Peter Scheemakers 1691 - 1781

Shakespeares monument in Westminister abbey

Peter Gaspar Scheemaker , was born in Antwerp. He was originally apprenticed without indenture to his father (also a sculptor)and spent three years about 1718 in Copenhagen with the court sculptor, J. C. Sturmberg

 He came to London about 1720 where he developed his career. In 1728 – 1730 he went to Italy to “improve his studies” – obviously to good effect.

In 1732  Dr Richard Mead, became Scheemaker’s patron. Commissions for Meed  included Scheemakers's evocative bust of William Harvey which Mead presented  to the Royal College of Physicians in 1739. In 1740 this sponsor used his influence to secure the contract that made Scheemakers's name, the memorial to Shakespeare for poets' corner in Westminster Abbey. Raised in time of war, this testament to a national hero won huge acclaim. In the following decade Scheemaker was prolific producing over thirty monuments including the statue of St John Barnard for the Royal Exchange

Mary Gardiner's monumentIn 1751 Scheemakers won his most lucrative contract, for the massive Shelburne monument (High Wycombe church, Buckinghamshire). Following illness  in 1759 he went into partnership with the architect James (Athenian) Stuart several major monuments designed by Stuart followed. Although Scheemakers was by now well into his seventies all work went out in his name until 1771, when he retired and returned to Antwerp He died there in 1781 and was buried on 12 September in Sint Jacobskerk.

Scheemakers, played a major role in popularizing a severe classical style, the prelude to the Greek revival. His moderate prices encouraged new clients from the professional and mercantile communities to order commemorative sculpture.

These included the monument to Mary Gardiner in St George Tombland. Click here for details