State Library Victoria > La Trobe Journal

No 80 Spring 2007


Caroline Clemente
Thomas Woolner's Portrait Medallion of C. J. La Trobe

The Only portrait of Lieutenant-Governor Charles Joseph La Trobe dating from his fourteen years of office in Victoria is a low relief, profile portrait medallion executed in 1853. For many years, it was reproduced on the front cover of the La Trobe Library Journal, an appropriate choice of subject both for its uniqueness and its quality. Its creator, Thomas Woolner (1825–1892), who was born in England, was an original member and the only sculptor amongst the famous group of artists formed in London in 1848, known as the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood. The seven Brethren were still close when Woolner left for the Victorian gold fields in July 1852. However, by the time he returned to England in 1854, the bonds had loosened and individual members were pursuing their separate careers, even though their fame endured and their stylistic influence persisted in British art for many years.
Woolner arrived at Melbourne on 25 October 1852. His departure from Gravesend had inspired one of England's most popular nineteenth-century subject paintings, The Last of England of 1854, by his friend Ford Madox Brown. Although Brown is known to have portrayed himself and his wife as the central figures in the roundel, the brooding intensity of the young man's expression may well have been suggested by the young Thomas Woolner's forceful, flamboyant personality. In joining the gold rush, Woolner's aim was to make his fortune and return as soon as possible to England. By this means he hoped to escape his former life of penury and drudgery in London as a ‘carver’. This technical term, however, signified that Woolner had attained the highest skill after six years training in the studio of the eminent sculptor, William Behnes, who, if he lacked flair and originality, nonetheless gave excellent instruction in every facet of his craft. Technically one of the most accomplished masters of his day, Behnes was known for the accurate likeness and psychological penetration of his portrait sculptures.1 Woolner's burning ambition was to achieve artistic pre-eminence through the creation of monumental sculptural projects that expressed the aesthetic ideals he had formulated together with his Pre-Raphaelite Brethren. He travelled to Victoria with two other artists, both closely associated with the group although not members themselves. These were the brilliant designer and draftsman, Edward La Trobe Bateman, an eccentric cousin of Lieutenant-Governor La Trobe, and Bernhard Smith, a fine sculptor whose innovative work in the field of portrait medallions had strongly influenced Woolner.
On the face of it, a medallion containing La Trobe's profile in low relief may seem an odd choice for a sculpted portrait. In fact, it was an ingenious means of coping with the

Dante Gabriel Rossetti, artist. Thomas Woolner. 1852. Pencil drawing. NPG 3848. National Portrait Gallery, London.

