Papworth family – Thos. Papworth, J.B Papworth, E.G. Papworth Sr and Jr

Pilgrim burdened, from the Bunyan tomb, by E. G. Papworth Sr.

The Papworth family numbered three sculptors and an architect among its members. Thomas Papworth (1773-1814) trained as a plasterer under his father, and exhibited a few busts at the Royal Academy around the beginning of the 19th century. His brother was the architect, John Buonarotti Papworth (1775-1847) a notable Regency architect particularly in the town of Cheltenham, where he was responsible, for example, for Lansdown Terrace among other classical Greek works. Thomas Papworth's son, Edgar G. Papworth Sr (1809-1866), became a pupil of E. H. Baily, before attending the Royal Academy Schools from 1826. There, he won various awards, culminating in a travelling scholarship enabling him to spend some three years in Rome. Back in England, he had a moderately successful career, the high points being exhibiting work at the Great Exhibition, and in 1857 gaining 3rd prize in the competition for the Wellington Monument for St Paul's, won, of course, by Alfred Stevens. He is best known for his monument to Bunyan, in Bunhill Fields, North London, and also produced a few other monuments, busts, and ideal figures. In the Cecil Higgins Art Gallery in Bedford is a panel by him showing Richard II in a processional scene, quite lively, and a sense of movement in his figures is characteristic.

Papworth Senior’s wife was Caroline Baily, daughter of his master E. H. Baily, and their son, Edgar George Papworth Junior (b. 1832), also became a sculptor. He also studied at the Academy Schools, from 1848, and exhibited there from the early 1850s through to the 1880s. Like his father, he made portrait busts, and some ideal figures, most notably a rather oversweet Startled Nymph of 1856. I think the bust of Cobden in Manchester Town Hall is by the younger rather than the older Papworth. However, their portraiture seems to have been rather similar to one another, with a touch of humour, even jollity, detracting somewhat from the gravitas of the works.

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