Anne Seymour-Damer was an English artist, whose personality was influenced by the Enlightenment movement, she was an author, traveller, theatrical producer and actress, but she is best known for being an acclaimed sculptress.
Seymour-Damer was born in an aristocratic family, she was the only daughter of Field-Marshal Henry Seymour Conway and his wife Caroline Bruce, her family offered to her the opportunity to be trained in sculpture by Giuseppe Ceracchi and John Bacon. However, she had to face many problems because by that time women were not allowed to study human anatomy (training in life drawing), a common problem of the women artists of her generation.
In 1767 she married John Damer, the son of Lord Milton, who gave to the couple an income of £5,000 and were left large fortunes by both families. After seven years of an unfortunate married, since it was not a marriage for love, she separated from him what was a reason for public censure. But a far worse scandal came two years later, in 1776, in a park near convent garden, after long night of entertainment with four prostitutes he shot himself leaving considerable debts.
Seymour-Damer only developed her artistic career during her widowhood. And during then the years 1784-1818, she exhibited 32 works as an honorary exhibitor at the Royal Academy. Primarily her work follows the Neoclassical style, developed from early wax sculptures to technically complex ones in terracotta, bronze or marble.
She produced the keystones sculptures of Isis and Thames for each side of the central arch on the bridge at Henley-on-Thame. The original models are in the Henley Gallery of River and Rowing Museum nearby. Even though these sculptures don’t receive too much attention from people who pass by, they represent the story of what a woman had to risk and withstand to pursue her dream and leave her mark as an artist.
- Her father was a statesman who employed the philosopher David Hume as his secretary.
- She was described by Horace Walpole as a ‘female genius’.
- She was buried in the church at Sundridge, Kent along with her sculptor’s tools and apron and the ashes of her favourite dog.