difficult conditions confronting mid-nineteenth century British sculptors. In the first half of the century, sculpture in England was in the doldrums with a paucity of public commissions and private patronage. The decade of the ‘hungry forties’ was especially grim for aspiring artists such as Woolner, struggling to establish a career in hard times.2 Commissions for portraits and tomb sculpture were almost the only categories in which sculptors might hope to scrape a living. Larger commissions offering greater scope for the display of talent and imagination were, at best, very thin on the ground.3
The advantages of the portrait medallion were its relatively low cost, modest size and the fact that it could be adapted to the circumstances of each commission. Portraits could be executed in plaster or bronze according to a patron's taste and means and they could be enlarged or reduced and reproduced any number of times. Hence the number of bronze casts of the La Trobe medallion in the State Library of Victoria and other public collections both in Australia and overseas as well as in private hands. And as with a fine reproductive print, another plus was that quality control remained in the sculptor's hands. Up to the mid-nineteenth century bronze, which can be finely worked, was cast then chased, that is finished by hand in the artist's studio: chisels and punches were used to create smooth surface finishes and define details of features such as hair and eye sockets. The compact dimensions of a portrait medallion meant that it could be displayed in a domestic environment like a painting. In fact, before photography gradually became accessible to the general public in the mid-1850s, drawn, painted or sculpted images were the only means of preserving a person's appearance. Furthermore, the relative affordability of low relief profile portraits made them available to a wider section of the public than sculpted heads or busts in the round that required more material, more work and thus greater expense.
When he left Australia to return to England in 1854, Woolner had not amassed the hoped-for fortune. But he took with him the foundation of future fame and financial reward that duly became his as one of Victorian England's foremost sculptors. Those in Melbourne who first set him on the road to success were Lieutenant-Governor La Trobe and
Dr and Mrs Godfrey Howitt. It is also possible to pinpoint, almost to the day, the launching of this remarkable career trajectory. On 28 October 1852, from the Howitts' house at 1 Collins Street East, Woolner wrote to his father:
I am staying at the above address and receive every kindness possible for a human being to have from another. The Howitts are delightful people and live exactly like rich people do in England. Bateman sleeps at his Excellency's, Mr Latrobe's, to give more convenience to us. We have to dine with that great man today: he wants to know me because Bateman found that my little figure of Red Riding Hood was one of his favorite ornaments and told him [La Trobe] I did it: he says I must not leave the Colony without doing something in the fine arts first.4
Ambitious and energetic, Woolner seized the opportunity. Having arrived on 25 October, within one week of setting foot in Melbourne, he noted in his diary: ‘I should have taken a sketch of Mr La Trobe's face in the afternoon but I was rather late and he had gone out for a drive with his lady. He did not return till 5.30 p.m. near his dining hour. This morning I did a little to the sketch of Charley Howitt’.5
However, the most pressing task at hand was the fortune to be dug out of the gold-fields. On 2 November, he left in the company of his shipboard companions, Bateman and Smith. Later, they met up on the road to the diggings with another party of Dr Godfrey Howitt's relatives: his younger son, Edward, and the doctor's older brother, the famous English author, William Howitt, together with both his sons, Alfred and Charlton. The reality check took less than a month of hard physical labour for little or no reward: ‘My anticipations are considerably moderated since I began digging, now I see no very sparkling fortune in the future: soon as ever I get a little enough to give me a start in London, I am off to a certainty’.6 Finally, on 18 May 1853, Woolner wrote: ‘I expect to start for Melbourne tomorrow, if so this is my last night on the diggings. Try life in other shapes’.7 He later calculated that the value of the gold he found was £50 while his expenses had amounted to £80.8
On 16 April 1853, almost exactly a month before Woolner finally gave away gold prospecting as a lost cause, his friend and fellow founding member of the Pre-Raphaelite Brethren, Dante Gabriel Rossetti, had written to him from London: ‘How queer that Mr Latrobe should have your “Red Riding Hood”. I remember you were working at that the first time I ever saw you. I feel quite confident as to portraiture in Australia, in case digging fails’.9 Rossetti's prediction proved accurate since on 10 July Woolner announced to his father: ‘I have come to Melbourne to work at my art. There is every prospect of my doing well, as I have powerful friends who are anxious to aid me in every way. I am staying at Dr Howitt's and the kindness of his family to me is wonderful. I have executed a medallion of the Doctor, one of his Excellency and another of little Charley Howitt. They all give great satisfaction here and you will see what the newspaper says which I send you’.10
