James Legg

The first work of art to appear in the new brick arched vaults which now lead the visitor from the Cast Corridor of the Royal Academy Schools through to the front entrance hall of Burlington House was the crucified figure of an elderly Irish Chelsea pensioner called James Legg. It first appeared wrapped in a plastic bag:-


The work was produced as a result of an argument between Benjamin West, the then President of the Royal Academy, Thomas Banks, the sculptor, and Richard Cosway, the miniature painter as to what a crucified figure looked like in its anatomy. They commissioned Joseph Constantine Carpue, a surgeon, to acquire a corpse, so they could find out. He acquired the corpse of Legg who was hanged on 2 November 1802, the body was cast by Thomas Banks shortly thereafter, and has been used to teach students in the RA Schools ever since:-






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