The Government Art Collection recognises its responsibility to artists, colleagues and all our audiences to represent the diversity of the UK and to embed anti-racist and equitable practices throughout our work. We are taking action to address inequality in the Collection and its interpretation.
This portrait medallion represents author, biographer and historian Thomas Carlyle (1795-1881). The original version was exhibited at the Royal Academy, London, in 1856 and is now in the Scottish National Portrait Gallery in Edinburgh. A bronze version, which is in the collection at Carlyle's House, in London, is probably the medallion Woolner exhibited at the Academy the following year.
While at Oxford in 1856, William Morris financed and published a short-lived but intellectually ambitious publication called ‘The Oxford and Cambridge Magazine, conducted by Members of the two Universities’. The only illustrations issued in connection with the magazine were two photographs of medallion portraits by Woolner; one depicting Carlyle and the other, the poet Alfred Tennyson. These illustrations were printed and sold separately.
Sculptor Thomas Woolner was born in Suffolk but later moved to London. From 12 he was apprenticed to painter Charles Behnes, followed by his brother, sculptor William Behnes. In 1842 he entered the Royal Academy Schools, where he met Rossetti. With Rossetti, Millais, Holman Hunt and others he formed the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood in 1848. He emigrated to Australia in 1852 to try gold prospecting, later working as a sculptor in Melbourne. After receiving no major commissions, he returned in 1854 and persuaded Tennyson to sit for him. He produced architectural work, public statues, church memorials and imaginative pieces in England and throughout the Empire. He was elected RA (1874) and appointed Professor of Sculpture (1877). He died at 66.
Thomas Carlyle (1795-1881) author, biographer, and historian
Plaster cast medallion
height: 23.00 cm, width: 23.00 cm, depth: 5.20 cm
Purchased from Jeremy Maas Gallery, December 1971
With Daniel Shackleton (fine art dealer) of Dundas Street, Edinburgh; from whom purchased by J. S. Maas & Co. Ltd., London, on 9 September 1971; from whom purchased by the Ministry of Works in December 1971
Necessary cookies are absolutely essential for the website to function properly. This category only includes cookies that ensures basic functionalities and security features of the website. These cookies do not store any personal information.
Any cookies that may not be particularly necessary for the website to function and is used specifically to collect user personal data via analytics, ads, other embedded contents are termed as non-necessary cookies. It is mandatory to procure user consent prior to running these cookies on your website.