(British , 1827-1886))
Signed and dated Shakespeare Wood Romae 1862
Height: 21 ¾” (55 cm)
Conceived and Carved 1862
Private collection, UK.
Bowman Sculpture, London acquired 1995.
Ridley-Day collection acquired from the above, 1996.
Shakespeare Wood was born in Belfast, but grew up in Manchester. He was the son of Hamilton Wood (c.1805 - 1811), a merchant and manufacturer. Shakespeare grew up amidst considerable financial uncertainty, as his father's business interests depreciated from a partnership with Wood, Rowell and Co. until 1836 to bankruptcy in 1842 and a business in wood carving thereafter.
The early part of Shakespeare Wood’s career was spent in Edinburgh, where in 1847 he exhibited his first work at the Royal Scottish Academy. His debut was a marble bust depicting the Reverend Dr Duncan, who was Professor of Oriental Languages at the city's New College. Following many of his contemporaries, Wood moved to Rome in 1850, establishing himself as a noted sculptor and, by 1865, was sending works back to Britain for exhibition.
Wood was described as being a student of the Romantic school by The Portfolio of 1886, specialising in medallions, relief portraits, contemporary personalities and allegorical groups, usually in marble. Pieces sent back to England for exhibition at the Royal Academy included busts of Agatha Anstey and John Hatchell in 1868, a bust of the American J. C. Tebbetts the following year, and two pieces in 1871 portraying Henry MacCormack in marble and Elaine, a marble statue entitled "And thus they moved away etc" (Tennyson).
The sculptor's works are considered quite rare. A bust of Thomas de Quincey and a medallion of George Comb can be seen in the Scottish National Portrait Gallery, while a marble composition entitled Cometh up as a Flower is in the collection of the National Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney.
In addition to practising as a sculptor, Wood devoted much time to topography and studying the antiquities of Rome. He lectured on the subjects to English visitors and published a paper, The Vatican Museum of Sculpture, in 1869. This was followed six years later by another publication, New Curiosum Urbis.
Wood also became the Rome correspondent for The Times, a post he held for many years. He was especially admired for his extensive archaeological knowledge. Wood gradually abandoned his sculpting talents in favour of journalism and his love of the Roman antiquities around him.
This marble bust of a Youth is an extremely rare piece from Wood’s early years, dated Romae 1862. It was the first piece Wood sent back for exhibition at the Royal Academy in 1865. Although very classical in the treatment of the hair, the sculptor has demonstrated that even at this early stage of his career he was producing distinguished pieces of great quality and individuality.
Shakespeare Wood continued to live in Italy until his death in 1886. He died in Rome and is buried in the Protestant Cemetery.
E. Benezit, Dictionnaire Des Peintres, Sculpteurs, Dessinateurs et Graveurs, Grund, Paris, 1976, Vol.10. P.790
J. Mackay, Dictionary of Western Sculptors in bronze, Antiques Collectors Club, Suffolk, 1977. P.397
Grave's, RAA Exhibitors 1769-1904, 1970, Vol. 4. P.340
J. M. Gray Scottish National Portrait Gallery, Edinburgh, Exhibition catalogue, Board of manufacutres, 1890. P. 273
Marcus. B. Huieh, Year's Art, 1887. P. 230 - Obituary
Philip. G. Hamerton,The Portfolio v.17 (1886), London : Seeley, 1870-1893. P.64
Thieme Becker, Allgemeines Lexikan der Bildenden Kunstler, Sechsunddreissigster Band,
Leipzig, vol. XXXVI, 1947. P. 244
Peter McEwan, Dictionary of Scottish Art and Architecture, Antiques Collectors Club, Suffolk, 1988. P. 618