Mary Thornycroft

Last updated

Mary Thornycroft
Mary Thornycroft by Maull & Polybank,1864.jpg
Mary Thornycroft, 1864, albumen print (carte-de-visite) by Maull & Polybank, Department of Image Collections, National Gallery of Art Library, Washington, DC.
Born1809
Died1895
NationalityBritish
OccupationSculptor

Mary Thornycroft (née Francis) (1809 1 February 1895) was a British sculptor [1]

Contents

Biography

The daughter of sculptor John Francis and his wife Mary, Thornycroft was born at Thornham in Norfolk. She studied sculpture under her father, and exhibited her works at the Royal Academy of Arts at age 21. [2]

In 1840, she married Thomas Thornycroft, a student of her father. The couple travelled to Italy and lived and worked for a time in Rome. While in Rome, Mary Thornycroft became friends with the sculptors Bertel Thorvaldsen and John Gibson. On her return to London, Gibson recommended her services to Queen Victoria.

Moreover, Gibson’s recommendation of Mary is what marked the beginning of her sequence of royal commissions lasting from 1844-1877.

Thornycroft created numerous busts and statues for the Queen, chiefly of the royal children. The drawing-room at Osborne House contained nine life-size marble statues of the young princes and princesses that were modeled by Thornycroft. She also executed a number of busts of private individuals, as well as a few ideal statues. Among the latter is her well-known figure of a 'Skipping Girl'. [3] Most of her works were portraits of the royal children that were commissioned by Queen Victoria.

Thornycroft gave sculpting lessons to Princess Louise who was one of Queen Victoria’s daughters, she eventually became a sculptor herself. [4]

Thornycroft died on 1 February 1895.[1]

Family

The Thornycrofts had six children who grew to adulthood, two sons (Hamo and John Isaac), and four daughters (Alyce, Theresa, Helen and Frances). Hamo Thornycroft became a sculptor while daughters Alyce, Theresa Thornycroft, and Helen Thornycroft became artists. John Isaac Thornycroft became a marine engineer. [4]

The Thornycrofts were the grandparents of Siegfried Sassoon, the war poet, through their daughter Theresa, who married Alfred Ezra Sassoon. [5]

Artworks

Early work

Mary Thornycroft was hired as a sculptor by Queen Victoria. Thornycroft sculpted many different busts, fragments, and sculptures that are now within the Royal Collection. Her first ever sculpture that was exhibited in the Royal Collection was a bust of her father in 1835. As a woman, she had a limited choice of commissions, but she took the opportunity to choose infants and children as her subjects.

One specific collection called "The Four Seasons" was intended to be carried out by John Gibson; however, he was unavailable for the commission and referred Thornycroft for the job. Her work on the "Four Seasons" collection launched her career as an artist. Through this opportunity she became a significant commissioner for the Royal Collection from years 1844 to 1877.[ citation needed ]

The Four Seasons

Primary style

Mary Thornycroft's primary artistic practice was sculpture. Three main categories of her practice were busts, fragments, and full body compositions. The materials she specialized with were marble and sometimes bronze. Thornycroft's style was naturalistic and she could execute the age of the subject very well. The details that she accomplished in her sculptures actively displayed personalized expressions of each subject she sculpted. Due to her being a woman her commissions were limited therefore, she capitalized on her craft on subjects that were easily reachable for her to study these subjects being infants and children. This was an advantage because this is how she gained these notable commissions. [6]

She was well known for her commission of Four Seasons as well as, her sculpture Skipping Girl and Skipping Rope. Her fragment sculptures are interesting and were requested upon Queen Victoria. These fragments were to capture the likeness and act of souvenirs of her children. These are interesting due to them being made of marble, which is associated with funerary ideas. However, all of Queen Victoria’s children survived past childhood. [7]

The details that she accomplished in her sculptures actively displayed personalized expressions of each subject she sculpted. Her style of each sculpture evoke "ideal" figures.

