Sculpture Journal

Two sculptor-geologists and the perception of marble in nineteenth-century Britain: Sir Francis Chantrey and William Brindley

Sculpture Journal (2021), 30, (2), 227–242.

Abstract

This article focuses on two British sculptors who straddled the worlds of practical geology and sculpture in the nineteenth century, and in particular how their work affected the scientific and popular understanding of marble. Francis Chantrey and William Brindley were both long-term members of the Geological Society of London and contributed practical understanding of stone to the development of the geological discourse on white and coloured decorative marbles. This article looks at Chantrey’s use of fossiliferous British ‘marbles’ and his role in the growing comprehension of Carrara marble as a metamorphosed limestone in the 1830s. The second part of the article deals with William Brindley’s discovery and popularization of coloured marbles from ancient quarries around the world, and the role of these stones in contemporary imperialist discourse.

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Author details

Sullivan, M. G.