WILLIAM CALDER MARSHALL, R.A., H.R.S.A.

W. C. MARSHALL, R.A.

In 1883, Frank Dudman, assistant to the photographer Joseph Parkin Mayall, took this photographic portrait of the renowned Scottish sculptor William Calder Marshall in his studio at 115 Ebury Street, Eaton Square, London. According to F. G. Stephens, Marshall had resided in this studio for more than thirty years. His studio portrait, published in March 1884, was part of the first monthly installment of Artists at Home.

The artist appears comfortably seated with his elbow resting on the table beside him, which stands amid many of his sculptures. Both finished and unfinished works are on display, an indication of the great number of statues and monuments that Marshall produced. The small hooded figure on the far left is a model of The Venerable Bede Translating the Gospel of St. John (1869), a historical genre piece. The nearly naked maidens seated in a group in the left foreground are the Tali Players (1873), which highlight Marshall’s specialty in mythological and ideal figures; he represented the classical school of sculpture and favored the Greek profile. Marshall had a strong tendency to select female subjects, choosing to depict their purity, softness, and girlishness, and paying special attention to their breasts; in this case, the figures’ perfectly conical breasts show no effect of gravity. The large seated statue in modern garb, set high at the back of the room, is a cast of the statue of Samuel Crompton (1862), inventor of the spinning mule.[1] Psyche is the most prominent work, as her body stretches out directly behind the artist. The statuette beyond the swooning Psyche represents Pygmalion’s mistress, the statue that came to life. The standing, draped figure on the shelf is the Mother of Moses. To her right is a plump young satyr drinking from a rhyton, a cast from The Last Drop, a component of Marshall’s diploma work exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1848.

The variety of size, medium, and subject matter of the sculpture in Marshall’s studio testifies to the maturing market for sculpture in late nineteenth-century Britain. As a result of this newfound popularity, Victorian audiences desired glimpses into the lives of sculptors as well as painters. Artists at Home was a means of circulating images of Marshall, his work, and his studio, which constitutes another form of display.

Gabriella Meier

[1] Bolton Library and Museum Services, "The Life Of Samuel Crompton," last modified 2013 accessed September 30, 2016. http://www.boltonmuseums.org.uk/museum/museum-collection-highlights/local-history/the-life-of-samuel-crompton.

WILLIAM CALDER MARSHALL, R.A., H.R.S.A.