These prestigious commissions had just the right profile-raising effect for Woolner. La Trobe had been appointed Lieutenant-Governor of the new colony of Victoria in 1851, and
his position now entailed considerable powers of patronage. Equally significant for Woolner was the fact that this head of government was a cultivated man of taste and refinement. In 1840, only five months after their arrival at the rough, frontier Port Phillip settlement, a guest of the La Trobes recorded his impressions of the Jolimont household:
Dined with La Trobe, very neat house in the cottage style everything having the appearance of being settled by the hand of taste. Mrs La Trobe very pleasing — a Swiss lady — La Trobe, pleasing, lively and entertaining, has seen much of the world and details well what he has seen. Three admirable portrait paintings in the drawing room done by a Swiss artist — watercolours but with the depth very nearly of oil and without any of that finican effect which highly finished watercolour drawings are so apt to have. Also a good collection of prints…11
That same year, La Trobe had announced to a friend: ‘society is of course…in its infancy -the arts and sciences are unborn’.12 Yet on a miserable salary, he had quietly gone about nurturing both in a private capacity. From less than a handful of professionally trained artists in the colony during the first decade of the 1840s, he had purchased pastel views of his house and garden by George Alexander Gilbert and portraits of his children by Georgiana McCrae.13 Before his return to Europe, he commissioned from his cousin a series of superlative souvenir views of Jolimont, executed in Bateman's brilliant pencil technique.
The fact that La Trobe owned Woolner's Red Riding Hood in parian ware, a fine white porcelain recently produced for the mass-market by the British firm, Copeland c.1849, suggests that he was reasonably up-to-date with developments in the fine arts in England.14 As a lover of books and widely read, he could obtain journals and publications from London with a delay of as little as four months. By such means he would have known of the emergence in London of that controversial band of young Turks, the Pre-Raphaelite Brothers. He would have been aware that they jeered at prevailing academic art conventions laid down by ‘silly old Sloshua Reynolds’, believing that they resulted in brown sludge on bogus Old Masters churned out by the current crop of art students.15 The original seven members of the ‘P.R.B.’, as they were popularly called, had issued a challenge to the London art establishment: their avowed aim was to produce imaginative works of art that were at the same time of poetic conception and strictly true to nature, being firmly based on the most minutely observed and faithfully reproduced visual realism.
In the notoriously difficult field of sculpture, those who managed to survive by practising their art, turned a living from portrait busts and funerary monuments. But for the ambitious, like Woolner, the ultimate goal was to produce Ideal works based on episodes from history, the Bible, literature, poetry or mythology, since these were the most prestigious of all genres in both painting and sculpture.16 During the 1840s in England, Woolner had devised a number of sculptural projects that expressed the artistic principles of the Pre-Raphaelites which won him critical approval but failed to net him patrons. In 1851, he entered the national competition for the Wordsworth monument for Westminster Abbey, Wordsworth being revered by the Pre-Raphaelites as one of the great poets of nature. Woolner's elaborate composition, consisting of groups of figures in the round, amounted to
a Pre-Raphaelite manifesto in sculpture. Though the composition was highly commended, the commission went elsewhere, and this disappointment appears to have influenced Woolner's decision to seek his fortune in Australia.17
Along with his more ambitious projects, Woolner had also created a series of small imaginative figures of fanciful subjects, such as Red Riding Hood and his personal favourite, a wicked, flitting Puck, of c.1844, from Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream.18 These figurines could be recreated as required in clay, plaster or bronze or, as noted in the case of Red Riding Hood, mass-produced in porcelain for a much wider market. Between 1846 and 1852 prior to his departure for Australia, Woolner had also executed a series of six portrait medallions. It seems that his most immediate source of influence was the sculptor, Bernhard Smith, who shared his London studio and who had begun producing these low relief profile portraits after his return from France.19 Woolner declared that he had adopted the genre ‘to get a living with’, but he also stated that in each case the highest standards of accuracy and careful research and execution were maintained.20 Among them were profile portraits of the eminent literary figures, Tennyson and Carlyle. Woolner undoubtedly hoped they would have market appeal due to the Victorians' fondness for collecting sculpted busts and images of their favourite heroes. Woolner always made sure he got on with the great and the good, and over the course of his career he produced a portrait gallery in sculpture of many of the brightest stars of British culture. His motive was more than just political, however, since he was seriously interested in literature; an amateur poet in his own right, he had work published in the Pre-Raphaelite magazine, The Germ. His admiration for Tennyson, one of the literary giants of the period, was perfectly sincere.21