Busts

Fragments

Full Body compositions

Notes

  1. Proctor, Nancy. "Thornycroft, Mary". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (online ed.). Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/27368.(Subscription or UK public library membership required.)
  2. Lee, Sidney, ed. (1898). "Thornycroft, Mary"  . Dictionary of National Biography . 56. London: Smith, Elder & Co.
  3. 'The Skipping Girl', Mapping the Practice and Profession of Sculpture in Britain and Ireland 1851-1951, University of Glasgow History of Art and HATII, online database 2011, retrieved 2 Aug 2011
  4. 1 2 Proctor, Nancy. "Thornycroft, Mary". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (online ed.). Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/27368.(Subscription or UK public library membership required.)
  5. Hart-Davis, Rupert. "Sassoon, Siegfried Loraine". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (online ed.). Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/35953.(Subscription or UK public library membership required.)
  6. McCracken, Penny (1996). "Sculptor Mary Thornycroft and Her Artist Children". Woman's Art Journal. 17 (2): 3–8. doi:10.2307/1358460. ISSN   0270-7993. JSTOR   1358460.
  7. "Sculptures - Mary Thornycroft and Abraham Kent". Google Arts & Culture. Retrieved 19 May 2020.
Attribution

Wikisource-logo.svg This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain :  Lee, Sidney, ed. (1898). "Thornycroft, Mary". Dictionary of National Biography . 56. London: Smith, Elder & Co.

Related Research Articles

Hamo Thornycroft 19th/20th-century English sculptor

Sir William Hamo Thornycroft was an English sculptor, responsible for some of London's best-known statues. He was a keen student of classical sculpture and became one of the youngest members of the Royal Academy.

Prince Leopold, Duke of Albany British prince, eighth child of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert

Prince Leopold, Duke of Albany, was the eighth child and youngest son of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert. Leopold was later created Duke of Albany, Earl of Clarence, and Baron Arklow. He had haemophilia, which contributed to his death following a fall at the age of 30.

Princess Helen of Waldeck and Pyrmont Duchess of Albany (more)

Princess Helen of Waldeck and Pyrmont was a member of the British royal family by marriage. She was the fifth daughter and child of George Victor, Prince of Waldeck and Pyrmont, and his first wife, Princess Helena of Nassau.

Princess Louise, Duchess of Argyll British princess, sixth child of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert

Princess Louise, Duchess of Argyll, was the sixth child and fourth daughter of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert. In her public life, she was a strong proponent of the arts and higher education and of the feminist cause. Her early life was spent moving among the various royal residences in the company of her family. When her father died in December 1861, the court went into a long period of mourning, to which with time Louise became unsympathetic. She was an able sculptor and artist, and several of her sculptures remain today. She was also a supporter of the feminist movement, corresponding with Josephine Butler, and visiting Elizabeth Garrett.

Princess Helena of the United Kingdom British princess, fifth child of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert

Princess Helena of the United Kingdom, later Princess Christian of Schleswig-Holstein, was the third daughter and fifth child of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert.

Princess Marie Louise of Schleswig-Holstein Princess Aribert of Anhalt

Princess Marie Louise of Schleswig-Holstein was a granddaughter of Queen Victoria.

Princess Helena Victoria of Schleswig-Holstein British princess

Princess Helena Victoria of Schleswig-Holstein was a granddaughter of Queen Victoria of the United Kingdom. From 1917 her name was simply Princess Helena Victoria.

Louise, Princess Royal British princess

Louise, Princess Royal and Duchess of Fife was the third child and eldest daughter of King Edward VII and Queen Alexandra of the United Kingdom; she was a younger sister of King George V. Louise was given the title of Princess Royal in 1905. Known by her shy and quiet personality, Louise remained a low-key member of the royal family throughout her life.

