Although Thomas de Grey, sixth Baron Walsingham (1843-1919) bears a striking resemblance to the sitter, as yet no evidence has been found to suggest that Edgar Boehm ever sculpted his portrait. Walsingham was a politician, entomologist and sportsman and lived for a time at No.1 Carlton Gardens, where this work was discovered. When found, the nose of the sculpture was missing. It has been reconstructed during conservation, so undoubtedly the appearance of the sitter is now somewhat altered. In 1883, Boehm sculpted a marble statue of Charles Darwin seated in an identical chair to that seen in this statuette. This work is clearly not Darwin, but may have been made at a similar date.
Joseph Edgar Boehm was born in Vienna; the son of a medallist, engraver and director of the imperial mint. He attended Leigh’s Art Academy, London (1848-51), before returning to Vienna to study medal design and modelling. From 1859 he lived in Paris. In 1862 he moved to London, eventually settling at The Avenue, Fulham Road, where studio assistants included Gilbert and Drury. His works are mostly marble busts, but he also produced church monuments and equestrian statuettes. He received over 40 royal commissions, taught Princess Louise, was the Queen’s Sculptor-in-Ordinary from 1880 and was made a baronet in 1889. He became a Royal Academician in 1881. Boehm died aged 56. Princess Louise’s presence at his death provoked considerable gossip.
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