Thomas Woolner, sculptor. Red Riding Hood. Ca. 1849. Illustrated in B. Read and J. Barnes, eds., Pre-Raphaelite Sculpture: Nature and Imagination in British Sculpture 1848–1914. AF 735.220941 P91R.

In Melbourne, Woolner started at the top with Lieutenant-Governor La Trobe, his Howitt hosts and a number of notables belonging to their personal circle in 1853.22 At the beginning of the following year, having explored all avenues of possible commissions locally, he moved on to Sydney. He went armed with an introduction, doubtless supplied by La Trobe or the Howitts, to Sir Charles Nicholson, formerly of Melbourne, who was now Speaker of the House in New South Wales. This was the key to his subsequent success there. Through Nicholson's introductions, public figures such as Sir Charles Fitzroy, James Macarthur, Sir James Martin and William Charles Wentworth were persuaded to sit to him. In the hope of winning the commission for a statue of Wentworth to be judged in England, Woolner returned to London in 1854, having honed his modelling skills and sharpened his marketing strategies in the colonies.
He took home with him a case of plaster masters from which to produce portrait medallions in cast bronze. That he was counting on commissions resulting from his Australian oeuvre as start-up capital, is confirmed by a distressed diary entry when they apparently disappeared during the voyage home: ‘I shall be in a most unfortunate position; I shall be there in England without the means of doing what is an important part of my business; it will be more out of my pocket than I can reckon’. His relief when informed that his medallion case — his seeding capital, in fact — had been sighted, was immense: ‘It was a great delight to hear this and has … removed a great weight from my mind: without my medallions I should be like a man on an uninhabited district with but little food and having lost his stock of seed that he meant should serve him in times to come’.23 Following his return from Australia, he produced new portrait medallions of Tennyson and Carlyle and added the poet, Robert Browning, in 1856 to create a trio of living literary treasures. This particular sculptural genre answered so well that Woolner executed another forty or so portrait medallions over the next three decades.24
Pushy and noisily opinionated though Woolner was, when it came to sculpture, he was a perfectionist and his success ultimately depended on the highest standards he invariably set himself. His ability to capture a striking physical likeness while at the same time conveying something of his subject's inner life was outstanding. Critics of the day invariably commented on this feature that sharply differentiated his work from contemporaries such as Bernhard Smith whose more generalized treatment of form gave his portraits a blander, static appearance.25 The English scholar and expert on nineteenth-century British sculpture, Benedict Read, has rated Woolner's ‘accuracy in modelling realistic detail’ as being ‘without parallel in contemporary sculpture’.26 This depended as much on his thorough grasp of underlying facial and bodily structure as his gift for perceiving and recreating finely nuanced surface forms and lifelike textures of hair and skin. An accretion of closely observed lines and wrinkles, outward signs of mind and temperament, articulate the features of Woolner's portraits, conveying a sense of character and personality. This impression is reinforced by his treatment of the eye. Not for Woolner the blank, lifeless stare that makes so many ancient and contemporary sculpted heads look

Thomas Woolner, sculptor. Charles Joseph La Trobe. 1853. Plaster. H141489. La Trobe Picture Collection.

like death masks. Woolner modelled the eye socket to suggest that his sitter gazes at some focal point beyond the confines of the medallion. This gives his portrait profiles an appearance of mental alertness to match his lively portrayal of their physiognomy.
One Melbourne critic reported much difficulty in choosing the best of Woolner's first three profile medallions of La Trobe, Dr Godfrey Howitt and his youngest son, Charles, since all gave
the ‘counterfeit presentiment’ of inner life. […] If we were compelled to express a preference at all, we should give it to the medallion of the Governor, Mr La Trobe. On those — to our eyes, neither unamiable nor unintelligent — features lingers still (not withstanding how he ‘catches it’ now and then,) that smile, ‘which’, as our contemporary, as we are told, once said of it, ‘might ripen a banana’; — not bad that, by the bye, — and every line of the face evinces that power in the artist, of catching and fixing the habitual mood of the mind, as told by the countenance…”.27
How La Trobe received such qualified approval, if he noticed it at all, is not known. It may have seemed almost kindly compared with the outrageous attacks he frequently endured at the hands of the press which at times overcame even La Trobe's sense of humour and normally cheerful outlook.28

Thomas Woolner, sculptor. Lieutenant Governor Charles La Trobe. 1853. Bronze. H29576. La Trobe Picture Collection.

On 21 November, 2006, the year of La Trobe, an astounding gap was at long last filled in the ranks of public sculpture commemorating Melbourne's founding fathers. Commissioned by the La Trobe Society, the Melbourne artist, Peter Corlett, completed the first free-standing, monumental bronze statue of Victoria's earliest Lieutenant-Governor, now placed on the left-hand lawn before the main façade of the State Library of Victoria. In creating his preparatory clay model, the sculptor studied reproductions of surviving images of La Trobe. For the duration of the work, he kept an original version of Woolner's medallion of 1853 in his studio. Technically very fine, the bronze was invaluable for its accurate likeness of La Trobe's profile. In it, Corlett discerned a certain aloof dignity, devolving in part from the imperial classical origins of the genre itself. However, La Trobe was noted for his patrician reserve, along with sensitivity, piety and a degree of determination, all qualities which Corlett felt were suggested in Woolner's portrait of him.29
It was not just in their ‘excelling truthfulness’ and ‘devotion to nature’ that Woolner's portraits incorporated some of the fundamental artistic principles espoused by the Pre-Raphaelites.30 The low relief profile medallion itself reflected historical art forms that the Brethren acknowledged as forerunners of their distinctive style. As the name suggests, the Pre-Raphaelites were drawn to what they perceived as the earnest piety, simplicity and

