Barnsley Sculptures

Tracey Hebron (Collections Clerk) explores some of the sculptures in the Barnsley Museums’ collections alongside those that you can see in the town centre.

The Veiled Lady

The Veiled Lady is without doubt one of the most popular items in the Cooper Gallery’s collection. She has been capturing the hearts and imaginations of its visitors for many years but still remains a woman of mystery. This sculpture is carved from marble and has an alabaster pedestal and a column shaped base and shows a young woman with a veil covering her head and face. Sadly there is no signature so it cannot be attributed to one particular artist.

This 19th Century unsigned bust, is carved in marble and shows a young woman with a veil covering her head and face. The features of her face, hair and shoulders are delicately obscured by the carving detail of the veil, this gives the subject a softer appearance and makes her all the more mysterious.

This life size bust sits upon a tall, narrow marble column which is around one meter in height.

There is just a hint of her shoulders, as the main focus is on the woman’s face. Her head is slightly tilted with her eyes looking towards the floor. She has a peaceful, almost contemplative expression on her face. Her hair is styled in a middle parting and tied in a bun towards the back of her head.

This remarkable sculpture was acquired by the Cooper family to be displayed in the Georgian setting of their country house, Cowick Hall near Goole. The sculptor Rafaelle Monti, based in Milan, was well-known for producing veiled ladies. The Coopers visited Milan in 1879 but there is no evidence amongst their receipts that they purchased this from him and unfortunately, the sculpture is unsigned. It is now thought to be the work of Giovanni Strazza.
The Veiled Lady

This piece was acquired by the Cooper family to be displayed in the Georgian setting of their country house, Cowick Hall near Goole. It is possible that she was inspired by the Veiled Lady or Bride by the sculptor Rafaella Monti who was based in Milan. The Coopers visited Milan in 1879 but there is no evidence amongst their receipts that they purchased this from him. Another possible sculptor is Giovanni Strazza. It is also possible to have been carved by the English School of artists, in the 19th century it was popular for art students to copy famous sculptures.

A photo of the inside of the cooper gallery which features the veiled lady next to other paintings

You can take a closer look at The Veiled Lady in this virtual tour of The Cooper Gallery,-.14&ss=125

As our research continues, we do know that the Veiled lady is an inspiration for many and was once featured in a painting by the late artist Paula Rego. In Study for The artist in her studio, a pipe smoking women is surrounded by sculptural props, to the left is a female head based on our very own Veiled lady. This was noted by Paula when paintings from her 1991-92 residency at the National gallery toured the country. Paula was quoted saying “ “It’s quite true that I showed my touring National Gallery pictures and drawings at the Cooper Art Gallery in Barnsley… I remember the carved bust of a veiled lady well.  It was a masterpiece, and I did do a drawing of it at the time.” Paula Rego, 1991

Listen to an audio description:

Dog With Boy and Puppies

Marble sculpture in the round of a young male figure in classical dress. There is a dog pulling at his clothing and he holds a puppy above his head.
‘Boy with Whippet and Pups’ by Joseph Gott

Currently on loan from the Trustees of the Cooper Gallery and on display at the Library@thelightbox, this stunning marble sculpture depicts a young boy in a classical toga, one shoulder bare, holding aloft a puppy, another dog pulls at the boys toga. The sculpture sits on an oval base. The sculptor Joseph Gott (1786-1860) was from the Leeds area and studied in London between 1798 – 1802. He entered the Royal Academy School in 1805. He later moved to Rome in 1822 where he remained for the rest of his life, sending works back home to be exhibited in the Royal Academy. Gotts work includes many animals, especially dogs with small children in Roman costume.  

Gott set up home at 155 Via Babuino, The Van Babuino is where Samuel Joshua Cooper purchased two cameos in the 1880s, could Mr Cooper have purchased this sculpture at the same time we wonder? One of the artists major patrons was a Mr George Banks, a wool merchant who was friends with Samuel Joshua Coopers father-in-law. It may also be possible that Mr Cooper acquired the work from George Banks. Many of Gotts work remain in private hands, however several pieces are in the collection of the Leeds Art Gallery.

The Collection 


The outside of the cooper gallery including the collection by Michael Johnson
‘The Collection’ by Michael Johnson

The Collection by Michael Johnson was made in 2001 and is a celebration of the Cooper Gallery Trustee’s collection of fine art.  Standing at 3.5 metres, the main stainless steel vertical panels of this piece rise out of a bronze base and are inspired by the gilt picture frames found in the collection. These frames surround 10 cast bronze panels with each panel representing a detail from selected paintings in the collection. For example, a birds nest can be seen that was inspired by Abel Hold’s work A Bird’s Nest and a tambourine is taken from Joseph Cot’s The Beggar Girls.  

