Left: Engraving from the Art Journal. Right: Richard Baxter installed in Kidderminster. [Click on images to enlarge them.]
Baxter was a Puritan preacher, hymn-writer and theologian. He made his reputation by his ministry at Kidderminster from 1641 to 1660. After the Restoration he refused appointment as Bishop of Hereford and became an influential leader of the Nonconformists.
In 1873 the citizens of Kidderminster decided to erect a marble statue in memory of Baxter and invited two sculptors, Frank Williamson and Thomas Brock, to submit designs. Brock’s model was chosen by a vote of twenty to two and the statue was unveiled by Mrs. Philpott, wife of the Bishop of Worcester, on 28 July 1875 in the town centre. It was later moved to a site in front of Baxter’s former church.
Brock exhibited the full-size plaster model of the statue at the Royal Academy in 1876. The Saturday Review commented: ‘The style may be said to be ‘non-conformist’, as is the subject; in its vehemence it does not conform to established law and order. But the actions arrests attention; one hand rests on the Bible, the other is raised, as sometimes in pictures of St John the Baptist “Repent ye, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand”.
This was Brock’s first public statue and it was encouraging for the young sculptor that his efforts to produce a realistic likeness, rather than a bland ideal portrait, had been recognised.
Photograph by the author. You may use this image without prior permission for any scholarly or educational purpose as long as you (1) credit the photographer and (2) link your document to this URL in a web document or cite the Victorian Web in a print one.
Brock, Frederick. Thomas Brock, Forgotten Sculptor of the Victoria Memorial. Authorhouse 2012. pp. 24-27.
Sankey, John. Thomas Brock and the Critics – an examination of Brock’s place in the New Sculpture movement. Leeds University 2002 (pp. 7174-); online at email@example.com.
Last modified 27 February 2016