Nationally recognized for his teaching and portraiture, Henry Weekes was one of the most successful sculptors of the mid-Victorian period in England. After an apprenticeship, he studied at the Royal Academy, where he won a silver medal for sculpture in 1826. He then joined the studio of Sir Francis Chantrey, the leading portrait sculptor of the period. Upon Chantrey's death in 1841, Weekes took over the studio and completed many of the unfinished commissions, including an equestrian statue of the Duke of Wellington. By this time, Weekes already had earned his own reputation for portraiture: he was the first artist asked to execute a bust of Queen Victoria upon her accession to the throne. Throughout his career, Weekes was associated with the Royal Academy, first as student and then as an exhibiting member, finally becoming a professor in 1869. His lectures at the Academy covered a variety of topics, including Composition, Beauty, Idealism, and Portraiture; these were published after his death as Lectures on Art. His intellectual approach to art was expressed to his students through his oft-repeated hope: "I wish you to be thinking men."