Sculpture from the Victorian era is found in public spaces in the UK and around the world and many museums and galleries have significant collections, yet remarkably little is known about many of the artists behind these works.
Dr Jason Edwards, from the University of York, will work with Professor Michael Hatt, from the University of Warwick, and the Yale Center for British Art on a three year project culminating in an exhibition in the US and the UK.
The research has been made possible by a £410,000 grant from the Arts and Humanities Research Council.
Dr Edwards, from the Department of History of Art, said: “In this period the British Empire stretched around the globe, sculpture was being produced on a large scale and millions of people were viewing it but the majority of the artists concerned have since faded into relative obscurity.
“We will be looking at the prevalence of sculpture in the Victorian era, from statues in parks and squares to decorative features on jewellery and cutlery and seeking to understand its place in Britain’s national and imperial history.”
During the course of the project, the researchers will work with regional museums in Britain to examine their collections of Victorian sculpture and find new ways of making them more accessible for the public.
Two PhD students will also investigate the collection amassed by Queen Victoria and Prince Albert, who were significant patrons of the period, and the place of sculpture in the 19th Century’s many international exhibitions.