Eleanor Coade - artist in artificial stone
The Coade factory
Eleanor Coade was born on 3 June 1733 in Exeter, the elder daughter of George Coade and his wife, Eleanor. Around 1760 the family moved to London, where Eleanor found employment as a linen draper. In 1769 George Coade died, bankrupt and leaving little to his family.
In the same year as her father's death, Eleanor joined Daniel Pincot, a stone maker who was already working on the Narrow Wall site in Lambeth. It is likely that this business was a continuation of a previous company run by Richard Halt, a manufacturer of artificial stone, who in 1722 had taken out two patents for a kind of liquid metal or stone and another for making china without the use of clay (Kelly 1990, 31).
Eleanor and Pincot worked together until 1771. Their partnership ended when Eleanor took exception to Pincot representing himself as the sole proprietor of the factory, after which she took full ownership of the company.
Shortly after Pincot's departure, John Bacon (1740-1799) was appointed as the factory supervisor. It was his neo-classical models and high standards of design that raised the Coade profile amongst the architectural elite.
During this period it seems that Eleanor Coade gained experience working with the models and in doing so became a talented sculptor. At the factory she was a considerable influence on the pieces being created, while between 1773 and 1780 she exhibited examples of her work at the Society of Artists (Kelly 2004).
When John Bacon died in 1799, Eleanor formed a partnership with her cousin, John Sealy, who had been working at the factory for some years (Kelly 1990, 46). The firm was renamed Coade & Sealy, under which they traded until Eleanor's death in 1821. She never married and therefore made her cousin, William Croggon, her successor. From 1814 onwards Croggon paid rates for the factory (Roberts & Godfrey 1951, 58-61).