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Joseph Bentley Leyland

(1811—1851) sculptor


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Sculptor friend of Branwell Brontë, with a studio in Swan Coppice, Halifax, where Branwell first met him, probably in 1839. Through Leyland and his family Branwell found an entrée into the local Halifax circle of writers and artists, which included William Dearden, George Hogarth, John Nicholson, and John Wilson Anderson. Leyland had gained an early success in London, Manchester, and Leeds but, like Branwell, his promising talent was unfulfilled, he was constantly in debt and he died an alcoholic only three years after Branwell. He is best remembered for his statue of Dr Beckwith in York Minster, and for a sculpted group of African blood-hounds. The Brontës would have seen Leyland's group of English greyhounds and his huge sculpted head of Satan (before it achieved critical acclaim in London) at the 1834 Leeds exhibition of the Royal Northern Society for the Encouragement of the Fine Arts, at which the young Charlotte Brontë also exhibited two pencil drawings (see art of the brontës). His portrait medallion of Branwell can be seen at the BPM (a photograph of it is reproduced as a frontispiece in Gérin BB). Leyland often worked with John Brown, the Haworth stonemason and confidant of Branwell, on commissions for local churches and memorials, such as the commission to design and execute the memorial tablet to the Haworth curate, Revd William Weightman (now in Haworth church), which Branwell was instrumental in securing for Leyland.

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From The Oxford Companion to the Brontes in Oxford Reference.

Subjects: Literary Studies (19th Century).


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