Portrait of Scheemakers by Andreas Bernardus de Quertenmont
16 January 1691|
|Died||12 September 1781
|Works||Church monuments around England, notably William Shakespeare and John Dryden memorials, Poets' Corner|
Peter Scheemakers (16 January 1691 – 12 September 1781) was a Flemish Roman Catholic sculptor who worked for most of his life in London, Great Britain. Scheemakers is perhaps best known for executing the William Kent-designed sculpture of William Shakespeare which was erected in Poets' Corner in Westminster Abbey, London, in 1740, as well as that to John Dryden in the same church.
He learned his art from his father and from Delvaux. After visiting Denmark, he walked to Rome where he studied both classical and baroque styles of sculpture before settling in London in 1716. From 1728 to 1735, he again sojourned in Rome and then settled in England, where he remained from 1735 to 1770. He worked for a time with Francis Bird, and was the teacher of Joseph Nollekens, amongst others. Towards the end of his life, he returned to Antwerp where he had been born, and died there. Scheemakers' brother, Henry Scheemakers, and his son, Thomas Scheemakers, were both also sculptors.
Fifteen of Scheemakers' works — monuments, figures and busts — are in Westminster Abbey; two were executed in collaboration with his master Delvaux: the “Hugh Chamberlen” (d. 1728, and therefore perhaps produced during his first visit to London) and “Catherine, duchess of Buckinghamshire.” He is best known by his monument to Shakespeare (1740), but as this work was designed by Kent the responsibility must not all be laid to Scheemakers' account. In addition to these, there are the monuments to Admiral Sir Charles Wager, Vice-Admiral Watson, Lieut.-General Percy Kirk, George Lord Viscount Howe, General Monck, and Sir Henry Belasye. His busts of John Dryden (1720) and Dr. Richard Mead (1754), also in the Abbey, are noted examples of his smaller works.
Other English works
Works outside of Westminster Abbey are memorials to the 1st and 2nd dukes of Ancaster at Edenham, Lincolnshire; Lord Chancellor Hardwicke at Wimpole, Cambridgeshire; the duke of Kent, his wives and daughters, at Fletton, Bedfordshire; the earl of Shelburne, at Wycombe, Bucks; and the figure on the sarcophagus to Montague Sherrard Drake, at Amersham. Another example of his work is the memorial to Topham Foote (or Foot) in the parish church of St John the Baptist, Windsor. This burial monument, which includes the young man's bust and the Foote family crest, greets visitors in the main High Street entrance, just 300 feet (90 m) from the Henry VIII gate to Windsor Castle. He also sculpted a memorial for the Petty family, marking the family burial place in All Saints Parish Church, High Wycombe, which depicts the family in Roman dress, and designed the gilded equestrian statue of King William III erected at Kingston upon Hull (1734).
Between 1970 and 1993, an image of Scheemakers's Shakespeare statue appeared on the reverse of Series D £20 notes issued by the Bank of England. Alongside the statue was an engraving of the balcony scene from Romeo and Juliet.
- "Poets' Corner: William Shakespeare". Westminster Abbey.
- "John Dryden". Poets' Graves. Retrieved 2008-10-22.
- Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Scheemakers, Peter". Encyclopædia Britannica (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press
- Hayton, David (2005). Letters of Marmaduke Coghill, 1722–1738. Dublin: Irish Manuscripts Commission. p. xxii. ISBN 9781874280682.
- "What Did Shakespeare Look Like?". The Shakespeare Birthplace Trust. Retrieved 2008-10-17.
- "Withdrawn Banknotes Reference Guide". Bank of England. Retrieved 2008-10-22.