sculpture of Norfolk and Suffolk, p.48), the statue, Field Marshal Sir John Fox Burgoyne, 1875-7, marked: H. YOUNG & CO./ ART FOUNDERS/ PIMLICO (Waterloo Place, see Public Sculpture of Historic Westminster, vol.1, p.398), the equestrian Albert, Prince of Wales, 1876-8 (Bombay, Bhau Daji Museum Gardens; see also The Builder, vol.35, 4 August 1877, p.787) and the equestrian Field Marshal Lord Napier, c.1881/2? (#Calcutta, St George’s Gate, see The Artist, vol.1, October 1880, p.303). Subsequently, Boehm turned to the Thames Ditton foundry (qv) to cast his work.

The sculptor, Charles Bacon, was sued by Young & Co for the remaining cost of work carried out, 1871-7, including for an equestrian statue, Prince Albert, erected 1874 (Holborn Circus, see Public Sculpture of the City of London, p.198) and the statue, John Candlish, 1875, marked: H. YOUNG & CO/ ART FOUNDERS/ PIMLICO (Sunderland, Mowbray Park, see The Times 6 August 1883; Public Sculpture of North-East England, p.181).

Other examples of the foundry’s work from the 1870s include E.B. Stephens’s Deer Stalker, 1876 (#Exeter, originally Bedford Circus, see Illustrated London News, 18 March 1876, p.286) and Matthew Noble’s 14th Earl Derby, 1874, marked: H. YOUNG & CO./ ART FOUNDER./ PIMLICO. (#Parliament Square, see Illustrated London News, 18 July 1874, p.60; for the reliefs see Cox & Sons).

From the 1880s and subsequently, C.H. Mabey’s three Temple Bar Memorial reliefs, 1882, one marked: H. YOUNG & CO/ ART FOUNDERS/ PIMLICO (Fleet St, see Public Sculpture of the City of London, p.115; Freeman’s Journal 2 September 1882) and his two sphinxes for Cleopatra’s Needle, 1880-1, marked: H. YOUNG & CO./ ART FOUNDERS/ LONDON. (Victoria Embankment, see Post Office London Directory, 1881, advert p.125, and Public Sculpture of Historic Westminster, vol.1, p.320), Onslow Ford’s Rowland Hill, 1881-2 (King Edward St, see Public Sculpture of the City of London, p.219), Mario Raggi’s Benjamin Disraeli, Earl of Beaconsfield, 1882, marked: H YOUNG & CO/ ART FOUNDERS/ PIMLICO (Parliament Square, see John Bull 21 April 1883), his Sir H. Hussey Vivian, 1886, with foundry mark (#Swansea) and his Queen Victoria, 1892, with foundry mark (# Hong Kong, see Illustrated London News, 28 January 1893, p.118), W.G. Stevenson’s William Wallace, 1886/7 (#Aberdeen, Duthie Park, see The Artist, vol.7, January 1886, p.27, and Illustrated London News, 7 July 1888, p.25) and Albert Bruce Joy’s statue, Alexander Balfour, 1889, marked: H. YOUNG & CO./ ART FOUNDERS./ LONDON (Liverpool, St John’s Gardens, see Public Sculpture of Liverpool, p.170).

From the 1890s and 1900s, T. Harvard Thomas’s statue, W.E. Forster, 1890 (Bradford, see Lancaster Gazette 5 April 1890), George Simonds’s Maiwand Lion, 1886, cast in iron (Reading, Forbury Gardens, Maiwand Memorial) and Frederick James Tollemache, 1891, statue marked: H. YOUNG & CO./ ART FOUNDERS/ PIMLICO (#Grantham, St Peter’s Hill), unknown sculptor’s equestrian Gen. Dhir Shumshir Jung Rana Bahadur, c.1893 (#Nepal, see Illustrated London News, 28 January 1893, p.118) and Princess Louise's Boer War Colonial Troops Memorial, 1904, marked: H. YOUNG & Co LTD/ FOUNDERS LONDON S.W. (St Paul’s Cathedral).

Sources: Hugh Stannus, Alfred Stevens and his Work, 1891, pp.29, 31; Marc Stocker, Royalist and Realist: The Life and Work of Sir Joseph Edgar Boehm, 1988, nos 60, 62, 123, 138, 168, 169, 173. For Boehm and Whistler, see www.whistler.arts.gla.ac.uk, accessed December 2010. Information on works marked # kindly supplied by Duncan James. For abbreviations, see Resources and bibliography.

William Young, see Sir John Steell

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