Figurative Sculptor – Margaret Wrightson

Margaret Jane Wrightson, born 1877 in Norton was the daughter of Sir Thomas Wrightson, marine engineer and magistrate.

The family had moved from Stockton to Norton Hall on the Green in the 1870s though they still retained their ‘town house’ on the High Street.

As a young child, Margaret showed promise in the arts and was encouraged by her father to pursue her interest. Margaret studied at the Royal College of Art under William Blake Richmond and Edouard Lanteri, it was here that she found her creative niche in sculpture. She exhibited her work at the Royal Academy 19 times, 26 pieces in total in between 1905 – 1921 and at the Walker Gallery in Liverpool.

The majority of her work was portrait busts and heads though she was also commissioned to do much larger pieces and completed several statues in the north east of England including ‘The Viking landing on the Northumberland Coast’ in 1925 for Sir Walter Runciman, sailor and ship-owner. The Viking stood proudly at Doxford Hall, Sir Runciman’s home in Northumberland until the house was purchased by Northumberland County Council in 1953, and the Viking was later re-sited at County Hall, Morpeth in 1981.

By the time her ‘Mary, Mary, Quite Contrary’ fountain was illustrated in the 1939 volume of RBS: Modern British Sculpture, Margaret was an RBS associate. The fountain was commissioned by Charles Vane-Tempest-Stewart, 7th Marquess of Londonderry and was modelled on his youngest daughter, Lady Mairi. The fountain, recently restored, can be seen within the grounds of Mount Stewart, the Irish seat of the Vane-Tempest-Stewart family.

Margaret Wrightson died 1976, aged 99 in London.

Did you know… The Wrightson family house on Stockton High Street is now owned by Manners & Harrison and still retains Margaret’s studio – a glass windowed garret over-looking the street.