Edward Bowring Stephens ARA
Born 10 December 1815
Died 10 November 1882
Active: 1835 - 1881
Country of birth and death: England
Born in Exeter, Devon. He was the son of James Stephens (1777–1849), a statuary mason. Stephens began his training as a painter with John Gendall but then moved to London and became a pupil of Edward Hodges Baily (1835). In 1837 he entered the Royal Academy Schools. Stephens exhibited regularly at the Royal Academy from 1838 and also showed work at the British Institution (1838-58). Between 1839-42 he worked in Rome afterwards returning to London to continue his studies at the Royal Academy Schools. On 24 July 1845 he married Jane Harris Emes (b. 1814 in Crediton, Devon), daughter of James Emes, a serge manufacturer. She is listed as 'Sculptor Wife' in Census Returns of 1871.
Stephens retained close connections to the west country throughout his career and executed a number of important commissions in Devon. These include a statue of the politician and philanthropist, Sir Thomas Dyke Acland, for Northernhay Gardens, Exeter (1861), Hugh, second Earl Fortescue (1863), John Dinham (1864), Alfred Rooker (1878), and William, 11th Earl of Devon (1879). In 1865 he carved two statues for the west front of Exeter Cathedral and in 1870 donated a statue of Albert, the Prince Consort (1868) to the recently opened Royal Albert Memorial Museum, Exeter. His important bronze group 'The deerstalker' was purchased by public subscription and erected in Northernhay Gardens, Exeter in 1878.
Among his more notable works in London are the statues of Leonardo da Vinci, Christopher Wren and Sir Joshua Reynolds for the facade of Burlington House. Stephens was closely involved with the Institute of Sculptors and was its honorary secretary c.1861. He died at his home, 110 Buckingham Palace Road, London.
Wealth at death: £1,566 0s. 4d.
Probate date: 4 January 1883
Dates are usually the year a work was exhibited so may differ from date of production.
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The Death of Abel
Blackberry Picking: The Thorn
Telling a Secret
Exhibitions, Meetings, Awards and other Events
Exhibited at The International Exhibition, London, 1862
'Evening - Going to the Bath'
Exhibited at Royal Manchester Institution, Exhibition of the Works of Modern Artists, 1874
'A Wrestler Ready for the Grip'
Exhibited at The Exhibition of the Royal Academy of Arts (Summer Exhibition), 1768-
1838 - 1881
Exhibited 41 times (30 times from 1851), showed an average of at least two works per year, often ideal works and figure groups, one work show posthumously in 1883.
Exhibited at Great Exhibition of the Works of Industry of all Nations (London), 1851
Exhibited at Fine Art and Industrial Exhibition (Cardiff), 1870
16 August 1870 - 1 October 1870
Exhibited at Liverpool autumn exhibition of modern pictures: the tenth (Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool), 1880
Blackberry Picking - 'The Thorn' (cat. no. 1068, £420).
Institutional and Business Connections
Elected ARA Royal Academy of Arts
20 July 1864
See Popp and Valentine, 'Royal Academy of Arts Directory of Membership', (1996), p. 113.
Honorary secretary of Institute of British Sculptors
And member of Council
Lectured at Royal Academy Schools
10 February 1879 - 1880
Delivered two lectures on sculpture at the Royal Academy Schools in February 1879, whilst the post of Professor of Sculpture lay vacant, and two lectures in 1880. See Royal Academy 'Annual Reports'.
Member of Institute of British Sculptors
1856 (Circa) - 1861 (Circa)
Studied at Royal Academy Schools
7 December 1836
G. Popp and H. Valentine note that 'according to Gunnis he [Stephens] won a Royal Academy Schools Silver Medal in 1843 and re-entered the Schools in 1842. The Premiums Register lists only a Gold Medal in 1843'. See Popp and Valentine, 'Royal Academy of Arts Directory of Membership', (1996), p. 113.
Visitor at Royal Academy Schools
Listed as a Visitor to the Life School. See Royal Academy 'Annual Reports'.
Worked with Art Union of London
To reproduce 'Little Boat Builder' in parian ware
Personal and Professional Connections
May be connected to William John Seward Webber
Both artists studied at different times with the Exeter based artist John Gendall. Edward Bowring Stephens continued to work in his home town (Exeter) after he had established a successful practice in London. So he may have had contact with (or actively supported) Webber when the latter was studying art in Exeter during the 1860s.
Pupil of Edward Hodges Baily
Descriptions of Practice
Listed under Sculptors Post Office London Directory, 1851 Post Office/Kelly London Directories
Listed under Sculptors Post Office London Directory, 1860 Post Office/Kelly London Directories
Listed under Sculptors Post Office London Directory, 1880 Post Office/Kelly London Directories
Occupation given in Census Returns of England and Wales, 1871
'Sculptor ARA' and his wife Jane Harris Stephens is listed as 'Sculptor Wife'
Occupation given in Census Returns of England and Wales, 1881
A Biographical Dictionary of Sculptors in Britain, 1660-1851
Catalogue of the Exhibition of the Works of Modern Artists, City of Manchester Art Gallery, 1874
Cat. No. 693, 701, pp. 63, 64, 76
Census Returns of England and Wales, 1871
Class: RG10; Piece: 113; Folio: 5; Page: 1; GSU roll: 838766
Census Returns of England and Wales, 1881
Class: RG11; Piece: 108; Folio: 63; Page: 21;GSU roll: 1341025
England & Wales, FreeBMD Birth Index, 1837-1915
Death registered Oct-Nov-Dec 1882, St George Hanover Square, London, Vol. 1a, p. 290
England & Wales, National Probate Calendar (Index of Wills and Administrations),1858-1966
Name: Edward Bowring Stephens Probate Date: 4 Jan 1883 Death Date: 10 Nov 1882 Death Place: Middlesex, England Registry: Principal Registry
Oxford Dictionary of National Biography
R. E. Graves, ‘Stephens, Edward Bowring (1815–1882)’, rev. Caroline Worthington, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004 [http://www.oxforddnb.com/view/article/26381, accessed 2 Dec 2009]
Rules of the Institute of Sculptors
The Builder, Vol. 18, 28 July 1860
28 July 1860
Citing this record
'Edward Bowring Stephens ARA', Mapping the Practice and Profession of Sculpture in Britain and Ireland 1851-1951, University of Glasgow History of Art and HATII, online database 2011 [http://sculpture.gla.ac.uk/view/person.php?id=msib5_1227191992, accessed 30 Sep 2014]