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Henry Weekes ( 1807 - 1877 )  Category ( Sculptors ) [suggest a correction]

Henry Weekes was a nineteenth-century English sculpture, most famous for his portraiture, which was a popular form of art during the Victorian period. He sculpted the first bust of Queen Victoria after she took the throne of England in the 1830s. He also produced monuments to poet Percy Bysshe Shelley, his wife, the novelist, Mary Shelley, and other well-known public works of the era.

Weekes was born in Canterbury, the only surviving son of Capon Weekes, a London banker. The young Weekes displayed an early aptitude and interest in design and drawing. When he was a child he preferred sketching and copying old prints to playing traditional youthful games. He was also a dedicated student, spending hours in study. This behavior drew the ire of some of his schoolmates, and the child often returned home with black eyes and disheveled clothing. When he was in his early teens, and despite many remonstrances from friends and relatives that a career in art was but a "mad scheme," his father determined that Weekes should benefit from an education in art. He sent the boy to France, where he learned the language and studied art. He received praise from his tutors and the public as well, and he was encouraged to pursue further study in art.

For a time his family was unable to provide additional instruction, but a legacy from a relative allowed Weekes' father to send his son to an eminent portrait-sculptor in England. Weekes studied there for five years, and by the time he was sixteen he was positioned to earn money from sculpting commissions. He continued his studies at the Royal Academy, enrolling in night courses, where he earned a silver medal for the best model from the antique. The young sculptor became popular with the wealthy and famous. In 1837 he executed a bust of the newly crowned Queen Victoria. Shortly after this he came into another, larger legacy, from a friend and mentor. From these funds Weekes was able to open his own, modern studio. The royal commission led to more work from the rich and highly placed. Two of his best known works include "The Mother's Kiss," regarded as possessing a particular depth of feeling and delicacy; and "The Young Naturalist," a figure of a young girl standing amongst rocks and seaweed on the shore, and holding a star-fish.

Later in his career, Weekes accepted government and civic commissions, including a sculpture for the Museum of the College of Surgeons. In 1863 Weekes was elected to full membership in the Royal Academy and sat on its council, where his main objective was to work to improve education in art. He felt that sculpture did not receive enough attention and support, in schools and society in general. By the early 1870s his health began to fail, and from 1877 he was confined at home, where he died at age seventy.

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