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Sir Richard Westmacott, RA, Lectures

RA Collection: Archive

Archive context

Showing item 65 of 72 in this group

Reference code



Sir Richard Westmacott, RA, Lectures





Extent & medium

9 vols, 3 items

Previous reference codes


Historical Background

Sir Richard Westmacott, R.A. was for a generation the leading official sculptor operating in the British Empire. Although his renown did not extend to Europe, in Britain he was regarded as being among the best sculptors of the British school.

Westmacott came from an artistic family and his father, Richard Westmacott Snr., was also a sculptor. He received boyhood training as an ornamental woodcarver, and possibly some guidance from his father. On travelling to Italy in 1793 he studied at the Accademia di San Luca, winning "the Pope's medal" in 1795 for a terracotta relief. In 1796 he returned to England and swiftly built up a viable working studio. He first exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1797 and married the following year.

After a great deal of effort Westmacott achieved Associate status at the Academy in 1805, and was elected to the full membership in 1811. In 1816 he was among the artists called upon to testify as to the significance of the Elgin marbles.

Westmacott achieved great success in securing public commissions. His bronze Achilles in Hyde Park, the statue of the Duke of York on Carlton House Terrrace and the "Progress of Civilisation" on the pediment of the British Museum are among his most prominent works.

Westmacott held the post of Professor of Sculpture at the Academy from 1827 until his death. A Royal Academy Professor was expected to deliver six lectures annually to the students of the Royal Academy schools. Westmacott's lectures were never fully published. In a letter to Sir Henry Ellis, he expressed a "horror of appearing in print" .

Published source: Sir Richard Westmacott, Sculptor; Marie Busco, Cambridge 1994. ISBN 0 521 39065 6

Content Description

There are nine lectures in all. They comprise a general survey of the history of sculpture.


The manuscripts remained in the possession of relatives on the sculptor's death. There is no evidence that this set of lectures was used by Richard Westmacott, the Younger, R.A. when Professor of Scultpure at the Academy.

The manuscripts were subsequently acquired by Bernard Quaritch Ltd. for family descendants living in Canada.

Acquisition Details

The manuscripts were purchased for Royal Academy Archives in 1999 from Bernard Quaritch Ltd., Booksellers, with assistance from the V&A Purchase Grant Fund.


Westmacott numbered the series as a broad chronology, this arrangement has been preserved.



Repro Conditions

Royal Academy of Arts