William James O'Doherty, Sculptor

(b.1835, d. 1868)


From A Dictionary of Irish Artists 1913

Was born in Dublin in 1835 and studied in the Royal Dublin Society's Modelling School; at first, from 1848, under Constantine Panormo, and after the death of the latter in 1852, under J. Kirk, who greatly appreciated his talents. He carried off several prizes for modelling, including a bronze medal in 1853 for "Night," after Thorwaldsen, and a "Boy and Bird," which he sent to the Dublin Exhibition of 1853. John E. Jones, the sculptor, who was then visiting Dublin, was attracted by O'Doherty's work and advised him to go to London where he would have a wider field for his talents. Accordingly he left Dublin the following year. In 1857 he made his first appearance at the Royal Academy, where he exhibited a model in plaster of "Gondoline," a subject taken from Kirke White's poems. This he afterwards executed in marble for R. C. L. Bevan, the banker. In 1860 he exhibited his "Erin," afterwards executed in marble for the Marquess of Downshire who was his friend and patron. An engraving of this work by T. W. Knight is in the "Art Journal," 1861.

In 1862 he sent to the Academy a statuette of "Alethe." In this year his name first appears as "O'Doherty" instead of "Doherty," the name he had hitherto borne both as a student in Dublin and as an exhibitor. In the two following years his contributions were busts of "Viscountess Guillamore," "Mrs. Coleman" and "Mrs. Shirley Brooks." A bust of "Sir Robert Bateson" is in the possession of Lord Deramore, and he also did a statue of Lord Downshire. In 1864 O'Doherty went to Rome, partly for the purpose of study and partly to carry out a commission from the Marquess of Downshire for a group entitled "The Martyr." He left England full of hope for the future, but of the few remaining years of his life nothing is known. He found his way to Berlin and there ended his short career in the hospital of La Charité in February, 1868. "Had he lived," says a writer in the "Art Journal" for 1868, "till practice had matured his judgment and time had toned down his lofty aspirations, for he soared higher than perhaps his talents legitimately would entitle him, there is little doubt but that his name would have been enrolled among those many artists of renown to whom Ireland has given birth."

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