John Ternouth (1796-1848)

John Ternouth, whose "immediate ancestors were Plymouth stonemasons," was born in Hampshire and came to London in about 1810, possibly as an apprentice, entering the Royal Academy Schools in 1820, winning a silver medal there, and going on to become a pupil of Sir Francis Chantrey. "He was a regular exhibitor at the RA from 1819 onwards, showing principally portrait busts. He also sent works to the British Institution in 1825 and to the Society of British Artists' exhibitions at the Suffolk Street galleries between 1825 and 1838" ("Details of Sculptor").

Ternouth achieved growing critical recognition, for example for his portrait busts of local dignitaries in Essex: on 23 June 1832 it was reported in the local newspaper there that he had given "universal satisfaction" with his likenesses. No surprise, then, that he was recommended by Edward Blore for the task of overseeing the monuments of Westminster Abbey, in which connection too he is described, rather less enthusiastically however, as a "competent sculptor" (Tatton-Brown and Mortimer 296). More interesting is the fact that "Blore also employed him at Buckingham Palace, where he carved figures of St George and Britannia for the East front" ("Details of Sculptor").

Ternmouth's best-known work, by far, is his bronze relief panel depicting The Battle of Copenhagen at the base of Nelson’s Column in Trafalgar Square (94). As he wrote to the Times on 7 November 1846, contradicting rumours circulating about his death, he was commissioned for this by "Her Majesty's Hon. Commissioners of Woods, &c." (5). The cast was complete by June 1848, and Prince Albert came to look at it in his studio on 1 July 1848, something reported in the Court Circular a couple of days later. The installation was a big event. The Morning Post reported that "the artist has truthfully caught up the spirit that characterised this important event," finding Ternouth's design "highly meritorious," and adding that "many hundred persons inspected the interesting and national work" (5). Sadly, Ternouth himself was not present. He had died of typhoid in late 1848, aged 52, before the work was installed, leaving a large family. He was buried in Kensal Green cemetery. — Jacqueline Banerjee


Funerary monuments


"Details of Sculptor." A Biographical Dictionary of Sculptors in Britain, 1660-1851 (The Henry Moore Foundation). Web. 9 May 2015.

"Court Circular." Times. 3 July 1848: 4. The Times Digital Archive. Web. 9 May 2015.

"Raising of the Third Basso-Relievo on the Nelson Column." Morning Post. 16 November 1850: 5. 19c. British Library Newspapers: Part II. Web. 9 May 2015.

Tatton-Brown, Tim, and Richard Mortimer. Westminster Abbey: The Lady Chapel of Henry VII. Woodbridge: Boydell, 2003.

Ternouth, John. "Nelson Column." Times. 7 November 1846: 5. The Times Digital Archive. Web. 9 May 2015.

"Tribute to the Memory of Mr Bramston." The Essex Standard, and Colchester and County Advertiser (Colchester, England). 23 June 1832; Issue 77. 19th Century British Library Newspapers: Part II. Web. 9 May 2015.

Created 9 May 2015