The life and work of Sir Joseph Edgar Boehm

Stocker, Mark Andrew

February 1986

Thesis or dissertation

© 1986 Mark Andrew Stocker. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced without the written permission of the copyright holder.

Sir Joseph Edgar Boehm (1834-90) was, in his own time, the most popular, prolific and honoured sculptor of nineteenth-century England. This thesis aims to salvage Boehm's life and work from oblivion and to assess his achievements by complementing art history with art criticism.

Boehm was Hungarian by parentage and Austrian by birth but English by adoption. His father, J. D. Bohm, was director of the Imperial Mint at Vienna and a noted art collector. The younger Boehm visited London, Italy and Paris before settling permanently in England in 1862. Chapter 1 outlines Boehm's background, summarises his career and examines his character. Chapter 2 examines his theories on portraiture - his main artistic field - and matches examples of his busts and statuettes with these theories. Chapter 3 examines Boehm's status as the favourite sculptor of the Royal Family, his works commissioned by Queen Victoria and his portrait statues of her and other royalty. Chapter 4 examines Boehm's other portrait statues, with emphasis on his best documented works such as the monuments to Sir Francis Drake and the Duke of Wellington. Chapter 5 does the same for his church monuments. Chapter 6 examines Boehm's friendship with Thomas Carlyle and his portrait statue of the latter, commonly regarded as being his greatest work. Chapter 7 examines Boehm's effigies for the Jubilee coinage and medals of 1887 and explains the artistic failure of the coinage. Chapter 8 examines Boehm's ideal and animal sculptures and explains why he was not more prolific in these areas. The appendices include a catalogue of Boehm's recorded works and transcripts both of his Royal Academy lectures of 1882 and of the article in the Magazine of Art discussing his theories on portraiture.

Department of the History of Art, The University of Hull
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