Mary Thornycroft

"[Photograph]: Carte-de-visite, albumen print by Maull & Co., London, c. 1864. The photographer thought it appropriate to position a bust of Apollo close to the sculptress. Maas collection.

Mary Thornycroft was the daughter of the sculptor John Francis. In 1840 she married another sculptor, Thomas Thornycroft. She was a great favourite of Queen Victoria, and was much patronized by the royal family. But, according to Jeremy Maas, her statue of Prince Alfred caused much offence to a teetotaller who objected strongly to his holding a bunch of grapes (!).

During the latter part of her life, Mary Thornycroft lived in Melbury Road, and was a prominent member of the Holland Park Circle. The Survey of London explains that a lease was granted to her husband in 1876 to build 2 and 4 Melbury Road although these were largely to the design of his son Hamo, in conjunction with his architect J Belcher. Extra studios at the rear, for other artistic members of the family, were added piecemeal later. Caroline Dakers has much to say on the gifted Thornycroft family members and their ménage.

F. G Stephens wrote warmly of the woman sculptor, whose features he decribed in the Magazine of Art (1895) as "handsome, cultured, and highly intelligent"; he found her "gentle, yet with latent courage in righteousness...."

Works illustrated on this site

Works (with no images on this site)


British Sculpture 1850-1914. A loan exhibition of sculpture and medals sponsored by The Victorian Society. London: Fine Art Society, 1968.

The Cradle from the sculpture” by Mrs Thornycroft.“ Art-Journal. (1860): 370.

Dakers, Caroline. The Holland Park Circle, Artists and Victorian Society. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1999.

The Diary of Alfred Domett, 1872-1885. Ed. E. A. Horsman. London: Geoffrey Cumberledge/Oxford University Peress, 1953.

Mass, Jeremy. The Victorian Art World in Photographs. London: Barrie & Jenkins, 1984. P. 212.

Last modified 16 February 2020