Edward Hodges Baily RA (1788-1867)

Baily's Pallas Athena.

E. H. Baily, sculptor of the Nelson on Nelson's Column, was a native of Bristol, the son of a noted carver of ships' figure-heads. He showed early promise in carving and wax modelling, and in 1807 entered the studio of Flaxman. He then became chief modeller to Rundell and Bridge, a leading gold and silversmiths (he retained this connection for 25 years), and also was a student at the Royal Academy Schools from 1809. He exhibited much at the Academy, and was elected ARA in 1817, and full RA in 1821, retiring in 1862.

During his long career, a variety of significant sculptors were students to him or assistants in his studio, including William Theed the Younger, John Durham, William Calder Marshall, E. B. Stephens and E. Davis. He had 8 surviving children, and one daughter married his student Edgar George Papworth (Sr), so that Baily had at least one grandson who was a sculptor, Edgar George Papworth (Jr).

Baily's output consisted mainly of portrait busts and statues, often very large, and a variety of classical works, as well as domestic groupings such of the 'Mother and Child' type. He favoured an idealised slightly over-sweet style for these latter, working in white marble. The figure that made his reputation was Eve at the Fountain, shown at the Academy in 1818. This work is now at Bristol, with later versions elsewhere, and was further popularised through engravings and a Parian ware figure by Minton. Among other works in similar vein we can mention Girl preparing for the bath, The Morning Star, Una and the Lion and Sleeping Nymph.

By contrast, Baily's church monuments include some very much in the style of Flaxman, and others rather more conventional, with girls leaning on pillars and so forth. He also made a number with portrait medallions, a nice example being shown on the page for St John the Evangelist Church, Stoke-next-Guildford, Surrey.

In London, apart from the statue of Nelson in Trafalgar Square, Baily made much of the sculpture for Marble Arch, some of the exterior work on Buckingham Palace, and various monuments in St Pauls and Westminster Abbey. He also has one work near that other column, for the Duke of York, in Waterloo Place - it is the excellent Pallas Athena on the portico of the Athenium. In Chelmsford, County town of Essex, is Baily's Chief Justice Tindal, in a square of the same name. A statue of Sir Robert Peel is in Bury, and an Earl Grey is on another column, in Newcastle. Further work is in the Bristol gallery, and in the Cathedral there. Among works abroad by Baily are Sir Richard Bourke for Sydney, Australia, and Sir Charles Metcalfe for Kingston, Jamaica. Although his imaginary and ideal works are very classical, Baily did not attempt to give his modern portrait subjects a classical look with heavy drapes, long cloaks and so forth. However, a characteristic of his sculpture is the understated pose, giving a sense of stillness or repose to his subjects, which evokes a spirit of the classical ideal.

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