Memorial to Sophia Thrale,” by John Flaxman

Memorial to Sophia Thrale by John Flaxman. 1821. Marble. St Leonard's Church, Streatham, London SW16. This was the parish church in which Dr Johnson (1709-84) worshipped on his many visits to his friends the Thrales in Streatham, and two of the Thrale Memorials here, to Henry Thrale and his mother-in-law, have Latin inscriptions composed by Johnson himself. This later one, to the Thrales' third daughter Sophia, is in English, and tells us that she equalled her grandmother in virtue, and that the "excellence of her mind" was expressed in her beauty. Arthur Mee explains that the relief shows "her husband weeping” by her bed, her sisters kneeling at the foot, and a flying angel beckoning her to heaven." He adds that it was sculpted” by Flaxman, "whom William Blake called the sculptor of eternity" (776). Cf. Domestic Affliction, a similar memorial to Lady (Julia) Shuckburgh-Evelyn (1798).

Photograph, caption, and commentary by Jacqueline Banerjee. [You may use the photograph without prior permission for any scholarly or educational purpose as long as you (1) credit the photographer and (2) link your document to this URL or cite it in a print document.]


Mee, Arthur. London: Heart of the Empire and Wonder of the World. London: Hodder & Stoughton, 1937

Last modified 15 March 2011