Cunningham, Chantrey, and the British School of Sculpture - Tate Research Repository
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Book chapter

Cunningham, Chantrey, and the British School of Sculpture

2017

Abstract

When Allan Cunningham took up regular work as a pointing assistant and bookkeeper in the London workshop of Francis Chantrey in 1814, he had a curriculum vitae unlike other assistants. Among this output, Cunningham produced three texts that outline his conception of the characteristics and history of a native school of British sculpture. These were an 1821 article on Chantrey in Blackwood's Edinburgh Magazine, a Quarterly Review article of 1826 on Canova and the British School, and the compendium of biographies of sculptors that comprised vol. III of his Lives of the Most Eminent Painters, Sculptors and Architects (1830). This chapter seeks to understand Cunningham's conception of a national school of sculpture within the parameters of his broader literary oeuvre. Part puff, part literary theory, part polemic and part insider's account, they occupy a unique place between a strand of peasant poetry, romantic rhetorical theory, oral and documentary history and artistic craftsmanship.

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