Biography

The youngest son of the eminent architect James Wyatt, Matthew Cotes Wyatt (1777-1862) was born in London, attended Eton and the Royal Academy Schools, and started out as an artist, doing decorative work and remodelling, and painting portraits and historical subjects, before turning to sculpture. He designed the Nelson Monument in Liverpool, though the work of casting it was given to the more experienced Richard Westmacott Junior. Family connections had meant the early patronage of George III, and he made his first mark as a sculptor with the memorial to Princess Charlotte in St George's Chapel, Windsor, completed in 1826. His equestrian statue of the pigtailed George III at Cockspur Street, London, unveiled 1836, is generally considered his best work, while his huge equestrian statue of Wellington for the top of the Wellington Arch (completed 1843) was problematic from the beginning, because the commission was not won through competition (see Physick 1), and was almost universally slated as "poorly modelled" and over-sized (O'Donoghue). It was eventually removed to the military town of Aldershot. Nevertheless, his obituarist in the Art-Journal called him "one of our oldest and most eminent sculptors" (86), though much of the obituary is given over to an account of his illustrious family. Perhaps the last word on Wyatt should go to John Martin Robinson: "His designs represented a dramatic and full-blooded union of neo-classicism and baroque revival. He was more a theatrical designer than a sculptor in the conventional sense." — Jacqueline Banerjee

Works

Bibliography

Art-Journal. Vol. I (1862). Google Books. Web. 8 May 2012.

O'Donoghue, F. M. "Wyatt. Matthew Cotes (1777-1862)." Dictionary of National Biography. Vol. 62. Internet Archive. Web. 8 May 2012.

Physick, John Frederick. The Wellington Monument. Victoria and Albert Museum, London/HMSO, 1970. Print.

Robinson, John Martin (who revised F. M. O'Donoghue's original entry in the DNB) . "Wyatt. Matthew Cotes (1777-1862)." Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Online ed. Web. 8 May 2012.


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Last modified 8 May 2012