Biographical sketch of W. C. Marshall

Date Created

c. 1884


Frederick George Stephens (1828-1907), author and editor


F. G. Stephens, Artists at Home, photographed by J. P. Mayall and reproduced in facsimile by photoengraving on copper plates; edited, with biographical notes and descriptions, by Frederick George Stephens (London: Sampson Low, Marston, Searle and Rivington; New York: Appleton & Co., 1884), pp. 5-7


Marshall, William Calder (1813-1894), Scottish sculptor

Date Issued

March 1884


William Calder Marshall was born in 1813 in Edinburgh. He studied at Edinburgh University and attended the Trustees Academy. In 1834 Marshall moved to London and entered the Royal Academy. Marshall was a prolific sculptor, producing poetic and ideal works in the Classical style, as well as memorial statues. He received many commissions for public statues, architectural works, and church monuments. Specifically, he designed and executed statues of Michelangelo and Titian on the façade of the Burlington House in 1873.


The online edition of this work in the public domain, i.e., not protected by copyright, has been produced by the National Gallery of Art.




Department of Image Collections, National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC
Omeka record contributed by Gabriella Meier

Date Submitted

September 29, 2016

Date Modified

October 1, 2016





The Doyen of the English sculptors, an artist still active in his profession, and, as the photograph shows, devoted to the production of large and thoughtful works, was born in Edinburgh in 1813, and received his education in the High School and University of that city.  As a student of the Trustees’ Academy, the only school of art at that time in Edinburgh, he was instructed in drawing under Sir William Allan.  At this early period of his career he showed a taste for sculpture, and several of his works were admitted to the Exhibition of the Royal Scottish Academy. Sir Francis Chantrey, while on a visit to Edinburgh, seeing some of his drawings, advised his coming to London, which he did on being admitted to the Royal Academy as a student in 1834. Chantrey kindly allowed him to have the run of his studio, but after a time, preferring a more poetic treatment of art, he became a pupil of Baily, paying a premium for a year.  “A Head of Camilla,” which was at the Academy in 1835, was Calder Marshall’s first public essay in London.  In 1836 he sent to the same exhibition “Hero guiding Leander across the Hellespont,” “Innocence,” and “Samson.”  In this year he went to Rome, where he remained until 1838, and, meanwhile, executed the statue of “Hebe,” now in the Scottish National Gallery.  In 1837 he completed a figure of “Psyche,” which attracted much praise in Trafalgar Square in that year.  In 1839, “Cupid feeding the Doves of Venus,” “Sterne’s Maria,” and “The Dead Ass,” likewise from Sterne, which were at the Academy, illustrated two modern genre subjects such as the author has sometimes treated at later dates.  To the British Institution he sent “Rebecca at the Well.”  At the latter gallery in the following year was “Hercules rescuing Hesione,” and the Academy contained “The Creation of Adam,” “Cupid and Psyche,” “Una and the Lion,” and “Ophelia.”  The artist was in this year elected an Associate of the Scottish Academy; at a later date he was chosen an Honorary R.S.A., non-residence rendering him ineligible as an Academician.  In 1841 he obtained the Royal Academy gold medal for “Venus rescuing Æneas from Diomedes.”

            From this period Calder Marshall has but once (1861) failed to contribute to the chief {6} London exhibitions.  He frequently appeared at the British Institution.  His very numerous works are marked by the care and learned execution proper to the views of an artist who accepts the long-honoured canons of sculpture, and believes that his powers should be exercised in the pursuit of beauty, so, like the great Greeks, he selects forms from Nature best suited to express the type and sentiment of his works, not, as the realists do, copying individual and common nature.  He has seldom produced portrait busts such as those to which most modern sculptors look for their daily bread, and he has consistently applied his powers to pathetic and poetic subjects, of which many illustrations have found wide acceptance, including “Sabrina,” nymph of the Severn celebrated by Milton, a statue which Copeland reproduced in small.  The even better-known group of boy and girl lovers, called “The First Whisper of Love,” was chosen for reduction, and obtained a £300 prize in the Art Union of London. “Rebecca” and other examples were correspondingly fortunate. “The Dancing Girl reposing” obtained an Art Union premium of £500, and large numbers of reductions of the statue were distributed among subscribers to that society.  In 1844 Mr. Marshall was selected with two other sculptors at the great competition held in Westminster Hall for the statues for the Houses of Parliament, of which he executed Clarendon and Lord Somers. Among his equally important commissions were the group of Peel and attendant figures of the Arts, Sciences, and Commerce, at Manchester; “Jenner,” now in the Kensington Gardens; “Campbell,” in Poets’ Corner; “Crompton,” inventor of the mule for spinning, which is at Bolton; “Sir George Grey,” at Cape Town; “Captain Coram,” in front of the Foundling Hospital; “Lady John Manners,” in Rowsley Church; three important bas-reliefs, being adjuncts to the Wellington Monument in St. Paul’s; the pediment of the Town Hall, at Bolton; “Griselda,” in the Mansion House, London, and various other public and private commissions of note.

