Marshall Wood's father was engaged in smallware manufacturing in Manchester. After the business broke up, he brought his family to London, where he was "connected with the Wood Carving Company" (Nicholson and Whitehead). Marshall's elder brother Shakspere became a sculptor and settled in Rome, establishing himself as an authority on the city's arts and antiquities, while Marshall himself remained in England, becoming a regular exhibitor at the Royal Academy between 1854 and 1875. He had an address in Osnaburgh Street, Regent's Park, London. However, he travelled widely, and spent some time in New York: an article in the New York Times describes a visit to his studio at 103 East Fifteenth Street, where several of his sculptures were seen, including the popular Daphne and Musidora. Also mentioned in the American account is perhaps his most famous piece, Song of the Shirt.
The art critic and pundit Francis Turner Palgrave considered Wood to be a member of the "corrupt school of Chantrey" (Read 20), along with Matthew Noble, Henry Weekes and others, all of whom Palgrave thought were "coarse and careless ... in modelling and execution" (qtd in Read 20). But he clearly attracted a good deal of attention and some major commissions, producing marble portrait busts of the Prince and Princess of Wales and statues of Queen Victoria for Montreal, Ottawa, Melbourne, and Sydney, as well as one for Kolkata in India. The royal busts were much praised in the Times, that of the Prince being described as "colossal," its drapery "very happily cast," and the likeness "admirable." In the same article, Wood is also said to have shown "excellent taste" in modelling the prince's head, and is equally praised for his likeness of the princess ("Portraits of the Prince and Princess of Wales"). Wood's statue of Richard Cobden for St Anne's Square, Manchester, also received favourable coverage.
As well as ideal sculptures and busts and statues of royalty and so on, Wood executed some literary likenesses — a medallion of Robert Browning shown in 1854, and a bust of Dickens, which was put up for auction shortly after Wood's death. He died in Brighton on 16 July 1882, aged only 46, leaving a widow, Fanny Helen Wood.— Jacqueline Banerjee
"The Cobden Statue at Manchester." The Times. 23 April 1867, p.6. Times Digital Archive. Web. 2 February 2013.
"Fine Arts: New Statuary...." New York Times. 17 November 1872. Web. 2 February 2013.
"The Late Mr Marshall Wood." Trove Digitised Newspapers and More. Web. 2 February 2013.
Nicholson, Albert, and Christopher Whitehead. "Wood, Shakspere (1827-1886)." Oxford Dictionary of Literary Biography. Online ed. Web. 2 February 2013.
"Portraits of the Prince and Princess of Wales." The Times. 20 March 1863, p. 523 April 1867, p.6. Times Digital Archive. Web. 2 February 2013.
Read, Benedict. Victorian Sculpture. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1982.
Last modified 15 February 2013