John Henry Foley

Ireland, b.1818, d.1874

Caractacus

  • Christchurch Art Gallery Trust Collection
  • Bronze
  • 810 x 410 x 305mm
  • L96/15
  • 1860

Caractacus is the name the Romans gave to Carador, the King of an ancient British tribe in South Wales from 43 to 50 AD, who had initially fought successfully against the invading Roman armies. When he was eventually captured, Claudius, the Emperor, was so impressed by the warrior king that he granted his release. This type of noble subject, with classical connections, was very popular in Victorian Britain. John Foley has worked in the classical style favoured by the British and French Academies. Foley was born in Dublin, the son of a grocer. He studied art at the Royal Society School, Dublin, where he was highly successful and, in 1834, gained entry to the Royal Academy Schools in London. Foley had notable success as a sculptor and produced over 60 statues, busts and monuments. He was a favourite of Queen Victoria and was commissioned by her to make his most celebrated work, the Albert Memorial, in Hyde Park, London. Unfortunately he caught a chill working on the Memorial and died before it was completed.