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Obituary for Robert Ball Hughes

From the Boston Daily Evening Transcript, Friday, March 6, 1868: 

"Mr. Robert Ball Hughes, who died at Dorchester on the 5th inst., was an artist of unquestionable genius and a genial and exceedingly social gentleman. The “Dead Christ” in the Roman Catholic Church at South Boston, which burnt a few years since, and the bronze statue of Bowditch at Mount Auburn, have been regarded as among his best works; but his “Uncle Toby,” “Little Nell,” and other productions, have likewise received the commendation their excellence of conception and execution merited. His “poker sketches,” so called, were unique and curious, and full of strength and grace. Some of them were admirable as portraits. His “Fisher Boy” was also “a thing of beauty.” For some time past he has given nothing elaborate to the public; but he will be remembered for several of his efforts as occupying a foremost place among modern sculptors. Mr. Hughes was born in London, but had spent a large part of his life in this country, where he made many friends, who found him abounding in anecdote and information, possessed of remarkable taste and skill in his profession. Pure-minded and single-hearted, he was kind, generous and hospitable,--an affectionate husband and father. He was a pupil of Flaxman and Bailey [sic], and a member of the Royal Academy [sic]. The Duke of Devonshire showed his appreciation of his talents by becoming the owner of his “Oliver Twist.”"


    This obituary can be found at the Google News Archive for the Boston Daily Evening Transcript, Friday, March 6, 1868, on page 2, at the top of column 6, under “LOCAL INTELLIGENCE." This obituary was partially quoted in  The New England Historical & Genealogical Register For the Year 1868, Vol. XXII, p. 185. Part of the first sentence and one complete sentence starting with “For some time past…” were omitted. See the Biography page for the text of that article.


    Note that even at the time of Ball Hughes' death, there was inaccuracy about his being a member of the Royal Academy. I previously thought that this occurred many years later when descendants in the Brown family may have assumed that he was an “R.A.” See the Sketch of the Life of Robert Ball Hughes for more information.
    Another obituary from: The Art-Journal, Volume 7, London: Virtue & Co., 1868, pp. 128-129 (based on the New York Tribune obituary): 
"R BALL HUGHES This sculptor, whose reputation is exclusively limited to America, the country of his adoption, died at Boston, U. S. on the fifth of March, at the age of sixty-two. He was born in London, in January, 1806, and, says the New York Tribune, showed "very early a talent for sculpture ... Fortunately, his father was willing that child's natural bent should be regarded, and placed him for instruction with the late E. H. Baily, R. A., in whose studio he remained for seven years. During this time he gained several important prizes in competition. The Society of Arts and Sciences awarded him its silver medal for a copy of the
Barbarini Faun ; and the Royal Academy gave him the large silver medal for the best copy, in bas-relief, of the Apollo, the silver medal for the best original model from life, and a gold medal for an original composition, 'Pandora brought to Earth
Mercury.' He soon had many commissions, and while he was busy with them he became acquainted with certain Americans, who induced him to emigrate to New York. He came over in 1829, and his first work of importance was the statue of Alexander Hamilton for the Merchants' Exchange. His most important work in this country was, on the whole, his bronze statue of Nathaniel Bowditch, which is now Mount Auburn."
Mr Hughes exhibited his bas-relief 'Pandora brought to Earth' at the Royal Academy in 1824 ; the following he year contributed a statue of Achilles in Achilles ; in 1826, busts of the Duke of Sussex and the Duke of Wellington ; and in 1828, a statue of ' Shepherd Boy.' His last work exhibited in London was, if we are not mistaken, a statue of Oliver Twist, in the American department of the International Exhibition of 1851 ; it was purchased by the late Duke of Devonshire."
last update 11/7/2012
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