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John Birnie Philip (23 November 1824 - 2 March 1875) was a notable Englishmarker sculptor of the 19th century.

He studied at the Government School of Design at Somerset Housemarker in Londonmarker, and from 1852 carried out ornamental stone carving for Sir George Gilbert Scott.

His public sculpture commissions included, with Henry Hugh Armstead (1828–1905), the podium frieze (the Frieze of Parnassusmarker) on the Albert Memorialmarker in London's Hyde Parkmarker (1864-1872), where he was responsible for the architects (including an image of Scott) and sculptors, as well as allegorical statues of geometry, philosophy, geology, physiology, and angels on the spire.

Elsewhere in London, he also produced allegorical figures ('Art', 'Law', 'Commerce', etc) for the front of the Foreign and Commonwealth Officemarker on Whitehallmarker, eight figures of monarchs for the Royal Gallery in the Palace of Westminstermarker (1868-1869), the 'young woman in classical drapery floating forward on a small cloud' atop a drinking fountain in West Smithfieldmarker Square (1870) and decorations on the piers of Blackfriars Bridgemarker.

His works in churches and cathedrals can be found in

Often commissioned to produce commemorative municipal works, Philip also produced a statue of humanitarian Richard Oastler, now situated in Northgate, Bradfordmarker, and a statue of the Reverend Robert Hall in De Montfort Square, Leicestermarker.

He exhibited at the Royal Academymarker from 1858 almost up to his death of bronchitis at the age of 48 (in 1874 Philip was paid £312 for carving 'the Relievos etc.' on the entrance porch at the Academy's Burlington Housemarker). With his wife Frances (nee Black), whom he married in 1853, he had ten children, including a daughter Beatrix who in 1888 married artist James Whistler. Another daughter, Constance, also married an artist, Cecil Gordon Lawson.

Whistler connections

Several of Philip's family retained close links with Whistler. Youngest daughter Rosalind acted as his companion, model, secretary and house-keeper after Beatrix's death, and was appointed Whistler's executrix at his death. Son Ronald accompanied him on a trip to Gibraltarmarker, Algiersmarker, Tangiersmarker, Marseillesmarker and Corsicamarker. Beatrix, Ronald and Rosalind all acted as models at different times for Whistler, as did their mother Frances.


  1. John Birnie Philip (1824-1875)
  2. From: 'Burlington House', Survey of London: volumes 31 and 32: St James Westminster, Part 2 (1963), pp. 390-429. URL: Date accessed: 06 November 2006
  3. Biography for: John Birnie Philip

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