John Robert Steell Sir
Born 18 September 1804
Died 15 September 1891
Active: 1827 - 1889
Country of birth and death: Scotland
Born in Aberdeen and raised in Edinburgh. He was the son of the woodcarver and gilder, John Steell (fl. 1800-29) and the elder brother of the animal painter, Gourlay Steell. John Robert was apprenticed to his father as a woodcarver and also studied at the Trustees School of Design. In 1829 he spent several months studying in Rome.
In the 1820s Steell was elected an associate of the Royal Institution for the Encouragement of the Fine Arts in Scotland and became a member of the Royal Scottish Academy on the amalgamation of the institution and the Scottish academy in 1829. In 1838 the honorary position of sculptor-in-ordinary to her majesty for Scotland was created for him. He was knighted for his services to Scottish art in 1876. He lived in retirement from 1887 and there was a public sale of all his models and studio effects in 1888.
Dates are usually the year a work was exhibited so may differ from date of production.
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Sir Walter Scott
Exhibitions, Meetings, Awards and other Events
Exhibited at The International Exhibition, London, 1862
'Miss Florence Nightingale'
Exhibited at The Exhibition of the Royal Academy of Arts, The Eighty-Fourth, 1852
'Marble bust of the Most Notable Marquess of Dalhousie, Governor-General of India'
Exhibited at Royal Academy of Art: The Exhibition of Scottish Art, 1939
Work shown posthumously, p. 101 (226)
Exhibited at The Royal Scottish Academy Exhibition, 1826-
1827 - 1926
Exhibited at the annual exhibition 27 times: 1827 (1 work), 1828 (1 work), 1829 (2 works), 1830 (1 work), 1831 (3 works), 1832 (1 work), 1836 (6 works), 1838 (8 works), 1841 (2 works), 1844 (1 work), 1849 (1 work), 1852 (2 works), 1855 (5 works), 1857 (3 works), 1859 (1 work), 1860 (1 work), 1862 (2 works), 1863 (5 works), 1864 (1 work), 1865 (1 work), 1867 (4 works), 1877 (1 work), 1879 (3 works), 1880 (1 work), 1889 (1 work), 1916 (2 works) and 1926 (2 works)
Exhibited at The Exhibition of the Royal Academy of Arts (Summer Exhibition), 1768-
1837 - 1876
Exhibited 6 times (twice from 1851), one to two works each time, usually portrait busts.
Exhibited at Great Exhibition of the Works of Industry of all Nations (London), 1851
Institutional and Business Connections
Advisor to Edinburgh Association for the Promotion of the Fine Arts
Helped to devise the constitution with the aim of fostering a Scottish school of painting.
Committee member of The School of the Board of Manufacturers
Elected RSA The Royal Scottish Academy
Personal and Professional Connections
Assistant was David Watson Stevenson
1865 - 1876
Assisted Steell on the Monument to Prince Albert, Edinburgh. Stevenson executed the Science and Learning groups himself.
Descriptions of Practice
Listed under Sculptors Edinburgh & Leith Post-Office Directory 1850-1851
Listed under Sculptors Edinburgh & Leith Post-Office Directory 1860-1861
Listed under Sculptors Edinburgh & Leith Post-Office Directory 1870-1871
Listed under Sculptors Edinburgh & Leith Post-Office Directory 1880-1881
Listed under Sculptors Edinburgh & Leith Post Office Directory 1890-1891
Edinburgh & Leith Post Office Directory 1890-1891
Edinburgh & Leith Post-Office Directory 1870-1871
25 May 1870
Edinburgh & Leith Post-Office Directory 1880-1881
Oxford Dictionary of National Biography
R. E. Graves, ‘Steell, Sir John Robert (1804–1891)’, rev. Robin L. Woodward, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004; online edn, Oct 2005 [http://www.oxforddnb.com/view/article/26352, accessed 21 Dec 2009]
Citing this record
'John Robert Steell Sir', 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=msib6_1213625443, accessed 25 Mar 2017]