Benjamin Edward Spence (1822-1866)

The sculptor BE Spence was a native of Liverpool. He achieved early success with a bust of Roscoe, when aged only 16. He went to Rome, where he became an assistant to John Gibson, then studied under R. T. Wyatt. He settled in Rome, visiting England once a year and exhibiting at the Royal Academy from time to time.

Spence was best known for a series of statues of rather sweet girls, in white marble, all rather similar, typically with short hair and round faces in the style of the first part of the 19th century, head inclined demurely. Generally nicely draped, or semi-draped, in a figure-hugging classical manner. Several of his works were made in several versions, including maquette scale. His best known work is Highland Mary (after a romantic poem by Burns), which may be seen in the Palm House, Sefton Park, Liverpool, along with The Angelís Whisper. A second version of Highland Mary is in the Walker Art Gallery, together with a charming Psyche at the Well, seminude, with little wings. A rare male statue by Spence, also in Liverpool, is that of Jonathan Brooks, Archdeacon of Liverpool, in St Georgeís Hall. Further statues by Spence were on the exterior of the Picton Library, Liverpool, but have been removed. Copies of some of his works are in the collection of University College London. In Leeds is a small monument by him, a wall plaque with a small profile of James Marshall (d. 1855), in the Parish Church.

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