Sir William Hamo Thornycroft RA British, 1850-1925

Hamo Thornycroft belonged to a family of sculptors. His father, Thomas, mother Mary and grandfather John Francis were all distinguished sculptors. Born in London, his brother John Isaac Thornycroft was a successful naval engineer, and their sister, Theresa, was the mother of the poet Siegfried Sassoon. Theresa and her sisters Alyce and Helen Thornycroft were all artists.

Thornycroft was one of the youngest artists to be elected to the Royal Academy, in 1882, the same year the bronze cast of Teucer (Tate Britain) was purchased for the British nation under the auspices of the Chantrey Bequest After 1884, Thornycroft's reputation was now secure and he received commissions for a number of major monuments, most notably the innovative General Gordon statue on London’s Victoria Embankment.  Thornycroft continued to be a central member of the sculptural establishment and the Royal Academy into the 20th century. He was knighted in 1917. 

Along side Alfred Gilbert (1854–1934), Edward Onslow Ford (1852–1901), Harry Bates (1850–99), Alfred Drury (1856–1944), Bertam Mackennal (1863–1931) and George Frampton (1860–1928), Thornycroft went on to be a pioneer in the phenomenon was what came to be termed the ‘Cult of the Statuette’. The New Sculpture movement disseminate rededuced-size bronze casts into the middle-class homes of London, a concept unknown in England, and indeed rarely seen in the Royal Academy as most sculpture exhibited was life-size in its format. The movement had links to concepts of the house beautiful and the home as a place where art could inspire or give expression to an aesthetic ideal. His work of the early 1880s helped catalyze sculpture in the United Kingdom toward developing new directions. He provided an important transition between the neoclassical and academic styles of the 19th century and its fin-de-siècle and modernist departures.