Patrick Macdowell, the sculptor, was the son of a Belfast tradesman, who found his first interest in art from his schoolteacher, an engraver. The family moved to England, and Macdowell was first apprenticed to a coachmaker, and then found his metier when he lodged in the house of P. Chenu, a French sculptor then resident in London. He exhibited works at the Royal Academy from 1822, and became a student at the RA schools in 1830. After some early success with portrait busts, he also produced some ideal works, early works including a Girl Reading exhibited in 1837, and a Girl Going to Bathe in 1840.
Macdowell was elected ARA in 1841, and RA in 1846. Among his notable successes were exhibits at the Great Exhibition of 1851, and being selected to create Europe, one of the four great groups around the Albert Memorial.
Europe, for the Albert Memorial.
As well as the works already mentioned, among Macdowell's portrait statues are Viscount Exmoutn in the National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, William Pitt and the Earl of Chatham for Westminster Palace, Turner for St Paul's, Cuvier and Linnaeus for the rear of the Royal Academy's home in Burlington House, and Viscount Fitzgibbon for Limerick. Macdowell's ideal girls tend to the slightly oversweet, and as well as the Girl Reading and Girl Going to Bathe, we may mention Early Sorrow and Daydream, and Leah in Mansion House, probably the best of them. Miniatures of some of these latter works were reproduced in Parian.
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