James Butler studied at Maidstone School of Art from 1948 to 1950, St Martin’s School of Art from 1950 to 1952 and subsequently at the Royal College of Art, London. After two years of National Service in the Royal Corps of Signals, he spent the following ten years as a professional stone carver, working on architectural sculptures such as the Queen’s Beasts at Kew Gardens and restoration work on the Albert Memorial. From 1960 to 1975, he taught drawing and sculpture at the City and Guilds of London Art School.
Butler’s work was very much commission based, his first major assignment being a twice life size statue of President Kenyatta of Kenya for the city of Nairobi in 1973. Following this, he gave up teaching in order to work on numerous public commissions and works for private collections throughout the world, ranging from monumental pieces to small-scale sculptures of dancers, children and female nudes. He cited the works of Rodin, Dalou, Degas, Jagger and Manzù as sources of inspiration.
He was elected a Royal Academician in 1972, a Member of the Royal West of England Academy in 1980 and Fellow of the Royal Society of British Sculptors in 1981.
Born: 25 July 1931 in London
Died: 26 March 2022
Elected ARA: 24 April 1964
Elected RA: 15 June 1972
Elected Senior RA: 1 October 2006
Preferred media: Sculpture