Francis John Williamson (17 July 1833 – 12 March 1920) was a British portrait sculptor, reputed to have been Queen Victoria‘s favourite.
Williamson exhibited with the Royal Academy of Arts 38 times from 1853–1897. and with the Royal Birmingham Society of Artists in 1868, when he showed several items, including a medallion depicting Mrs W. Wills, 1887 and 1902. It was during his time with Foley that he first met Victoria. In 1870, she commissioned a memorial to George IV‘s daughter Princess Charlotte and her husband Prince Leopold (Victoria’s uncle) which was erected inside their former home, Claremont. (The memorial was subsequently moved to St George’s Church, Esher.) Many members of the royal family subsequently sat for him, and in 1887 he sculpted the (Golden) Jubilee bust of Queen Victoria, which was replicated for display around the British Empire.
Williamson received a number of commissions from the municipal authorities in Birmingham. These included a marble bust of the Shakespearian scholar Samuel Timmins, now in the Library of Birmingham, a statue of the dissenting theologian and natural philosopher Joseph Priestley, now in Chamberlain Square, a statue of Sir Josiah Mason, (destroyed, but a 1952 bronze cast of the bust, by William Bloye, is in the suburb of Erdington), a statue of preacher and reformer George Dawson (since destroyed), a statue of John Skirrow Wright (also destroyed; a 1956 bronze cast of the bust by Bloye is in Birmingham Council House), and the decoration on the pediment of the Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery, a work known as the Allegory of Fame Rewarding the Arts. A plaster cast of his bust of Tennyson (1893) is in the National Portrait Gallery.
He met his future wife, Elizabeth Smith, while staying in Esher and they married in 1857 In 1860, they set up a home and him a studio at Fairholme, 79, High Street, Esher, where he eventually died. The building (later named “The Bunch of Grapes” and now “Grapes House”) is extant, and carries a blue plaque, erected by the Esher Residents Association in 2010, in commemoration of Williamson.
His younger brother John Henry Williamson (born c. 1843) was a silversmith.