Nathaniel Hitch and the making of church sculpture

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Housed at the Henry Moore Institute in Leeds is the archive of the little-known sculptor Nathaniel Hitch (1845–1938). This comprises hundreds of studio photographs, which collectively and individually provide significant insight into a hitherto neglected branch of Victorian sculpture: church sculpture. Changing attitudes to religion from the 1840s onwards created conditions that enabled sculptors such as Hitch to establish successful local and international practices specializing in ecclesiastical work, from ornamental pew ends to free-standing polychrome figurative sculpture. Examining the ecclesiastical dimension of nineteenth-century British sculpture complicates and extends our current understanding of sculpture in the period, by presenting alternative models of education, style, subject matter, sculptural precedents, studio practice, and practices of making to the current centrality of ideal classical sculpture and of the New Sculpture in the scholarship. It allows for the integration of different types of sculptors and sculpture within the study of Victorian sculpture, and prompts investigation into the influence of specifically Christian and British values and concerns on what was still essentially a classical medium.
Original languageEnglish
Article number1697
Number of pages26
Journal19: interdisciplinary studies in the long nineteenth century
Issue number22
Publication statusPublished - 22 Jun 2016


  • Art history
  • Sculpture history
  • Church history
  • Victorian studies


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