Henry Timbrell, Sculptor

(b. 1806, d. 1849)


From A Dictionary of Irish Artists 1913

Was born in Dublin in 1806, the eldest son of James Timbrell, chief foreman in the laboratory department at the Pigeon-House Fort, who married Susanna Shelling in 1805. He began his art studies under John Smyth (q.v.), afterwards, in 1825, entering the Royal Dublin Society's Schools, where he carried off prizes in several successive years. He exhibited works at the Royal Hibernian Academy in 1827, 1828 and 1829, six in all, among them being a "Figure of a Grecian Warrior," in 1827, and a bust of his master, John Smyth, in 1828. In 1830 he went to London and entered the studio of E. H. Bailey, R.A., as a pupil and assistant, and also became a student at the Royal Academy. In 1833 he sent his first contribution, "Phaeton," to the Academy exhibition, and in the following year a bas-relief of "Satan in search of the Earth." Both of these he also exhibited at the Society of British Artists in 1834 and 1835. With his group Mezentius tying the Living to the Dead" he gained the Academy gold medal in 1835, and exhibited the work the following year. He continued to exhibit at the Academy until 1842, his last contribution being "Psyche," which he also showed at the British Institution in 1843. In that year his "Hercules throwing Lycas into the Sea" obtained for him the travelling studentship, and he went to Rome. During his residence there he did a bas-relief for the Temple at Buckingham Palace, and a fine life-sized group, "Instruction," which was lost in the wreck of the vessel carrying it to England. He was engaged upon two statues for the new Houses of Parliament and a life-sized statue of the Queen, when he was seized with a severe attack of pleurisy which caused his death on the 10th April, 1849. His remains were followed to the grave by his brother artists in Rome: Gibson, Wyatt, Hogan and others.

Timbrell's early death terminated a career of much promise; had he lived he would probably have attained the highest position in his profession as a sculptor. Besides the works already mentioned he did a statue, "The Lamp of the Ganges," for Queen Victoria, on the suggestion of Gibson who knew his power and appreciated his genius. An engraving of it, by W. Roffe, appeared in the "Art Journal" in 1855.

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