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 Felix Martin Miller  (fl. 1842-1880)

About: Felix Martin Miller
 

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Lived/Active: United Kingdom      Known for: sculpture

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This biography from the Archives of AskART:
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Felix Martin Miller

He was a prolific and admired sculptor throughout much of the Victorian era.  More than 100 pieces by him were seen at the galleries from 1842 to the last quarter of the century-chiefly works of imagination, drawn from literature, especially from Shakespeare and Milton.  These it is impossible here to particularize, so numerous and varied were they, but their beauty was universally acknowledged.  His portrait busts were fewer; they included Livingstone, the explorer (2), S. Coleridge, the poet, Dr. Raffles, the dead children of J. J. Mellor, represented as Death Like Sleep, in the spirit of Chantrey's famous group at Litchfield, a bust of Shakespeare and one of  Defiance.  Miller's Titania of 1853 was purchased by J. H. Foley as was also his Emily of Rylstone, the best evidence of the quality of this Sculptor's work. (Taken from Dictionary of British Sculptors - M H. Grant)

Miller, who had been left fatherless at an early age, was brought up at the London Orphan School and joined the Royal Academy Schools in 1842, on the recommendation of H. Weekes.   At the exhibition of suggested works of art for the Houses of Parliament, held three years later, he showed The Dying Briton and Orphans, the latter group being subsequently carved in marble and set up in the London Orphan Asylum.  Miller exhibited at the Royal Academy, 1842-1880, and at the British Institution, 1847-1866, showing busts of Dr. Livingstone (1857) and S. C. Coleridge (1862), and no less than three versions of Emily and the White Doe of Rylstone.  What must have been a singularly unfortunate work was a model of The Lover Overtasked, which could be adapted for a rose stand, though the Art Union thought it would serve even better as an ink stand.  At the Gt. Exhibition of 1851 the sculptor showed bas reliefs of Titania, The Spirit of Calm and Lycidas, while he sent the Indian Siesta to the International Exhibition of 1872.  His statue of The Archer was bought for New South Wales, but was later destroyed in a fire in Sydney.  His reliefs of Cruising Among the Water lilies (1868) and Ariel (1870) were illustrated in the Art Journal of 1872 and 1873 respectively.  In 1853 he carved the reredos for St. Barnabas's Church, Homerton and in 1869 made the monument to Edward Jordan for Kingston Cathedral, Jamaica.  J. Foley, R.A.  thought very highly of Miller and commissioned more than one of his works in marble, including Titania asleep in 1853.

When Foley died, the Art Journal (1874, page 306) wrote that 'the great artist was the principal patron of his struggling brother artist', and added that Miller was 'one of the few sculptors whose genius is manifest and who has produced works, chiefly bas-reliefs, that are unsurpassed by any productions of their class in modern art.  It is his evil fortune to obtain much praise with little success or recompense'. (Taken from Dictionary of British Sculptors 1660-1851 - Rupert Gunnis)

Supplementary Notes on 'Bas-Reliefs' at 3 Peter's Square
 
Felix Martin Miller b 1820.
Left fatherless at an early age, he was brought up at the London Orphan School. He was admitted to the RA schools on the recommendation of Henry Weekes in 1842.  At the exhibition of suggested works of art for the Houses of Parliament in 1845, he showed The Dying Briton and Orphans.  The latter was subsequently carved in marble and set up at the London Orphan Asylum.  He showed work at the Great Exhibition of 1851, and in 1853 carved the reredos for St Barnabas, Homerton.  His busts of David Livingstone (1856) and Samuel Taylor Coleridge (1862) are at the V&A.  He exhibited at the RA 1842-1880, and at the British Institution 1847-1856.

There are few, if any, of our sculptors who show so much real poetic feeling in works of this kind (bas-relief) as does Mr Miller; and we are surprised to know that his productions fail to meet with that encouragement their peculiar merits deserve. (The Art Journal, 1872, p 124, reviewing Cruising Among the Water Lilies, shown at the RA in 1868)
   
The contemporary critic SC Hall said of Miller, He is one of the few sculptors whose genius is manifest and who has produced works, chiefly bas-reliefs, that are unsurpassed by any productions of their class in modern art we shall do a good deed if we are the means of directing the attention of Art-patrons to an artist who in his special department is unsurpassed, but whose evil fortune it has been to obtain much praise with little substantial recompense. (The Art Journal, 1874, p 306)

Information compiled and provided by Roslyn Miller, third cousin four times removed of Felix Martin Miller.

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