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Alfred Stevens was born in Blandford, the son of a house painter. In 1833 his friends subscribed to send him to Italy, where he stayed for nine years and studied under Thorvaldsen. On his return to England he worked at the Government School of Design at Somerset House 1845–1847. He moved to Sheffield in 1850 to work as a designer for Hoole and Robson, a firm of metal workers. He worked as a designer and decorator at Dorchester House, Harewood House and Deysbrook Hall. He produced very few oil paintings, mostly portraits. He was also a sculptor and his most famous commission was the Wellington Monument in St Paul's Cathedral begun in 1858 and completed by his pupils after his death the same year.