Peter Scheemakers - Encyclopedia

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PETER SCHEEMAKERS (1691-1770), Flemish sculptor, was born in Antwerp, and learnt his art from his father and from Delvaux. After visiting Denmark and walking thence to Rome for purposes of study, he returned on foot to the port of embarcation for England, but stayed in London but a short while. From 1728 to 1 735 he again sojourned in Rome and then settled in England, where he remained from 1735 to 1770, returning in the latter year to his native city where he died a few months afterwards. He worked for a time with Francis Bird, the pupil of Grinling Gibbons. Fifteen of his works - monuments, figures and busts - are in Westminster Abbey, two executed in collaboration with his master Delvaux: the "Hugh Chamberlen" (d. 1728, and therefore perhaps produced during his first visit to London) and "Catherine, duchess of Buckinghamshire." He is best, though not most creditably, known to fame by his monument to Shakespeare (1740), but as this work was designed by Kent the blame for the errors of taste therein displayed must not be laid to Scheemakers' account. In addition to these may be mentioned the monuments to Admiral Sir Charles Wager, Vice-Admiral Watson, Lieut.-General Percy Kirk, George Lord Viscount Howe, General Monck, and Sir Henry Belasye. His busts of John Dryden (1720) and Dr Richard Mead (1754), also in the Abbey, are among the best of his smaller works. The most important of his monuments elsewhere, as mentioned by Walpole, are those to the 1st and 2nd dukes of Ancaster .at Edenham, Lincolnshire; Lord Chancellor Hardwicke at Wimpole, Cambridgeshire; the duke of Kent, his wives and daughters, at. Fletton, Bedfordshire; the earl of Shelburne, at Wycombe, Bucks; and the figure on the sarcophagus to Montague Sherrard Drake, at Amersham. Although less esteemed as an artist than Rysbrack and Roubiliac, Scheemakers was a very popular and widely-employed sculptor in his day, whose influence was considerable; he was the master of Nollekens, and left a son, Thomas Scheemakers, who produced a considerable amount of work, and exhibited in the Royal Academy from 1782-1804.

See Walpole's Anecdotes of Painting, vol. 3 (ed. 1876), and Dictionary of National Biography.

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