'William Ewart', Joseph Gott

This shows William Ewart sitting with crossed legs, holding a book.

Accession number WAG9846

Joseph Gott was the Yorkshire counterpart of John Gibson. Like Gibson, he spent most of his working life in Rome and found his most sympathetic patrons among the merchants and industrialists to the north of England.

William Ewart, the son of a Scottish minister from Dumfries, settled in Liverpool and became a prosperous merchant. He gave his name to William Ewart Gladstone, the Liverpool-born Prime Minister, whose father was a close friend. It seems that his commission for his monument came to Joseph Gott in 1827 through a family connection: Margaret Ewart, William’s daughter, was married to the son of Benjamin Gott, a great Leeds woollen manufacturer and the sculptor’s second cousin. The preparation of models and agreement of a design took until 1832, but the marble was then completed within the year.

Unlike Gibson’s reliefs of seated figures with their classical draperies and restrained, formal poses Ewart is presented naturalistically. He sits cross-legged and comfortable in an arm chair, and rather than seeming rapt in meditation he looks out at the viewer, eagerly expounding something from the paper he holds.

Naturalism and informality are most obvious in the treatment of his dress: the buttons and creases of his coat, the wrinkled stockings and the dangling slipper. The right hand seems originally to have held a pair of spectacles.