Susan Gordon-Brown, photographer, and Peter Corlett, sculptor. Plaster cast of the La Trobe statue (detail of head and shoulder). Photograph courtesty of Susan Gordon-Brown.

naturalness of Medieval and Early Renaissance art. This was in contra-distinction to the sophisticated compositions and highly wrought forms developed in High Renaissance art which Raphael, as one of its greatest exponents, represented. During the Early Italian Renaissance, all remnants of classical Antiquity excited intense interest, including readily recoverable coins and medals, often featuring the profiled heads of emperors and eminent men. Some of the finest quattrocento sculptors such as Pisanello and Matteo de' Pasti revived this form, and by the first half of the nineteenth century examples of their work could be viewed in the collections of the British Museum. A more immediate influence on Woolner, however, was his studio companion, Bernhard Smith, who had been trained in the genre in Paris by the French master, Ramey, and who began producing medallion portraits shortly after his return to London.31
Woolner came to Australia without any notion of exercising his art and therefore lacked the necessary tools or examples of his work to show to potential patrons. The sensible decision to fall back on sculpture to make a living involved certain problems, as he explained to his father:
I should be able to make some money quickly if it were not for the difficulty I have with plaster of Paris, that which is sent from England gets damp with sea air and is spoilt for
artistic purposes. I had a piece of gypsum given me which was a godsend, and have to break it to small pieces, then bake it in an oven, then pound it finely in a mortar, after that sift it thro' fine muslin: all this before one cast can be taken. I had to make some modelling tools ere I began and dig in the earth for some clay — this I could do to perfection after my 8 months digging experience…I have my tools a little in order now and mean to work hard. I get 25 pounds for a medallion here. In England they would not give me 25 pence. I should ask you to send some clay and tools but I am quite uncertain when I shall return…”.32
The reason Woolner returned to England with his precious baggage of plaster medallions was that there was no fine art bronze foundry in the colonies in which to cast his portraits. According to Peter Corlett, the process Woolner used would have been the lost wax method of casting. This involved taking a wax casting from a master plaster, packing it in heatproof material such as a mixture of plaster of paris and fireclay, and placing the mould in a kiln. Once all the wax was melted, molten bronze was poured into the mould to replace it. The cooling bronze in the firm packing solidified into the form of the original plaster medallion. This process caused a slight shrinkage between the diameter measurements of the plasters and the bronze medallions. The final product was then cleaned and chased in the studio under the eagle eye of its creator.33
Woolner hoped that his prosperous colonial subjects would send to London for bronze casts of their portraits. The ploy of including famous names and public figures among his sitters worked remarkably well. Of his Australian portraits, in the popularity stakes Charles William Wentworth vied for top place with La Trobe, of whom there are 13 known bronze versions in public collections and private hands as well as what was probably the original plaster medallion, now preserved in the Pictures Collection of the State Library of Victoria.34 Having returned to Melbourne after a successful year in Sydney, Woolner departed for England on July 22, 1854, knowing that winning the Wentworth statue commission would give his career lift-off. In the meanwhile, he and Edith, only daughter of Godfrey and Phebe Howitt, had become engaged. Phebe Howitt also seems to have fallen under the handsome young Woolner's spell — he could be immensely charming and uproariously funny — and she was highly