Richard Westmacott

Sir Richard Westmacott RA (15 July 1775 – 1 September 1856) was a British sculptor.[1]


Richard Westmacott

Born(1775-07-15)15 July 1775
Died1 September 1856(1856-09-01) (aged 81)
Resting placeChastleton, Oxfordshire
Known forsculpture

Life and careerEdit

Westmacott studied with his father, also named Richard Westmacott, at his studio in Mount Street, Grosvenor Square in London before going to Rome in 1793 to study under Antonio Canova.[2] Under the prevailing influences of Italy at that time, Westmacott devoted all his energies to the study of classical sculpture, and throughout his life his real sympathies were with pagan rather than with Christian art. Within a year of his arrival in Rome he won the first prize for sculpture offered by the Florentine Academy of Arts, and in the following year he gained the papal gold medal awarded by the Academy of St Luke with his bas-relief of Joseph and his brethren.[3] On returning to England in 1797, he set up a studio, where John Edward Carew and Musgrave Watson gained experience.

Westmacott's sculpture of John Locke, on display in the University College London main building.

Westmacott had his own foundry at Pimlico, in London, where he cast both his own works, and those of other sculptors, including John Flaxman's statue of Sir John Moore for Glasgow. Late in life he was asked by the Office of Works for advice on the casting of the reliefs for Nelson’s Column.[4] He also had an arrangement with the Trustees of the British Museum, which allowed him to make moulds and supply plaster casts of classical sculpture in the museum's collection to country house owners, academies and other institutions.[4]

Statue of Achilles (1822) on the Wellington Monument at Hyde Park Corner, London.

He exhibited at the Royal Academy between 1797 and 1839. His name is given in the catalogues as "R. Westmacott, Junr." until 1807, when the "Junr." was dropped.[5] He was elected an associate of the Royal Academy in 1805, and a full academician in 1811;[2] his diploma work, a marble relief of Jupiter and Ganymede, is still in the academy's collection.[6] He was professor of sculpture at the academy from 1827 until his death.[2] He received his knighthood on 19 July 1837.[7][8]


Among his works are the reliefs for the north side of Marble Arch, the sculptures of figures representing The Rise of Civilisation on the pediment of the British Museum, and the Waterloo Vase now in Buckingham Palace Gardens. This enormous urn was sculpted from chunks of marble earmarked by Napoleon for a trophy commemorating his anticipated victory in the Napoleonic Wars and then given to George IV as a gift from the Grand Duke of Tuscany.

Nelson and his ship, The Bull Ring, Birmingham
His funerary bust of his wife Dorothy Margaret (died 1834) in St Nicholas' Church, Brighton.

His statue of Horatio Nelson, Birmingham was the first statue of Nelson in Britain. There are other monuments to the admiral by Westmacott at Bull Ring, Birmingham, and Barbados,[citation needed] while that at Liverpool was modelled and cast by Westmacott, to a design by Matthew Cotes Wyatt.[4][9] In Liverpool there is also an equestrian statue of King George III sculpted by Westmacott, which was unveiled in 1822.[10] He was responsible for the statue of the agriculturalist and developer Francis Russell, 5th Duke of Bedford in Russell Square, and the one of the Duke of York on top of the column in Waterloo place.[2] His Achilles in Hyde Park, a bronze copy of an antique sculpture from Monte Cavallo in Rome, is a tribute to the Duke of Wellington, paid for by £10,000 raised by female subscribers.[11]

His sculptures of poetical subjects were in a style similar to those of the contemporary Italian school: his works of this type included Psyche and Cupid for the Duke of Bedford; Euphrosyne for the Duke of Newcastle; A Nymph Unclasping her Zone; The Distressed Mother and The Houseless Traveller.[2]

Westmacott also sculpted the memorials to Pitt the Younger, Spencer Perceval, Charles James Fox and Joseph Addison in Westminster Abbey; the statue of Fox in Bloomsbury Square; and those to Sir Ralph Abercromby, Lord Collingwood and Generals Pakenham and Gibbs in St Paul's Cathedral.[2]

His other sepulchural monuments include those to Lt. General Christopher Jeaffreson (died 1824) in St.Mary's Church in Dullingham;[12]> to Commander Charles Cotton (died 1828) at St. Mary's Church in Madingley;[13] to William Pemberton (died 1828) at St Margaret's Church in Newton, South Cambridgeshire;[14] to Sir George Warren (died 1801) at St. Mary's Church, Stockport, Greater Manchester, depicting a standing female figure by an urn on a pillar;[15] to Rev. Charles Prescott (died 1820), in St. Mary's Church, Stockport, showing a seated effigy[15] and to Mary Henson (died 1805) in Bainton parish church, showing a seated figure against an urn.

He created a sculptural group for the marble arch of the Cumberland Gate to Hyde Park.[16]

Personal lifeEdit

Westmacott lived and died at 14 South Audley Street, Mayfair, London where he is commemorated by a blue plaque.[17] In 1798 he married Dorothy Margaret Wilkinson.[3] Their son, also called Richard Westmacott, followed closely in his footsteps also becoming a notable sculptor, a Royal Academician and professor of sculpture at the academy.

Westmacott is buried in a tomb at St Mary's Church at Chastleton, Oxfordshire, where his third son Horatio was rector in 1878.


  1. ^ "Richard Westmacott". Royal Academy of Arts.
  2. ^ a b c d e f Knight, Charles, ed. (1858). "Westmacott, Sir Richard, R.A.". The English Cyclopedia. Biography – Volume 6. London: Bradbury and Evans. p. 653.
  3. ^ a b Chisholm 1911, p. 547.
  4. ^ a b c "British bronze sculpture founders and plaster figure makers, 1800-1980 - W". National Portrait Gallery. Missing or empty |url= (help)
  5. ^ Graves, Algernon (1905). The Royal Academy: A Complete Dictionary of Contributors from its Foundations in 1769 to 1904. 8. London: Henry Graves. pp. 239–40.
  6. ^ "Jupiter and Ganymede, 1811". Royal Academy. Retrieved 3 July 2012.
  7. ^ "No. 19525". The London Gazette. 25 July 1837. p. 1910.
  8. ^ Chisholm 1911, pp. 547–548.
  9. ^ "Prisoner sculpture from the monument to Lord Nelson". Liverpool Museums. Retrieved 3 July 2012.
  10. ^ Liverpool Mercury, 27 September 1822
  11. ^ Wheatley, Henry B. (1891), "Hyde Park", London Past and Present: Its History, Associations and Traditions, 2, London: John Murray, p. 253
  12. ^ Pevsner 1970, p. 332.
  13. ^ Pevsner 1970, p. 435.
  14. ^ Pevsner 1970, p. 443.
  15. ^ a b Pevsner, Nikolaus; Edward Hubbard (2003) [1971], The Buildings of England: Cheshire, New Haven: Yale University Press, pp. 339–340, ISBN 0-300-09588-0
  16. ^ Charles Kendall Adams (ed.). Johnson's Universal Cyclopædia: A New Edition. 8. p. 717. ("Westmacott, Sir Richard M.A." entry revised by Russell Sturgis) (found in this Google book search)
  17. ^ "English Heritage website". Archived from the original on 25 September 2006. Retrieved 12 March 2007.


External linksEdit