British princess Princess of the United Kingdom

The use of the title of Princess of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland is entirely at the will of the sovereign as expressed in letters patent. Individuals holding the title of princess are styled "Her Royal Highness" (HRH). On 18 April 1917, the newest granddaughter of Wilhelm II, German Emperor was styled a British princess from birth even though Germany and Britain were fighting in WWI. King George V wrote Letters Patent on 30 November 1917, to restrict the automatic assignment of the title "Princess" and the use of the style "Royal Highness" to the following persons:

Princess Alexandra of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha Princess consort of Hohenlohe-Langenburg

Princess Alexandra Louise Olga Victoria of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, was the fourth child and third daughter of Alfred, Duke of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, and Grand Duchess Maria Alexandrovna of Russia. As the wife of Ernst II, she was Princess consort of Hohenlohe-Langenburg. She was a granddaughter of both Queen Victoria of the United Kingdom and Tsar Alexander II of Russia.

Franz Xaver Winterhalter German painter and lithographer

Franz Xaver Winterhalter was a German painter and lithographer, known for his flattering portraits of royalty and upper-class society in the mid-19th century. His name has become associated with fashionable court portraiture. Among his best known works are Empress Eugénie Surrounded by her Ladies in Waiting (1855) and the portraits he made of Empress Elisabeth of Austria (1865).

Haemophilia in European royalty Preponderance of a genetic disorder throughout Western European royalty

Haemophilia figured prominently in the history of European royalty in the 19th and 20th centuries. Queen Victoria of the United Kingdom, through two of her five daughters - Princess Alice and Princess Beatrice - passed the mutation to various royal houses across the continent, including the royal families of Spain, Germany, and Russia. Victoria's youngest son, Prince Leopold, Duke of Albany, also suffered from the disease, though none of her three elder sons did. Tests on the remains of the Romanov imperial family show that the specific form of haemophilia passed down by Queen Victoria was probably the relatively rare haemophilia B. The presence of haemophilia B within the European royal families was well-known, with the condition once popularly known as "the royal disease".

Louise of Orléans First Queen of the Belgians

Louise of Orléans was the first Queen of the Belgians as the second wife of King Leopold I. She rarely participated in public representation, but acted as the political adviser of her spouse. Her large correspondence is a valuable historical source of the period and has been published.

Prince August of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha Prince of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha

August Victor Louis of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, was a German prince of the Catholic House of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha-Koháry. He was a General Major in the Royal Saxon Army and the owner of Čábráď and Štiavnica, both in modern-day Slovakia.

Royal Burial Ground, Frogmore Cemetery used by the British Royal Family, surrounds the Royal Mausoleum on the Frogmore Estate

The Royal Burial Ground is a cemetery used by the British royal family. Consecrated on 23 October 1928 by the Bishop of Oxford, it is adjacent to the Royal Mausoleum, which was built in 1862 to house the tomb of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert. The burial ground lies on the Frogmore estate within the Home Park at Windsor, in the English county of Berkshire.

Lady Feodora Gleichen

Lady Feodora Georgina Maud Gleichen was a British sculptor of figures and portrait busts and designer of decorative objects.

Descendants of Queen Victoria The 9 children, 42 grandchildren, and 87 great-grandchildren of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert

Queen Victoria, the British monarch from 1837 to 1901, and Prince Albert had 9 children, 42 grandchildren, and 87 great-grandchildren.

Diamond Jubilee of Queen Victoria Celebrations for the 60th anniversary of Queen Victorias accession

The Diamond Jubilee of Queen Victoria was officially celebrated on 22 June 1897 to mark the occasion of the sixtieth anniversary of Queen Victoria's accession on 20 June 1837. It was the first ever Diamond Jubilee celebration of any British monarch in history.

Susan Durant Durant was a British artist and sculptor. She was one of the first female sculptors to achieve critical and financial success in Victorian Britain. Durant created a substantial body of work, often in marble and featuring characters from English literature or the Bible, but much of which has been lost.

Thomas Earle (sculptor) British sculptor

Thomas Earle (1810–1876) was a 19th-century British sculptor.