From A Dictionary of Irish Artists 1913
Was born in Belfast on 12th August, 1799, the son of a tradesman. While still in infancy his father died, and in 1807 he was sent to a school kept by an engraver named Gordon. In 1811 he accompanied his mother to England where she had relations, and continued his schooling under a clergyman in Hampshire. In 1813 he was apprenticed to a coach-maker in London; but after four and a half years his master became bankrupt and he was thrown on his own resources. Happening to lodge in the house of P. F. Chenu, a sculptor and modeller, at 23 Charles Street, Middlesex Hospital, he began to sketch from casts, and applied himself to drawing and modelling. He worked diligently and at length ventured upon a small figure of "Venus holding a mirror," after Donatello, in which he succeeded so well that it was purchased by Chenu. Hearing of a proposed memorial to Major Cartwright, he submitted a design, but was not successful in having it carried out. In 1822 he made his first appearance in the Royal Academy, with a bust. He further exhibited in 1826 and each year until 1830, when he entered the Royal Academy Schools as a student. In 1832 he resumed exhibiting and secured a recognized reputation as a sculptor.
For some time portrait busts formed the main output of his studio; but he gradually increased the number of his poetical and fancy figures and groups. The first works of this kind were a group from Moore's "Loves of the Angels," R.A., 1827, bought by George Davison, of Belfast; and "Cephalus and Procris," executed in marble for E. S. Cooper, of Markree, Co. Sligo. He found a friend and patron in T. Wentworth Beaumont, M.P., for whom he executed several commissions, such as a "Girl Reading," exhibited in 1838; a "Girl going to Bathe," in 1841; and "Cupid drawing an arrow," in 1842. These works attracted attention and brought him prominently into notice. He was elected an Associate of the Royal Academy in 1841, and, through the kindness of his friend Beaumont, was enabled to spend eight months in Rome. In 1846 he was elected a Member of the Academy. He was soon at the full tide of his success and found ample employment, not only in portrait busts, but in imaginative works and public statues. In 1846 he executed the statue of Lord Exmouth, for Greenwich Hospital; in 1849 "Eve," and in 1850 "Psyche," two of his finest works; in 1850 he exhibited his group of "Virginius and his daughter"; in 1856 the model for his "Statue of the Earl of Belfast"; in 1857 the model for the "Statue of the Earl of Chatham," and in 1858 the model for the "Statue of Lord Fitzgibbon." His last important work was the emblematic group of "Europe," for the Albert Memorial in Kensington Gardens. Besides contributing to the Royal Academy he exhibited at the British Institution and the Society of British Artists, and also between 1843 and 1847 in the Royal Hibernian Academy. Through failing health he retired from his profession and resigned his Membership of the Academy in 1870. He died in London on 9th December, 1870.
MacDowell's works are graceful and elegant in design, and rank among the best works of his time in England; but, in common with the sculpture of the period, are conventional in modelling and lack vitality, imitations of the classic style based on that of Canova. His works include:
J. Andrews. Posthumous bust. R.A., 1822.
J. Barneby, M.P. Posthumous bust. R.A., 1848.
T. Wentworth Beaumont, M.P. Bust. R.A., 1848.
Miles Thomas, 8th Lord Beaumont. Bust. R.A., 1855.
Frederick Richard, Earl of Belfast. Bronze statue. [Free Library, Belfast.] Erected by public subscription and unveiled by the Earl of Carlisle, Lord Lieutenant, in November, 1855. It originally stood in front of the Royal Academical Institute, but about 1875 was removed to the Town Hall, and is now in the Free Library. Model in R.A., 1856. Engraved by R. A. Artlett in "Art Journal," 1856.
Frederick Richard, Earl of Belfast, and his mother Harriet Anne, Marchioness of Donegal. Marble monument. [Memorial Chapel, Belfast Castle.]
Frederick Richard, Earl of Belfast. Posthumous bust in marble. R.A., 1857.
Percy Boyd. Bust. R.A., 1852.
Thomas Campbell, poet. Bust. R.A., 1826.
Sir James Carnac, Governor of Bombay. Bust. R.A., 1844.
Edmund Cartwright. Bust. R.A., 1826.
Major Cartwright. Design for a monument. R.A., 1826.
G. Cartwright, R.N. Bust. R.A., 1835.
William Pitt, Earl of Chatham. Statue. [St. Stephen's Hall, Westminster Palace.] Model in R.A., 1857. Engraved by W. H. Mote in "Art Journal," 1858.
Rev. S. Cook. Bust. R.A., 1840.
Rev. Dr. Cooke, of Belfast. Bust. R.A., 1838.
T. B. Crompton, of Farnworth, Lancs. Posthumous bust. R.A., 1860.
Thomas Cubitt. Bust. R.A., 1856.
William Cubitt, M.P., Lord Mayor of London. Bust. R.A., 1861.
Andrew Cuthell. Bust. R.A., 1860.
Mrs. Davenport. Bust. R.A., 1837.
Isabella Dawson, afterwards Mrs. Cane. Bust. [Colonel Cane, St. Wolstan's, Celbridge.]