            The most important of his works were exhibited in the following order:  1841, “Caractacus before Claudius,” “Puck,” and a bust of “Ophelia;” 1842, “The Broken Pitcher,” and “Venus rescuing Æneas,” the prize work of the preceding year, “The Fountain Glass,” from Ovid, and “Eve and the First-born;” 1843, “Paul and Virginia,” and “David with the Head of Goliath;” 1844, “Little Red Riding Hood,” and “Christ blessing little Children.”  In this year the artist was elected an Associate of the Royal Academy.  1845 produced “Paul and Virginia,” and “The First Whisper of Love.”  In 1846 he exhibited “Eve,” “Sabrina,” and “Hero guiding Leander;” 1847, “Eurydice,” and “The First Step;” 1848, “The Dancing Girl reposing,” and “The Last Drop,” see below; 1849, “The Grecian Maid,” “Thomas Campbell” (for Poets’ Corner), and “Zephyr and Aurora;” 1850, “Nymphs,” and “A Mermaid on a Dolphin’s Back,” and, in 1851, “Hebe rejected.”

            In 1852, Mr. Marshall became a Royal Academician, and exhibited “The Hindoo {7} Girl” only.  Minor examples of his were, during this period and later, exhibited at the British Institution, including, in 1857, “Ariel” and “The Refuge.”  In the last-mentioned year the artist obtained the first prize of £700 for a design for the national monument of the Duke of Wellington.  The public commission for this work was afterwards given to Alfred Stevens.  1869 produced “The Venerable Bede translating St. John,” and “The Mother of Moses;” 1871, “A Christian Martyr,” and “A Fishing Girl;” 1872, “Briseis,” and “Ruth;” 1873, “Wilder’d Fancies,” and “Tali Players,” two figures, being an illustration of an immemorial game with knuckle-bones which was often represented in antique art, and is still played all over the world; 1875, “Estia,” “Margaret,” from Faust, “Nausicaa,” from the Odyssey, and “Convalescence;” 1876, “Pygmalion me fecit,” the statue awakening; 1877, “The Prodigal Son;” 1878, “Whispering Vows to Pan;” 1879, “Stepping Stones,” and “Hermia and Helena;” 1880, “Miranda;” 1881, “Noonday Idleness,” “The Last Day of Pompeii,” “Sabrina thrown into the Severn,” “The Prodigal Son” (this statue was purchased by the Academy with part of the Chantrey Fund), and “Mother and Child;” 1882, “Cinderella,” and “Œdipus at Colonus;” and 1883, “Thetis dipping Achilles into the Styx.”  Mr. Marshall’s intended contribution for the present year may be seen in the nude statue which in the photograph is extended behind his own seated figure.  The sculpture represents Psyche fainting, having indulged a forbidden curiosity.

            The sculptor’s house is a large, modern, and roomy one in that region which, since Chantrey and Westmacott made fortunes there, may be said to be consecrated to statuary, and where, having added studios and workshops to its domestic offices, he has resided more than thirty years.  The photograph shows Mr. Marshall’s inner studio, his sanctum, which is accessible by a long gallery filled with examples of art, and through an outer studio where new works are in progress.  Grouped with the master himself the reader may see casts from some of the above-named productions of his skill.  The hooded figure on our left is a sketch of the “Venerable Bede;” the nearly naked maidens seated in a group are the “Tali Players;” the large statue in a modern costume placed on a higher level and beyond the marble girls, is a cast of the statue of Crompton; the statuette beyond the swooning “Psyche” is Pygmalion’s mistress.  An erect draped figure on the shelf represents the “Mother of Moses.”  Near it, the plump young satyr drinking from a rhyton, is a cast from the figure called “The Last Drop,” which, having attracted the praise of Gibson, who said that had it been dug up in Italy he would have taken it for an antique, is now deposited in the Royal Academy as Mr. Marshall’s diploma work.

            A Royal Commissioner and Juror at the Exposition Universelle Internationale, Paris, 1878, to which the sculptor contributed the “Jouers de Tali” and “Nausica [sic],” Mr. Marshall has a Knight’s Cross of the Legion of Honour.






Frederick George Stephens (1828-1907), author and editor, WILLIAM CALDER MARSHALL, R.A., H.R.S.A.

Cite As

Frederick George Stephens (1828-1907), author and editor, “WILLIAM CALDER MARSHALL, R.A., H.R.S.A.,” Victorian Artists at Home, accessed April 2, 2023, https://artistsathome.emorydomains.org/items/show/32.

Item Relations

Item: W. C. MARSHALL, R.A. dcterms:relation This Item
Item: W. C. MARSHALL, R.A. dcterms:relation This Item