Memorial to Joseph Edwards in Highgate West Cemetery, London

Headstone of Welsh-born sculptor Joseph Edwards (1814-1882). Designed by Frederic Winter and Walter Merritt, two of his pupils. Edwards was recalled in the annals of the Honourable Society of Cymmrodorion, the long-established society of the London Welsh, as a "patriotic and gifted Welshman" (Powell 44); but he is not as well known as he ought to be. Perhaps this is largely because, after a promising beginning, he spent most of his London career in the studio of Matthew Noble, and was left to complete Noble's commissions when he died in 1876. But he was also a particularly painstaking sculptor, who took a long time to complete each work to his own satisfaction. In later life, the unworldly Edwards needed help from the Turner bequest, but he only received one instalment of it before his own death in 1882 (Ellis).

Edwards lived in Hampstead, and one of his "noble conceptions," The Daughter of Grace — Religion, stands over another grave in Highgate cemetery, close to where he himself is buried (Wilkins 103). A commentator in the Art-Journal said that the Welsh "may well be proud of their countryman, Joseph Edwards. There are artists who will make as good busts, but there is no living sculptor who can produce monumental work so pure, so refined, so essentially holy. There seems to be in his mind and soul a natural piety that manifests itself in his work; an out-pouring of a lofty religious sentiment; a true conception of what is just and right" (qtd. in Jones 200).

Photographs by Robert Freidus, appearing here by kind permission of Highgate Cemetery. Text and formatting by the author. [Click on images to enlarge them.]


Ellis, Megan. "Edwards, Joseph." Welsh Biography Online (National Library of Wales). Web. 30 December 2013.

Jones, Rev. Robert. Y Cymmrodor: Transactions of the Honourable Society of Cymmrodorion. Vol 2 (1878). Internet Archive. Web. 30 December 2013.

Powell, Thomas, ed. Y Cymmrodor: Transactions of the Honourable Society of Cymmrodorion. Vol 5 (1882). Internet Archive. Web. 30 December 2013.

Wilkins, Charles. "Notable Men of Wales: Joseph Edwards, the Sculptor." The Red Dragon: The National Magazine of Wales. Vol. I (Feb.-July, 1882). Internet Archive. Web. 30 December 2013.

Last modified 30 December 2013