The 19th century sculptor Richard Cockle Lucas (1800-1883) was born in Salisbury, the son of a cloth merchant. After studying with an uncle in Winchester, he became the student of Richard Westmacott, professor of sculpture at the Royal Academy. Lucas exhibited busts, medallions and mythological groups at the Royal Academy between 1829 and 1859.

He lived for most of his adult life in a house named ‘The Tower of the Winds’ in Chilworth, and was a friend of Lord Palmerston, who lived at nearby Broadlands.

David Lloyd (Buildings of England; Hampshire and the Isle of Wight) wrote: “Not much sculptural work by him seems to survive but what there is, is good”. He is best known locally for his statue of Isaac Watts - unveiled in 1861 - which still stands in West Park, and which Lloyd called “realistic and convincing”. One of his pieces was in 1909 mistaken for a work by Leonardo da Vinci. This was the wax bust of a girl entitled Flora, based on a painting of the same name by Leonardo. A number of experts assumed the bust to be by Leonardo too, but it was actually fashioned by Lucas in 1846.

He was undoubtedly very eccentric. He was in the habit of driving through Southampton in a vehicle which resembled a Roman chariot, dressed in a Roman toga. His most eccentric trait, however, was an apparently sincere belief in fairies, which he revealed to the world in a booklet, Hetty Lottie and the Proceedings of Little Dick; Showing How He Woo'd and Won a Fairy, published in 1875.

His son, Albert Durer Lucas (1828-1919), was also a notable artist; a number of his oil paintings are in Southampton Art Gallery. He lived at 50 Padwell Road in Southampton.

Richard Cockle Lucas

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Photographic self portrait, 1861

Further reading:

Southampton Occasional Notes, by ‘Townsman’, p60-61, 64-65. (HS/h)
Southampton People, by John Edgar Mann, p64-65. (HS/t)
Familiar and Forgotten, by Southampton City Art Gallery. (HS/t)
Buildings of England: Hampshire and the I.O.W., by Nikolaus Pevsner and David Lloyd, p558. (H/i)

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