sympathetic to the romance. But Edith Howitt was a young lady and until he was suitably established, her parents were not about to hand over their precious only daughter to a penniless, unknown sculptor, no matter how promising and personable. Evidence has come to light which shows that contrary to what has been assumed previously, an understanding existed between Edith Howitt and Thomas Woolner when he sailed for England.35 (The engagement with Edith Howitt was eventually broken off around the end of 1856 when her mother suddenly became totally incapacitated, probably caused by a severe stroke.36 ) The hopes of the young couple appear to have been pinned on Woolner winning the Wentworth commission. This, they fondly imagined, would be the key to making Woolner's name and fast-tracking his career, thereby improving his prospects as an acceptable match in the Howitt family's estimation.37
During May and June 1855, perhaps to divert her mind from her absent suitor, Edith Howitt went to stay at Boort station on the Loddon with family friends, the recently married Frederic Race Godfrey and his beautiful young wife, Lily. With Edith Howitt's compliance, her mother, Phebe, opened letters from Woolner arriving during her absence ‘up country’, and reported or transcribed the contents in her weekly letters to her daughter. We may be grateful for this singular arrangement since it throws invaluable light on Woolner's efforts to establish himself in London. On 25 May 1855 Phebe Howitt remarked to Edith: ‘I hope Tennyson will allow his medallion portrait to grace the illustrated edition [of his poems]. It would be a great thing for Mr Woolner to have it so’. And then, on 1 July, she tells Edith that another letter from London reports a setback for Woolner with Wentworth's decision not to go ahead with his statue but to use the money instead for a fellowship of the College of Sydney.
The same letter contains the brief but significant lines: ‘I will … give you all that relates to Mr Woolner that is important. He had received the £125 and would execute my commissions’.38 This undoubtedly referred to the four portrait medallions that Woolner had executed of members of the Howitt family: Godfrey, Phebe, Edith and the youngest son, Charley.39 However, as Woolner quoted £25 as the price for a portrait medallion in Australia, it seems likely that Phebe Howitt's commission was for five bronzes. The fact that bronze versions of Godfrey and Phebe Howitt, along with one of Charles Joseph La Trobe, are preserved in a private collection of direct family descendants, supports this conclusion. The Howitt and La Trobe families had been close for fourteen years from their arrival within months of each other in the very early days of the Port Phillip settlement. Taken together, these circumstances suggest that the Howitts would have been most likely to commission the only available portrait of La Trobe as a memento of a long and valued friendship.
The experience Woolner accumulated as a sculptor in the colonies was crucial as a launching pad for his subsequent brilliant career in London. He forged ahead to achieve fame and fortune as one of the most successful sculptors in mid-Victorian England. He was elected Royal Academician in 1875 and was appointed Professor of Sculpture between 1877 and 1879. During the 1870s, he executed several public monuments, including the statue of Captain Cook of 1878 for Sydney, generally regarded as his masterpiece in this category40 Over the course of time, his growing wealth enabled him to become a collector in his own right.41
After his return to England Woolner's artistic ambitions were largely fulfilled. Although he never returned to Australia, it was back in Melbourne that supporters such as the Howitts and La Trobe had played an essential role in fostering the beginnings of his career. And, as one of the finest sculptors of the Victorian period, Woolner clearly understood the calibre of friends like La Trobe, whose nobility of heart and mind he faithfully portrayed.


