Born at Norton, Derbyshire, Chantrey was initially apprenticed to a wood carver/gilder named Ramsay.  John Raphael Smith, the prominent mezzotint engraver,  was a frequent visitor to Ramsay's shop. He gave Chantrey drawing lessons so Chantrey started to paint portraits. In 1809, he exhibited a  Head of Satan at the Royal Academy, which led to commissions to make busts of Nelson and other admirals for Greenwich Hospital. A well-chosen marriage to his cousin Ann Wale brought  £10,000 to help to establish a good studio and purchase several  houses.

Chantrey achieved his first major success with a bust of the radical reformer, John Horne -Tooke (1811), and thereafter received commissions for portrait  busts, monuments and full-length portrait  statues, including George Washington, Boston, USA  (1826), William IV, Trafalgar Square (1829), and  Sir Thomas Munro, Madras (1838). Among his many  statues and monuments are the Sleeping Children  (1817) in Lichfield Cathedral, a series of  portraits in St Paul's Cathedral (including  Gillespie and Heber) and in Westminster Abbey  (including James Watt and Stamford Raffles),  William Pitt in Hanover Square and George IV in  Trafalgar Square (made originally for Marble  Arch). A Queen Victoria is in the National  Portrait Gallery. His George Washington is in Boston State House, USA.


Sir Francis Leggatt Chantrey
by John Raphael Smith
Date: probably 1818
Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington
pencil, 1822-1839
"The Iron Duke"
Apsley House, Hyde Park Corner, London
Chantrey was elected Associate Royal Academician in 1815 and a fellow of the Royal Academy in 1818. He exhibited at Royal Academy between 1804 and 1842. Chantrey was knighted in 1835.
In 1875, the Royal Academy received under Chantrey's will, a vast sum of money - £ 105,000. This was invested by five trustees, and the income each year was handed over to the Academy to purchase works of art - painting and sculpture - executed within the shores of Great Britain. The idea was to build up a national collection of British Art.
Studies in pencil for Chantrey's bust of John Fuller
John Fuller commissioned Chantrey to sculpt a bust to be placed in St Thomas church in Brightling. Completed in 1819 it shows Fuller in a "Romanesque pose" complete with toga. "Beneath this is a plaque by Henry Rouw with the inscription: 'Utile nihil quod non honestrum'--Nothing is of  use which is not honest. The choice of Chantrey to make the bust yet again illustrates how Fuller's great wealth enabled him to employ the very best of craftsmen." Huchinson, pp 94-95

It seems that Chantrey never forgot his humble origins. He was known as an animated raconteur who used strong language.  He believed that art was for all people to appreciate and enjoy and not to "baffle or patronize the layman"., Francis Chantrey Sculptor: From Norton to Knighthood, S. Dunkerley, p 114.

Chantrey sculpted memorials to some of John Fuller's relatives including Rev Stephen Sloane in St Nicholas Church, North Stoneham, Hampshire; Lt. Charles Baldwin Dyke Acland RN, died 1837 and Capt. Charles Richard Dyke Acland RN, died 1828 whose memorials are at All Saints, Selworthy, Somerset.
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Sir Francis Leggatt Chantrey -  Sculptor 1781-1841
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