Plans for Sir Hamo’s house, 1881
Name:Sir Hamo Thornycroft
Dates:1850 - 1925
Address: 2a Melbury Road, W14
Dates at address:1877 - 1925
Hamo Thornycroft came from a family of famous sculptors, including grandfather John Francis and mother and father Thomas and Mary Thornycroft. Despite this they were not wealthy and his father was strongly against him joining the family trade. Hamo’s passion won through and he was trained, first at home and then by Frederick Leighton at the Royal Academy Schools.
A skilled sculptor, he came to prominence by merging Victorian classicism with realism, helping create the New Sculpture movement. Considered England’s leading sculptor for many years, he created several famous works. Some of his more familiar include the statues of Oliver Cromwell at Westminster, Dean Collet at St Paul’s School for Boys and Gladstone at the Aldwych Theatre. But in the 1890s he began to lose out to the very movement he gave birth to and Gilbert and Frampton took over as the faces of New Sculpture. Thornycroft continued to produce sculptures until the war and was honoured many times after that, but he never again regained his early pre-eminence.
Thornycroft’s home in Melbury Road, which he designed, was a haven to two things, art and animals. The house was filled with his family’s works while the garden was filled with birds, which Thornycroft fed religiously, and his mischievous cat, Corky. A famous thief, Corky’s loot included a partridge from Marcus Stone and pigeons from Val Prinsep. It was also Thornycroft’s studio where he constructed many of his major works.
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