Queen Victoria is depicted both truthfully and with empathy in this plaster bust by sculptor Edward Onslow Ford. Her eyes are cast down, her eyebrows raised and the chain around her bare neck disappears beneath her dress, where her personal locket is concealed.
The original version of this late work made in 1899 by the same sculptor is in the Royal Collection. It was the last bust of Queen Victoria produced during her lifetime. The bust was made as a study for Ford’s statue of Victoria at Piccadilly in Manchester, of 1901. The Queen was so pleased with the bust that she commissioned several replicas.
Edward Onslow Ford was born in Islington; the son of a businessman. After his father’s death in 1864, he travelled to Antwerp with his mother and studied painting (c.1870-¬71). He later studied sculpture in Munich (c.1871-74) under Michael Wagmüller, returning to London in c.1874 to specialise in portrait sculpture. His first public commission was a statue of Sir Rowland Hill (1881). His studio on The Avenue, Fulham Road, neighboured Alfred Gilbert’s. Ford’s work often crosses the boundary between sculpture and metalwork and includes mixed media pieces. His masterpiece is considered to be a memorial to ‘Percy Bysshe Shelley’ (c.1892; University College, Oxford). He died aged 49, at his home in St John’s Wood, possibly the result of suicide.
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