MUNRO, Alexander
(b. 1825, Inverness, d. 1871, Cannes)

Biography

Scottish sculptor, active in England. Son of a stone mason, the talented Alexander Munro was noticed by his father's wealthy employer, the Duchess of Sutherland, and brought to London in 1848 to study sculpture under Charles Barry. He exhibited at the Royal Academy from 1849-70, and in the Great Exhibition of 1851. Munro became a specialist in portrait sculpture, and in statues of children. He was close to the Pre-Raphaelites.

His works in London include the fountains in Berkeley Square and by Hyde Park Corner (Boy and Dolphin). In Birmingham is a statue of James Watt (1866) and, in the Museum, The Sleeping Child, one of his Great Exhibition works. In Oxford there is a medallion of Millais at the Ashmolean, and apparently architectural statuary on the University Museum.

Munro is one of five sculptors whose work can be considered to represent Pre-Raphaelitism in sculpture. He produced work in accord with the ideas of early Pre-Raphaelitism: like Thomas Woolner, the one sculptor who was a member of the actual Brotherhood, he made medallion portraits, of a formal purism that harks back to Italian Early Renaissance medals. In addition, his Paolo and Francesca depicts two intense-looking sharp-featured lovers from Dante - lovers who had particular importance in Rossetti's imagination and whom he depicted in one of his most famous early works.

Munro's later portrait busts have a formal simplicity and purism that relates to the theory of Pre-Raphaelitism, taking as models works of art from periods before a more developed maturity has pushed out that breath of juvenile springtime. Munro follows the hard-edge realism of Hunt and early Millais, and in a few works employs Rossettian subjects. Like Hunt, he remained faithful to his early vision throughout his career.