'William Hammerton', John Gibson

This monument is described below.

Accession number WAG9842

William Hammerton bequeathed money to the Bluecoat Hospital, the School for the Blind and other charitable institutions in Liverpool, and lived close to the Oratory in prestigious Rodney Street.

His monument shows a needy mother and her children being given food by a young man, but if this figure is intended to be Hammerton himself then it is a highly idealised portrait of the sixty-three year old philanthropist. Two 19th century engravings of the sculpture were published under the title ‘Charity’, and the monument is probably intended as a general illustration of this virtue rather than a portrait of the deceased.

Gibson’s treatment of this potentially sentimental subject is noticeably severe: the mother’s face is haggard, the man looks purposeful rather than openly compassionate and the classical dress of the figures adds gravity to the scene. The plain background and simple Grecian pediment above provide an appropriate setting for such a composition.

All this is in marked contrast to Macbride’s treatment of the similar sickbed scene on his monument to Dr Stevenson| of about twenty years later. The change from Greek Revival restraint to Victorian sentiment is unmistakable.