Frederick T., 1st Marquess of Dufferin. Bust. R.A., 1858.
Archibald William, Earl of Eglinton and Winton. Bronze statue. [St. Stephen's Green, Dublin.] Erected in 1866.
Admiral Edward, Lord Exmouth. Statue. [Greenwich Hospital.] R.A., 1846.
Viscount Fitzgibbon, 8th Hussars. Bronze statue. [Sarsfield Bridge, Limerick.] Erected to his memory and that of his companions in arms, natives of the county and city of Limerick, who fell at Balaclava, R.A., 1858. Engraved by W. H. Mote in "Art Journal," 1858.
R. W. Hall. Posthumus bust. R.A., 1836. James Hartley. Bust. R.A., 1845.
Mrs. Hartley. Bust. R.A., 1846.
H. Hughes. Bust. R.A., 1866.
Mrs. Walter Hughes. Bust. R.A., 1870.
Mr. Ismay, of Glasgow. Bust. R.A., 1826.
Sir Joshua Jebb. Posthumous bust. R.A., 1865. [Victoria and Albert Museum.]
George M. Jones, surgeon to the Jersey Hospital. Bust. R.A., 1849.
J. Sheridan Knowles. Bust. Soc. B.A., 1833.
Master Liscombe. Posthumous bust. R.A., 1844.
Jeremiah Lodge. Bust. R.A., 1863.
R. Lodge. Bust. R.A., 1868.
J. Morice. Bust. R.A., 1828.
Sir Michael O'Loghlen, Master of the Rolls. Statue. [ Four Courts, Dublin.]
John Pender. Bust. R.A., 1864.
Children of John Pender. R.A., 1866.
Jonathan Pereira, physician to the London Hospital. Posthumous bust. R.A., 1854.
William Pitt. Statue. [St. Stephen's Hall, Westminster.]
William, Lord Plunket. Statue. [Four Courts, Dublin.] Unveiled in 1884.
Master Rankin. Bust. RA., 1829 and 1830.
Colonel Rankin. Posthumous bust. R.A., 1832.
W. J. Rideout of Farnworth, near Bolton. Bust. R.A., 1861.
G. Rudall. Bust. R.A., 1844.
Mrs. J. E., afterwards Lady, Tennent. Two busts. R.A., 1838.
Mrs. Tennent and children. Bas-relief in wax. [Mrs. Marshall, Belfast.]
J. M. W. Turner. Statue. [St. Paul's Cathedral.]
William, Earl of Warren. Bronze statue. [Houses of Parliament, Westminster.] Model in R.A., 1850.
James Whiteside, M.P., afterwards Chief Justice of the Queen's Bench, Ireland. Bust. R.A., 1861.
Group, from Morris's "Loves of the Angels." R.A., 1827. Bought by George Davison, Belfast.
Bacchus. R.A., 1829.
Procris and Cephalus. Group in Marble. [Captain Cooper, Markree Castle, Co. Sligo.] Soc. B.A., 1834. Executed for E. S. Cooper.
A Girl Reading. Model in R.A., 1837. Marble, 1838. R.H.A., 1843. Executed for T. Wentworth Beaumont, M.P.
A Girl Reading. Marble. R.A., 1849.
A Nymph. [Royal Academy, London.] The sculptor's diploma work.
A Girl going to Bathe. Model in R.A., 1840. Marble, 1841. R.H.A., 1844. Executed for T. Wentworth Beaumont, M.P.
Prayer. R.A., 1842.
Love Triumphant. Marble group. R.A., 1844. Engraved by W. Roffe in "Art Journal," 1850.
A Guitar Player. R.H.A., 1843.
Cupid. Marble statue, R.A., 1845.
Virginius and his daughter. Model in R.A., 1847. Marble, 1850. Engraved by W. Roffe, in "Art Journal," 1853.
Early Sorrow. Marble statue. R.A., 1847. R.H.A., 1847. Engraved by W. Roffe in "Art Journal," 1851.
Cupid and Psyche. Marble bas-relief. R.A., 1849.
Eve. Model in R.A., 1849. Marble, B.I., 1851. [Victoria and Albert Museum.]
Eve. R.A., 1865.
Psyche. Model in R.A., 1850; marble, 1851.
The Slumbering Student. R.A., 1851.
Love in Idleness. Model in R.A., 1852.
The Day-Dream, Model in R.A., 1853; marble, 1858. Engraved by R. A. Artlett in "Art Journal," 1855.
The Young Mother. R.A., 1867.
Cuvier/Leibnitz/Linnaeus. Statues. [Offices of Civil Service Commission, Burlington Gardens.]
Europe. Symbolic Group. [Albert Memorial, Kensington Gardens.] Engraved by W. Roffe in "Art Journal," 1871.
Leah. [Egyptian Hall, Mansion House, London.]
Truelove's Journal: A Bookshop Novella
"Beautiful, different and touching. Short, sweet and lovely. Made me cry. You sense that this is a true story veiled in the guise of fiction as are all the best stories."
Although ostensibly set in England, this story was penned by an Irish bookseller under the pseudonym of Ralph St John Featherstonehaugh.
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