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Thomas Alphonso Hayley, 1780–1800

William Hayley

Materials & Techniques:
Overall: 4 1/4 x 3 1/2 x 2 inches (10.8 x 8.9 x 5.1 cm)
Credit Line:
Yale Center for British Art, The Gift of Charles Ryskamp
Copyright Status:
Public Domain
Accession Number:
Paintings and Sculpture
Subject Terms:
biographer | face | head | man | poet | portrait
Associated People:
Hayley, William (1745–1820), poet and biographer
Not on view
IIIF Manifest:

Thomas Hayley was the illegitimate son of the poet William Hayley by Miss Betts, a housemaid. Encouraged by his father’s friends, including Joseph Wright of Derby and George Romney, he pursued a career as a sculptor and was apprenticed to John Flaxman in 1795 shortly after the sculptor’s return from Italy. In September 1795 he recalled in a letter: “in the beginning of this year, I modeled a small full-face medallion of my father, for which Mr. Romney did me the honour to give me five guineas.” This is almost certainly the portrait medallion Thomas described and is one of only two surviving pieces of sculpture from his hand; the other, a plaster medallion of George Romney, is now in the collection of the West Sussex Records Office, UK. Although Hayley lauded his son as a new Phidias, Thomas’s curvature of the spine had become debilitating by 1798. He returned to his father in Felpham, Sussex, and died aged nineteen before being able to fulfill his potential as a sculptor. He is shown alongside Flaxman in George Romney’s portrait 'John Flaxman modeling the bust of William Hayley' (Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Collection B1981.25.538).

Gallery label for installation of YCBA collection, 2014

Art in Focus : John Flaxman Modeling Bust of William Hayley (Yale Center for British Art, 2010-02-04 - 2010-05-30) [YCBA Objects in the Exhibition] [Exhibition Description]

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