Joesph Boehm

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Sir Joseph Edgar Boehm, 1st Baronet, RA (Vienna, 6 July 1834 – 12 December 1890 London, England) Boehm was a medallist and sculptor, best known for the Jubilee head of Queen Victoria on coinage, and the statue of the Duke of Wellington at Hyde Park Corner. His oeuvre is substantial and he exhibited 123 works at the Royal Academy, from 1862 to his death in 1890. Boehm (originally “Böhm”) was born in Vienna of Hungarian parentage. His father, Joseph Daniel Böhm, was director of the imperial mint in Vienna. After studying the plastic art in Italy and at Paris, he worked for a few years as a medallist in Vienna. In 1856, he was presented with the Austrian Imperial Prize for Sculpture, the start of his distinguished career.

After a further period of study in England, he was so successful as an exhibitor at the 1862 International Exhibition that he decided to devote more time to portrait busts and statuettes, chiefly equestrian. He moved to England in 1862, and became a British subject three years later. A colossal statue of Queen Victoria, executed in marble (1869) for Windsor Castle, and the monument of the Duke of Kent in St George’s chapel, were his earliest great works, and so entirely to the taste of his royal patrons that he rose rapidly in favour with the court. In 1874 he completed a substantial statue of John Bunyan (1628–1688) which was unveiled on 10 June at St Peter’s Green, Bedford, by Lady Augusta Stanley, before a crowd of 10,000. He became an Associate of the Royal Academy in 1878, was appointed sculptor in ordinary in 1881 and was elected to the Royal Academy in 1882. In 1889 he was created a baronet, of Wetherby Gardens in the Parish of St Mary Abbots, Kensington, in the County of London. Boehm’s most famous pupil was the Princess Louise, Duchess of Argyll, daughter of Queen Victoria. She was at his house, at 76 Fulham Road in London, when Boehm died suddenly on 12 December 1890, provoking unsubstantiated press speculation about a sexual relationship between the two.

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