Benedict Read, ‘Thomas Woolner: PRB, RA’, in Benedict Read and Joanna Barnes, eds., Pre-Raphaelite Sculpture: Nature and the Imagination in British Sculpture 1848–1914, London, The Henry Moore Foundation in association with Lund Humphries, 1991, p 21.


Benedict Read, Victorian Sculpture, New Haven and London, Yale University Press, 1982, p. 27.


Ibid, p. 199.


On the south eastern corner of Collins and Spring Streets; Amy Woolner, ed., Thomas Woolner R.A., Sculptor and Poet: His Life in Letters, London, Chapman & Hall, 1917, p. 18.


Diary of Thomas Woolner in Australia, 1852–1854, 31 October, 1852. AJCP M Series, MS 1926, Microfilm, La Trobe Australian Manuscripts Collection, State Library of Victoria: abbreviated henceforth to La T. A. MS. Coll., SLV.


Woolner, Thomas Woolner R.A., p. 24.


Ibid, p. 44.


Ibid, p. 61.


Ibid, p. 53.


Ibid, p. 60.


Charles Griffith, Diary, 17 November 1840; MS 9393, Box 1125, La T. A. MS. Coll., SLV.


La Trobe to the publisher, John Murray, 15 December, 1840; C.J. La Trobe, “Letters from the Colony”, in The La Trobe Journal, No. 71, Autumn, 2003, p. 132.


In 1844, Georgiana McCrae produced a portrait of Agnes. On 15 December, 1850, La Trobe wrote informing Agnes, then back in Switzerland, that he was sending her sketches of Nellie, Cécile and Charley by her “kind old friend Mrs Andrew McCrae”; MS 13354, Box 3, La T. A. MS. Coll., SLV.


Martin Greenwood, ‘Catalogue and Biographies’, in Read and Barnes, Pre-Raphaelite Sculpture, pp. 142–43.


Diana Holman-Hunt, My Grandfather, His Wives and Loves, London, Hamish Hamilton, 1969, p. 40.


Read, ‘Thomas Woolner’, p. 21.


Ibid, p. 23.


Greenwood, ‘Catalogue and Biographies’, pp. 141–43.


Leonée Ormond, ‘Thomas Woolner and the Image of Tennyson’, in Read and Barnes, Pre-Raphaelite Sculpture, pp. 41–42, nn. 12, 13.


Read, ‘Thomas Woolner’, p. 22.


Ormond, ‘Thomas Woolner’, p. 40.


Some of these plaster medallions are preserved in the Pictures Collection of the State Library of Victoria: Charles Joseph La Trobe (H141489), Captain George Ward Cole (H10583) and Cole with his wife, Thomas Ann and son Farquhar (H26352) and James Clow (H36).


Diary of Thomas Woolner, August 9, October 11, 1854; AJCP M Series, MS 1926, Microfilm, La T. A. MS. Coll., SLV.


Read, ‘Thomas Woolner’, p. 23.


Juliet Peers, ‘Bernhard Smith: “The Missing Brother” in Read and Barnes, Pre-Raphaelite Sculpture, pp. 14–15.


Quoted in Ormond, ‘Thomas Woolner and the Image of Tennyson’, p. 42, n. 13.


Melbourne Morning Herald, 13 July 1853.


Dianne Reilly Drury, La Trobe: The Making of a Governor, Carlton, Victoria, Melbourne University Press, 2006, p. 187, n.19.


Peter Corlett, comments to the author, June, 2007.


Holman Hunt, quoted in Read, Victorian Sculpture, p. 183, n. 76.


Peers, ‘Bernhard Smith’, p. 13; Juliet Peers, ‘Beyond Captain Cook: Thomas Woolner in Australia’, in Read and Barnes, Pre-Raphaelite Sculpture, p. 37.


Letter dated July 10, 1853; Woolner, Thomas Woolner R.A., p. 61.


The technology was not brought to Melbourne until the 1970s although bronze foundries producing utilitarian articles such as brass taps, etc., had been operating in the colony in the previous century; information kindly supplied by Peter Corlett, June, 2007.


Information generously supplied by Dr Angus Trumble from a list he is in the process of compiling of all known versions of Woolner's Australian portrait medallions. See also Joanna Barnes, ‘Catalogues and Biographies’, in Read and Barnes, Pre-Raphaelite Sculpture, pp. 145, 147.


Marjorie J. Tipping, ‘Woolner, Thomas (1825–1892)’, in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Melbourne, Melbourne University Press, 1972, 6, pp. 438–9.


Edith Howitt fulfilled the expectations of a dutiful young woman at that time by stepping into her mother's shoes to run the household for her father and brothers.


This is clear from a series of 10 letters dating from between May 6 and July 1, 1855 by Phebe Howitt to her daughter, Edith, who was away at the time; Godfrey Howitt Papers, privately held.




The original plaster medallions remained in Melbourne although the portrait of Edith has not so far come to light; those of Godfrey, Phebe and Charley Howitt are still in the hands of family descendants. There is a bronze portrait of Edith, now in the National Gallery of Australia; a small scale replica in ivory came up at a Sotheby's sale, lot 103, on November 28, 2005. There is no evidence that Woolner portrayed the middle son, Edward, while the eldest, William Godfrey, was absent during those years studying medicine in London.


Read, ‘Thomas Woolner’, p. 27.


Alexander Kader, ‘Catalogue and Biographies’ in Read and Barnes, Pre-Raphaelite Sculpture, p. 141.