Henry Hugh Armstead, R.A. 1828 - 1905
A compositional sketch for three sections of the 'History of the Shirleys' reliefs
Photo: R.A.
© Royal Academy of Arts, London
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A compositional sketch for three sections of the 'History of the Shirleys' reliefs, ca. 1858 - 62
pencil on cream wove paper, 254 X 110 mm
Given by Dr. Hugh Wells Armstead, 1932
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This set of preparatory drawings relates to Henry Hugh Armstead's designs for his reliefs depicting dramatic episodes from the history of the Shirley family at Ettington Park, Warwickshire. Ettington Park was built by John Prichard (then in partnership with J. P. Seddon) for Evelyn Shirley between 1858-62.

Armstead began his career designing silver presentation pieces such as the Outram Shield (V&A Museum) but began to concentrate on sculpture in the early 1860s. As was one of his first large-scale sculptural commissions this ambitious project was well-received at the time and brought Armstead's work to the attention of influential figures like Sir George Gilbert Scott. The large amount of preparatory drawings, in this group alone, gives some indication of the artist's commitment to the project. The drawings range from copious rough sketches, life drawings and studies of period detail to a set of large and carefully-executed tracings for eleven of the fourteen panels.