Left: The original plaster cast (tinted plaster, 93 cm high). Private collection, Canada. Right two: The marble version, which is 93 cm high, that was executed for Lady Ashburton and is now in the National Gallery of Scotland in Edinburgh (accession no. NG 2571). [Click on images to enlarge them.]
Munro’s Young Romilly, one of his principal works of ideal sculpture, was exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1863. This work displays a detailed naturalism characteristic of the first phase of Pre-Raphaelitism. Jason Rosenfeld has commented: “This group represents the pinnacle of the treatment of nature in Pre-Raphaelite sculpture. It conformed to conventional subject matter in the movement, based on William Wordsworth’s ‘The Force of Prayer’ (1807) about the foundation of Bolton Priory…
Young Romilly through the Barden woods
Is ranging high and low;
And holds a greyhound in a leash,
To let slip upon buck or doe.
William Egremeont, known as Romilly, accompanied by a spirited hound, fell and perished in the Strid, a deep cleft in the rocks filled with the waters of the River Wharfe. Little sense of impending peril is felt in this image, however, where the protagonists pose against a convincing still wind, the dog rising into the face of it” (112). Following Romilly’s death his mother supposedly erected Bolton Priory nearby in his memory. Munro’s work was generally more affiliated with the poetic and literary inspirations of Pre-Raphaelites rather than their realistic aspirations, but in Young Romilly he manages to combine both traditions. Munro has portrayed Romilly just prior to the point of his falling to his death with his dog rearing up on his hind legs and snarling with bared teeth.
The model for the young Romilly was Walter Herbert Ingram (1855-1888), the fourth son of Herbert Ingram, a British Liberal politician and the founder of the Illustrated London News. In the sculpture Romilly wears a coat-of-arms on his tunic to show his noble birth and his right to own a greyhound. In this case Munro has used the traditional coat-of-arms of the Ingram family, ermine on a fesse gules three escallops. The dog portrayed is said to be a long-haired greyhound but is more likely to be a Scottish deerhound.
When the sculpture was shown at the Royal Academy in 1863 the critic for The Illustrated London News commented:
All Mr. Munro’s works of fancy are distinguished by grace and refinement of feeling; but in the small group we have engraved there is, in addition, an unusual degree of animation. The action of both boy and dog have a spirit and vivacity very appropriate in a stirring and romantic poetical episode, but of difficult attainment in the heavy, cold, and rigid material of marble. The chief difficulty in this group – the artistic difficulty of conveying an idea of movement and animation – Mr. Munro has successfully surmounted. The more mechanical difficulty of representing standing ferns, foxgloves, &tc, in marble it was, of course, quite impossible to conquer entirely with the chisel. Admitting, however, the propriety of such accessories in marble, the sculptor has rendered them – and also the texture of the staghound’s coat – with sufficient closeness for the purpose of his representation, and with much skilful carving and ‘under-cutting. 
This sculpture is known to exist in at least three versions. The best is the marble version that was executed for Lady Ashburton and is now in the National Gallery of Scotland in Edinburgh. This work was exhibited in Pre-Raphaelites Victorian Avant-Garde at the Tate Britain in 2012. There is another debased and re-worked marble version, present location unknown. The original plaster cast is in a private Canadian collection.
The Illustrated London News. 42 (May 23 1863): 569.
Rosenfeld, Jason. In Pre-Raphaelites Victorian Avant-Garde, London, Tate Publishing, 2012. Cat. 83, p. 112.
> Last modified 26 April 2021