Not currently on display at the V&A

Crossed hands of Thomas Carlyle (1795-1881)

Hand
ca. 1874-1875 (made)
Artist/Maker
Place Of Origin

A plaster version of 1875 by Brucciani and Co. after Boehm is in the National Portrait Gallery, London; a further plaster cast of 1874 of Carlyle's hands is in Carlyle's House, Chelsea, London, together with a bronze cast of the NPG's hands. The hands appear to relate to those of the statue to the eminent author that was executed by Boehm and erected on Chelsea Embankment, London, in 1882. A smaller, terracotta version of the Embankment statue is in the Museum's collection (inv.no. A.84-1930). A series of casts of hands, including the present piece, was acquired by the Museum in 1892 from the executors of Sir Joseph Edgar Boehm's estate.

Carlyle (1795-1881) man of letters, essayist and historian, was born in Ecclefechan, Dumfries and Galloway. Son of a stonemason, he studied at Edinburgh University, and taught for several years, before beginning to write articles for the Edinburgh Encyclopaedia, and becoming absorbed in German literature, notably Goethe. In 1826 he married Jane Baillie Welsh (1801-66). His best known work, 'Sartor Resartus' appeared in 1833-4. He then moved to London, where he wrote his other major works on the French Revolution (3 vols, 1837) and Frederick the Great (6 vols, 1858-65). In 1866 his wife died, leaving letters and a journal showing her to have been one of the most accomplished women of her time. After her death, Carlyle retired from public life, and wrote little.

Boehm (1834-1890) was an English sculptor and medallist born in Austrian, as the youngest son of Joseph Daniel Boehm (1794–1865), a court medallist and director of the Imperial Mint at Vienna. From 1848 to 1851 Joseph Edgar attended Leigh’s art academy (later Heatherley’s) in London and drew the Parthenon marbles in the British Museum. On his return to Vienna he enrolled at the Akademie der Bildenden Künste. Around 1858–9 he visited Italy, where he developed a lasting admiration for early Renaissance sculpture. From 1859 to 1862 he worked in Paris and was influenced by the work of Paul Gayrard (1807–1855). Boehm settled in London in 1862 where he befriended John Leech and John Everett Millais, both of whom he portrayed in statuettes in 1863. A statuette of William Makepeace Thackeray (1864) led to an edition of 70 plaster casts. Boehm frequently worked in terracotta, a material common in French sculpture but less familiar in English. Queen Victoria’s admiration of Boehm’s statuettes led to an association with the royal family that lasted from 1869 until his death. Most of Boehm’s works are portrait busts. Boehm was immensely prolific: some 360 different works are documented. He was a highly consistent sculptor, rarely deviating from his brand of realism. He was modest about his immense popularity and aware of his imaginative shortcomings (cit.: M. Stocker: 'Boehm, Joseph Edgar').


object details
Categories
Object Type
Materials and Techniques
Plaster
Brief Description
Plaster cast, crossed hands of Thomas Carlyle, by Sir Joseph Edgar Boehm, England, ca. 1874-5
Physical Description
Plaster, hands, crossed.
Dimensions
  • Length: 35cm
  • Width: 22cm
  • Depth: 14cm
  • Weight: 2.66kg
Credit line
Given by the executors of the artist
Object history
Given by the Executors of the late Sir J.E. Boehm in 1892.
Subject depicted
Summary
A plaster version of 1875 by Brucciani and Co. after Boehm is in the National Portrait Gallery, London; a further plaster cast of 1874 of Carlyle's hands is in Carlyle's House, Chelsea, London, together with a bronze cast of the NPG's hands. The hands appear to relate to those of the statue to the eminent author that was executed by Boehm and erected on Chelsea Embankment, London, in 1882. A smaller, terracotta version of the Embankment statue is in the Museum's collection (inv.no. A.84-1930). A series of casts of hands, including the present piece, was acquired by the Museum in 1892 from the executors of Sir Joseph Edgar Boehm's estate.



Carlyle (1795-1881) man of letters, essayist and historian, was born in Ecclefechan, Dumfries and Galloway. Son of a stonemason, he studied at Edinburgh University, and taught for several years, before beginning to write articles for the Edinburgh Encyclopaedia, and becoming absorbed in German literature, notably Goethe. In 1826 he married Jane Baillie Welsh (1801-66). His best known work, 'Sartor Resartus' appeared in 1833-4. He then moved to London, where he wrote his other major works on the French Revolution (3 vols, 1837) and Frederick the Great (6 vols, 1858-65). In 1866 his wife died, leaving letters and a journal showing her to have been one of the most accomplished women of her time. After her death, Carlyle retired from public life, and wrote little.



Boehm (1834-1890) was an English sculptor and medallist born in Austrian, as the youngest son of Joseph Daniel Boehm (1794–1865), a court medallist and director of the Imperial Mint at Vienna. From 1848 to 1851 Joseph Edgar attended Leigh’s art academy (later Heatherley’s) in London and drew the Parthenon marbles in the British Museum. On his return to Vienna he enrolled at the Akademie der Bildenden Künste. Around 1858–9 he visited Italy, where he developed a lasting admiration for early Renaissance sculpture. From 1859 to 1862 he worked in Paris and was influenced by the work of Paul Gayrard (1807–1855). Boehm settled in London in 1862 where he befriended John Leech and John Everett Millais, both of whom he portrayed in statuettes in 1863. A statuette of William Makepeace Thackeray (1864) led to an edition of 70 plaster casts. Boehm frequently worked in terracotta, a material common in French sculpture but less familiar in English. Queen Victoria’s admiration of Boehm’s statuettes led to an association with the royal family that lasted from 1869 until his death. Most of Boehm’s works are portrait busts. Boehm was immensely prolific: some 360 different works are documented. He was a highly consistent sculptor, rarely deviating from his brand of realism. He was modest about his immense popularity and aware of his imaginative shortcomings (cit.: M. Stocker: 'Boehm, Joseph Edgar').
Bibliographic References
  • Bilbey, Diane with Trusted, Marjorie, British Sculpture 1470 to 2000. A Concise Catalogue of the Collection at the Victoria and Albert Museum, London, 2002, p. 203, cat. no. 288
  • List of Reproductions in Electrotype and Plaster acquired by the South kensington Museum in the Year 1892, London, 1893, p. 13
Collection
Accession Number
REPRO.1892-97

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record createdJanuary 15, 2003
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