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ID number:  BIRRC-A0159
Institution:  Research and Cultural Collections
Named collection:  Campus Collection of Fine and Decorative Art
Artist / Maker:  Williamson, F. J.
Title / Object name:  Thomas Pretious Heslop
Object type:  Sculpture
Culture:  British
Date made:  1884-5
Materials:  Marble
Measurements:  74.93 cm

Thomas Heslop was a Birmingham physician who taught at Queen’s College, Birmingham where he was Professor of Physiology 1853-1858. He was also the first chairman of Mason Science College, incorporated into Birmingham University in 1900. In his last years he donated over 11,000 books to Mason College Library to form a major part of the foundation collection of the new University. In recognition of this, the Special Collections reading room is named after him. Mason College commissioned this bust shortly after Heslop’s death. Williamson was a prolific portrait sculptor, with works including the statue of Joseph Priestley in Chamberlain Square, Birmingham, and many busts of members of the Royal Family commissioned by Queen Victoria. Williamson carved the pediment sculpture over the entrance to Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery. This bust shows Heslop cloaked ‘all’antica’, that is, in a robe which recalls those worn by Roman Emperors or statesmen. He has a kindly and open face which fits with his public image as a philanthropist and benefactor of medical and educational charities, while his large forehead suggests a powerful intellect.

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