Michael Johnson was born in Berwick-upon-Tweed, Northumberland and studied at Sheffield and Nottingham Schools of Art. He is a sculptor and one of the country’s most experienced public artists. His first commission was for the Duchy of Cornwall, a 25-foot sculptural work in the Jewellery quarter in Birmingham. He has since completed over 200 commissions throughout the UK. On completion of the sculpture for the Cooper gallery he said “ I have chosen paintings from the Cooper Gallery that I admire, some parts of the sculpture can be easily seen in the paintings, others are hidden and have to be looked for and thought about. I have been drawn to works that I feel show the hand of the artist as well as the eye”.  


Pan by Gertrude Spencer Stanhope is a striking bronze figure which depicts him seated and playing pipes. The work has a dark olive to black rich patina and is currently on display at Cannon Hall Museum. Pan is a figure from Greek Mythology, often depicted as not fully human in form, he has horns sprouting from his head. Associated with music and its magical powers he is created with inventing the panpipes.

A bronze figure of Pan playing pipes. The figure is a male fawn sitting on a tree trunk with ivy. It has a dark patina. Pan was from Greek mythology and was part human and part goat
Sculpture of Pan by Gertrude Spencer Stanhope

Gertrude Spencer Stanhope was the daughter of Sir Walter Spencer Stanhope of Cannon Hall. Her mother was Elizabeth Julia Buxton. She was one of eleven children. Her parents lead a very public life at Cannon Hall, entertaining prominent guests and socialising with wealthy neighbours and powerful friends. An ambitious woman, Gertrude wanted to see the world and travelled to Egypt. Gertrude was a talented artist, the niece of John Roddam Spencer Stanhope and cousin to Evelyn De Morgan, her artistic abilities were encouraged by her family. With a love of painting but a huge talent for sculpture she began sculpting in bronze and terracotta. She was inspired by mythological themes and stories from the Old Testament. For a woman to work as an artist at that time was incredible, especially as many women were being instructed to stick to traditional arts such as copying fruit and flowers. Gertrude spent the greater part of her life in Italy.

Barnsley’s War Memorial

The bronze Barnsley War Memorial that sits at the front of the Town hall depicts a serviceman wearing an overcoat and steel helmet, he is holding his rifle. An Inscription reads in honoured memory of the men and women of Barnsley who laid down their lives in the great war 1914-1918 – 1939-1945. This moving public art was unveiled by Lt. Gen. Sir Charles H. Harington on 11 October 1925. The town hall came later and was built in 1933.

The memorial at the time of unveiling covered in floral tributes
(c) Barnsley Archives – A photo from the unveiling of the memorial on October 11th 1925

The sculptor John Tweed (1869 – 1933), created this piece of art. He studied at the Glasgow School of Art and then went to London, where he first went to the Lambeth School of Art and then entered the Royal Academy School. He then went to Paris in 1893 as an assistant to Rodin. He went on to create a number of public statues including the memorial of Captain Cook in Whitby and The Kitchener Memorial in London. In 1895, he married Edith Clinton, secretary to the National Society for Women’s Suffrage to campaign for women’s right to vote.

The first image is an artist impression and doesn’t fully resemble the memorial which was eventually built. it’s also worth noting that the war memorial came before the current town hall which opened in December 1933. As these documents from Barnsley Archives show there were fundraising for the memorial that 100s of local people donated to before the sculpture was officially unveiled on 11th October 1925. Below is a list of people who helped to secure funds for the new memorial (Ref SY-744-Z)

Covid Memorial and Tribute To Key Workers

The bronze memorial sculpture of key workers
Barnsley’s Covid Memorial

Barnsley was one of the first towns across the country to commission a permanent COVID memorial sculpture. This work is a tribute to those who lost their lives and also acknowledges the admirable and inspirational contribution of key workers, volunteers and local communities during the pandemic crisis.  It is positioned in the heart of The Glass Works square in the town and depicts seven figures cast in bronze. The figures include a young girl, older man, volunteer, nurse, carer, police officer and a teacher – representing different generations and various communities.  Barnsley poet Ian McMillan wrote a powerful phrase to be engraved on the plinth, Barnsley’s fierce love holds you forever in its heart.

Born in Barnsley, Graham Ibbeson, lovingly known as the “The People’s Sculptor”, has been a professional sculptor since graduating from the Royal College of Art in 1978. He has created bronze sculptures in towns and cities across Britain including the statue of comedian Eric Morecambe, which stands in the performer’s seaside hometown of Morecambe, and was unveiled by the Queen.  Laurel and Hardy in Laurel”s home town of Ulverston and his most recent creation Kes which is situated outside the Alhambra shopping centre

In 2022 Graham Ibbeson had an exhibition at The Cooper Gallery, ‘High Noon To Midnight’ although the physical exhibition has closed you can continue to take a virtual tour

See even more sculptures from collections across the U.K on the Art UK website

Have you read our recent blogs?


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