Nymph Preparing for the Bath

WAG 7262


This artwork has been identified as having links to a person connected with transatlantic slavery. This research is part of the Walker Art Gallery’s ongoing work to be more transparent about the collection’s relationship to Britain's colonial past. The first version of ‘Nymph preparing for the Bath’ was exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1837. It was acquired by Earl de Grey (1781 - 1859) for Wrest Park in Bedfordshire. Another version was carved for Lord Charles Townsend (dates unknown) and further marble and plaster versions are known. This version was commissioned by Henry Robertson Sandbach (1807 - 1895) and his wife Margaret (née Roscoe, 1812 - 1852). The statue was placed in the sculpture gallery at the Sandbach residence, Hafodunos Hall, near Abergele, North Wales, having been brought to Liverpool around 1841. The Sandbach family were part of the Sandbach, Tinne & Co. dynasty. They were shipowners, merchants, bankers, politicians and plantation owners. They exported sugar, coffee, cotton, timber, molasses and rum from the Caribbean. The company were prominent in Demerara, Berbice, and Essequibo in British Guiana, now known as Guyana. The Sandbachs became extremely wealthy through the enslavement, trafficking and forced labour of many tens of thousands of people. The family were also awarded large claims in compensation after the Slavery Abolition Act (1833). The Sandbach family were important patrons of leading Liverpool sculptor John Gibson (1790 - 1866). Wyatt and Gibson were friendly rivals in Rome and both were described by their contemporaries as the greatest British sculptors of the day. Gibson believed Wyatt had acquired ‘’the purest style" and that "no sculptor in England has produced female figures to be compared with those of Wyatt’’. Like Gibson, Wyatt spent most of his life in Rome, returning to Britain only once. He was a slow and careful worker and produced only a small number of finished marble works throughout his career.