John Henry Foley - Encyclopedia

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JOHN HENRY FOLEY (1818-1874), Irish sculptor, was born at Dublin on the 24th of May 1818. At thirteen he began to study drawing and modelling at the schools of the Royal Dublin Society, where he took several first-class prizes. In 1835 he was admitted a student in the schools of the Royal Academy, London. He first appeared as an exhibitor in 1839 with his " Death of Abel and Innocence." " Ino and Bacchus," exhibited in 1840, gave him immediate reputation, and the work itself was afterwards commissioned to be done in marble for the earl of Ellesmere. " Lear and Cordelia " and " Death of Lear " were exhibited in 1841. " Venus rescuing Aeneas " and " The Houseless Wanderer " in 1842, " Prospero and Miranda " in 1843. In 1844 Foley sent to the exhibition at Westminster Hall his Youth at a Stream," and was, with Calder Marshall and John Bell, chosen by the commissioners to do work in sculpture for the decoration of the Houses of Parliament. Statues of John Hampden and Selden were executed for this purpose, and received liberal praise for the propriety, dignity and proportion of their treatment. Commissions of all kinds now began to come rapidly. Fanciful works, busts, bas-reliefs, tablets and monumental statues were in great numbers undertaken and executed by him with a steady equality of worthy treatment. In 1849 he was made an associate and in 1858 a member of the Royal Academy. Among his numerous works the following may be noticed, besides those mentioned above: - " The Mother "; " Egeria," for the Mansion House; " The Elder Brother in Comus," his diploma work; " The Muse of Painting," the monument of James Ward, R.A.; " Caractacus," for the Mansion House; " Helen Faucit"; " Goldsmith " and " Burke," for Trinity College, Dublin; " Faraday "; " Reynolds "; " Barry," for Westminster Palace Yard; " John Stuart Mill," for the Thames embankment; " O'Connell " and " Gough," for Dublin; " Clyde," for Glasgow; " Clive," for Shrewsbury; " Hardinge," " Canning " and " Outram," for Calcutta; " Hon. James Stewart," for Ceylon; the symbolical group " Asia," as well as the statue of the prince himself, for the Albert Memorial in Hyde Park; and " Stonewall Jackson," in Richmond, Va. The statue of Sir James Outram is probably his masterpiece. Foley's early fanciful works have some charming qualities; but he will probably always be best remembered for the workmanlike and manly style of his monumental portraits. He died at Hampstead on the 27th of August 1874, and on the 4th of September was buried in St Paul's cathedral. He left his models to the Royal Dublin Society, his early school, and a great part of his property to the Artists' Benevolent Fund.

See W. Cosmo Monkhouse, The Works of J. H. Foley (1875).

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