Altarnum-born, he only came further west than Falmouth to end his days in Redruth workhouse. In Altarnum he began carving with local materials - Delabole slate and 'Cornish marble' - and entered pieces for exhibitions at the Royal Polytechnic Society at Falmouth, winning Bronze medals, and a Silver for his Laocoon.
The president of the RCPS, Sir Charles Lemon MP, introduced Burnard to Sir Francis Chantrey, London's most famous sculptor who in turn introduced him to London Society and later to Queen Victoria, to sculpt a bust of the six-year old Prince of Wales.
In London, Burnard was employed initially as a carver for Henry Weekes, and also assisted Chantrey. By 1841 he was an independent sculptor with a studio and an established reputation. At the death of his daughter, however, he drowned his sorrows in drink and lost his wife and family in his disintegration. He returned to Cornwall, and literally became a wandering tramp and homeless person. Taken finally to the Redruth workhouse, he died there, and was buried in an unmarked grave in Camborne cemetery.
In 1954, the Old Cornwall Society righted this oversight with a slate memorial to the sculptor, remembered as one of Cornwall's most outstanding.
Sculptor best known for his portrait figures
works and access
Works include: the Lander statue at the top of Lemon Street, Truro (1852, said to be his finest work); Ebenezer Elliott, statue of Corn-Law Rhymer, Sheffield (1854)
Work in West Cornwall: Marble relief Rev. Hugh Rogers (inside North wall, Camborne Parish Church); Memorial to Dr George Smith (Wesley Chapel, Chapel Street, Camborne); Bust of William Bickford Smith MP (Helston Folk Museum)
Access to work: Royal Cornwall Museum, Truro
West Briton and Cornwall Advertiser (1835)
Hardie (2009) Artists in Newlyn and West Cornwall (p317) (incl Garrihy pp95-6 'Sculpture in West Cornwall')
Martin (1978) A Wayward Genius, Neville Northy Burnard