King castle

Sculptor who created iconic statue of King Richard III of Leicester dies aged 90

The artist behind Leicester’s iconic King Richard III statue, located in the heart of the city, has died aged 90. Sculptor James Walter Butler was renowned for the work, commissioned in 1980 by members of the Richard III Society.

It was unveiled on July 30 that year by Princess Alice, Duchess of Gloucester. While originally situated in the castle gardens, the statue was lifted from its plinth in 2014 to be refurbished and restored – before being moved to its current location in Cathedral Square.

Mr Butler is also the sculptor behind The Leicester Seamstress, which was commissioned in 1990 and stands in Hotel Street. He also created the statue of Burton Cooper, at Burton in 1977 and erected the statue of footballer Billy Wright in 1996 at Wolverhampton.

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Mr Butler was born in London in 1931 and attended Maidstone School of Art and Maidstone Grammar School, before studying art at Saint Martin’s School of Art and the Royal College of Art. He was also the person behind the 2004 edition of the 50p coin produced – created to commemorate Roger Bannister’s four-minute mile.

Leicester’s seamstress outside City Chambers

For ten years he was a professional stone carver and taught sculpture and drawing at the City and Guilds of London Art School and was a visiting professor at the Royal Academy School. He was first elected to the Royal Academy of Arts in 1964 and was a Fellow of the Royal West of England Academy and a Fellow of the Royal British Society of Sculptors.

He has works in private collections around the world and has undertaken numerous public commissions. He designed the current version of the Great British Seal. Butler was made a Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) in the 2009 New Year’s Honours.

Mr. Butler died on March 26. He is survived by Angie and their four daughters, Rosie, Saskia, Candida and Aurelia, a son, Tom, from his marriage to Janet, and a daughter, Kate, from his marriage to Elizabeth.