Information drawn from the internet including wikipedia and from Rothamsted Research
Sir Charles Bennet Lawes-Wittewronge, 2nd Baronet (3 October 1843 – 6 October 1911) was born at Teignmouth, Devon, the only son of Sir John Bennet Lawes of Rothamsted Manor, Hertfordshire and his wife Caroline Fountaine. His sister Caroline was born a year later.
Charles was educated at Eton and Trinity College, Cambridge. At Cambridge he won the Colquhoun Sculls in 1862 and the Diamond Challenge Sculls at Henley Royal Regatta in 1863. He excelled in the university distance running events and received an athletics Blue in 1864 for the mile at the Inter University sports, which he won again in 1865.
He was a rowing Blue in 1865 when he stroked the losing Cambridge crew in the Boat Race but was in the winning crew of the Ladies’ Challenge Plate at Henley. He was beaten by Edward Michell in the Diamond Challenge Sculls in 1865, but won the Wingfield Sculls beating Walter Bradford Woodgate. In 1865 he was the Amateur Athletics Club champion for the mile.
Having studied natural sciences he graduated with a BA in 1866. He decided to become a sculptor, and began his training in London under John Henry Foley RA, Queen Victoria’s favourite sculptor (who made the model for the statue of Albert for the Albert Memorial). In 1869 he studied under Hugo Hagen in Berlin.
Marriage to his cousin Amy and his career as a sculptor
In April 1869 he married his first cousin Marie Amelie Rose Fountaine. Their son John, who inherited the baronetcy, was born in 1872, the year that Charles rented (with his father’s financial support) a studio in Chelsea, and exhibited his first work at the Royal Academy, ‘Girl at the Stream’.
In 1906 he executed The Death of Dirce, a bronze sculptural group based on the Farnese Bull, a classical work depicting the same subject. William Murray (who was the winner of the first bodybuilding competition in 1902) was his model for the twins Amphion and Zethus. The huge bronze was cast by A B Burton at his foundry in Thames Ditton. This was followed by a colossal marble version, exhibited at the Franco-British Exhibition in 1908, at the same time as the bronze was being exhibited at the Royal Academy.
The marble sculpture is now in the grounds at Rothamsted, as is a version of the nude lady (see below). In 1911, after the sculptor’s death, a plaster version of The Death of Dirce was exhibited at the International Fine Arts Exhibition in Rome. That same year his widow offered the bronze to the National Gallery of British Art (later the Tate Gallery). Too large to be satisfactorily displayed indoors, it was installed on the terrace to the left of the building’s entrance, where it still stands.
Charles had died at Rothamsted on 6 October at the age of 68, after an operation for appendicitis. He was cremated at Golders Green Crematorium on 11 October 1911, where there is a memorial.
Charles was the last of the Lawes-Wittewronge family to live at Rothamsted Manor. Amy moved out of the Manor some 18 months after her husband’s death and lived in London for a while before joining their son John who had moved to Australia. Amy died in 1928 and is included on the memorial at Golders Green Crematorium. Sir John Bennet Lawes-Wittewronge, the 3rd baronet, was succeeded by his son, Sir John Claud Lawes in 1931. The baronetcy passed to Sir (John) Michael Bennet Lawes in 1979 and on his death in 2009 the baronetcy, granted to Sir John Bennet Lawes in 1882, became extinct.
A summary of Charles Lawes-Wittewronge’s artistic career can be seen at: http://sculpture.gla.ac.uk/view/person.php?id=msib2_1219748255&search=Charles%20Lawes-Wittewronge – this link can be activated by pasting it into your browser.