Image: sculpture by Adrian Jones “Peace descending on the Quadriga of War“, which surmounts the Wellington Arch at Hyde Park Corner, London. First put on public view in 1912.
“Thomas Thornycroft was an English sculptor and engineer. Thornycroft was born at Great Tidnock, near Gawsworth, Cheshire, the eldest son of John Thornycroft, a farmer. He was educated at Congleton Grammar School and then briefly apprenticed to a surgeon. He moved to London where he spent four years as an assistant to the sculptor John Francis. In 1840 he married Francis’ daughter, Mary, who was also a sculptor.
For the Great Exhibition of 1851 Thornycroft made an over-life-sized plaster equestrian statue of Queen Victoria which was much admired by the queen herself and by Prince Albert. He had the royal family’s full co-operation in its creation, the queen’s horse being sent round to his studio several times during the process. Fifty bronze casts of a statuette based on the plaster, but with the horse’s legs in a different position, were commissioned by the Art Union of London to be distributed as prizes between 1854 and 1859.
He made several memorials to Prince Albert following his death in 1861. The first to be completed was an equestrian sculpture at Halifax, unveiled in September 1864. He went on to create similar works for Wolverhampton and Liverpool. The one at Liverpool, commissioned in 1862 but not completed until five years later, was soon paired with an equestrian portrait of Queen Victoria (1869), the pose based on the earlier bronze statuette.
In 1867 Thornycroft was commissioned to make the marble group entitled Commerce for the Albert Memorial in Kensington Gardens in London. He chose to depict the allegorical female figure of Commerce as a civilising influence…George Gilbert Scott, the designer of the memorial thought the concept was “too complicated and artificial”.
Thornycroft also worked on a monumental representation of Boadicea and Her Daughters, exhibiting a “Colossal head of Boadicea, a part of a chariot group now in progress” in 1864. A short biography published that year said he had already been working on it for many years “at intervals”. The sculpture was not cast in bronze until 1902, 17 years after his death,
In later life Thornycroft worked with his older son John Isaac Thornycroft (who was to become a shipbuilder) on designs for steam launches, having, in 1864, purchased land by the Thames at Chiswick to use for boat-building.
In 1875, together with Mary and another son, Hamo (the meaning of the name Hamo is: House or home. Introduced from Germany during the Norman Conquest) Thornycroft, he designed the Poets’ Fountain, near Hyde Park Corner, London. Other works by Thornycroft are in the Old Bailey and in Westminster Abbey, London. Through his daughter, Teresa, he was the grandfather of the poet Siegfried Sassoon. Thornycroft died in Brenchley, Kent, and was buried in Chiswick Old Church, Middlesex.”