[Domett, the original of Waring in Browning's poem, recorded a visit to the sculptor's study on 29 October 1873.]
[Foley] was very kind and affable and shewed us through his studio. The model of the Statue of Prince Albert for The Hyde Park monument was there. He says when the Queen came to see it, she liked the expression of the face so much that she desired it might not even be touched by him any further, and so, though he had not considered it quite finished he had complied with her request and left it as it was. The statue, to be in bronze gilt, had been so long in execution, because in the hurry to get it done, the molten metal had been poured into the mould before the latter was thoroughly dry, so that the generated steam had exploded and destroyed it. Thus to save a week, they had lost 6 months at least for the extra work required to make a second mould. Speaking of his most splendid, lifelike and animated equestrian statue of Outram (the General checking his horse at full gallop and throwing him back on his haunches as he turns to look at something in another part of the supposed battlefield), he said the most difficult part of his work was to get a sight of a horse in that unusual position to study from.
The model of the Dublin statue of Grattan, throwing up his outstretched arms while passionately haranguing was there: and a model of one of Dan O'Connell upon which he was then at work. When I said something in admiration of his exquisite group of Ino and the Infant Bacchus, he said it was done when he was 22 years old!
He shewed us a figure he was engaged upon, the order for which seemed like a recurrence on the part of one at least of the patrons of sculpture to a practise of the old Athenians in the palmy days of Greek Art. It was a perfectly nude statue of a young gentleman named Lawes, who had rowed as one of the Cambridge eight in a late University Boatrace on the Thames, to be executed for the youth's mother, and to be strictly a full-length portrait. He said the form was nearly perfect and like a Greek athlete. To me it seemed rather too narrow in the chest and small in the shoulder muscles, in proportion to the rest of the body, to realise completely one of those Greek ideals of that character.
Foley had been a long time detained from work by an illness originating in a cold caught (he said) from exposure to a cold wind while heated and hard at work at the Albert Monument.
Foley is not what is commonly called very intellectual looking. He has a highcoloured reddish face, with black straight hair — a long nose and receding forehead. But this last effect may be produced by the great prominence of the skull over the eyes, along the eyebrows — where his head is also sufficiently wide. So that, phrenologically considered, it may after all be a very powerful head; the perceptive organs being extremely well developed, rather than those called reflective the contrary; while the temperament, in these considerations of equal, if not greater importance, as manifested by the high color, and straight shining black hair, is probably indicative of high energies and determined perseverance. [112-13]
The Diary of Alfred Domett, 1872-1885. Ed. E. A. Horsman. London: Geoffrey Cumberledge/Oxford University Peress, 1953.
Last modified 3 December 2010