There is something akin to romance in the rise of a farm boy to his being recognised as the greatest portrait sculptor of his time. Francis Chantrey was such a man.
Born in 1781 in the small Derbyshire village of Norton, now a suburb of Sheffield in South Yorkshire, Chantrey was apprenticed to a Sheffield firm of woodcarvers but did not complete his apprenticeship and set himself up initially in portraiture.
His work was carried out over a period of thirty years and developed alongside that of such artists as Turner, Raeburn, Lawrence, Wilkie, Constable and Landseer, all of whom helped to put British art at the forefront in Europe.
Great men of every facet of British life were immortalised by Chantrey - scientists, engineers, surgeons, physicians, writers, men of the church, politics and the services - even four monarchs. His genius matched theirs, but, in spite of his achievements and his fame, he never forgot his origins, the duties of his childhood or the county in which he was born.