John Charles Felix Rossi (1762-1839)

Music, Leicester, by J. C. F. Rossi and J. Bingham.

The sculptor J. C. F. Rossi was born in Nottingham, his father being an Italian doctor. He studied sculpture under Locatelli, worked at the Derby China works, briefly for Vulliamy, then for the Coade manufactury. In 1781 he became a student at the Royal Academy Schools, exhibiting there for the first time in the following year, and on winning a travelling scholarship, spent three years in Rome. After his return to London, he formed a partnership with a mason-sculptor called J. Bingley, and drawing on his early training in terra cotta, made a variety of terra cotta and stone statues (much later he worked on terra cotta with J. H. Bubb). He flourished in the 1790s, winning commissions for architectural sculpture on important buildings, and designing four monuments in St Paul's. He was elected ARA in 1798, and RA in 1802. Over the course of a long working career, he managed to produce 16 offspring, by two wives, and of these three at least became sculptors – Henry Rossi in London, Frederick Rossi, and Charles Rossi, who became a monumental mason and went to live in Barbados.

Rossi’s typical style in his monuments and elsewhere, is draped or semi-draped classical figures, slender and refined looking with elegant long necks, somewhat recalling society pictures by Sir Thomas Lawrence. There is a nice pair in this vein on the front of the Royal Opera House, London, depicting Thalia and Melpomene. Another pair are in Leicester – Music and Dance on the front of the City Rooms (see the walk there). His St Paul's monuments are Cornwallis, Faulkner, Moss and Riou, and Rodney, all active in the war against Napoleon. His work also includes reproductions of classical works, including four caryatids for St Pancras Church on Marylebone Road.

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