Modern Sculpture In England

THE CLASSICAL SCHOOL In England the churches, public squares, and private houses have continued a demand for monumental and portrait sculpture. The classic revival has made itself felt in English sculpture as well as in literature; and to offset this, the scientific reaction has produced a strong school of naturalistic sculptors. The classical movement of the nineteenth century was almost the beginning of sculpture in England. Never before had she produced a succession of able sculptors like Westmacott and Chantrey, Bailey and Gibson, and the minor lights who surrounded them.

Sir Richard Westmacott (1775–1856) showed himself the artistic successor of Flaxman in a relief entitled the Blue Bell, and in his statues of Psyche, Cupid, and Euphrosyne. He is to be remembered, too, for the pedimental sculptures of the British Museum and the monuments of Pitt and Fox in Westminster Abbey. He also represented the Duke of Wellington as Achilles.

Sir Francis Legatt Chantrey (1781-1842), although the friend of Canova, and influenced by Thorwaldsen, rarely attempted ideal themes. His works have the charm of tender sentiment, as in the Sleeping Children, at Lichfield Cathedral, or the Resignation, at Worcester Cathedral. His busts and statues were simple, refined, and technically excellent. Of his monumental works may be mentioned the statue of Canning in Liverpool, the equestrian George IV. in Trafalgar Square, and the Duke of Wellington in front of the Royal Exchange, London.

Edward Hodges Bailey (1788-1867), a pupil of Flaxman, combined religious with classic sentiment in his statues of Eve at the Fountain, and Eve listening to the Voice. He designed the statue of Nelson for the Nelson monument in Trafalgar Square.

John Gibson (1790—1866) was the most thorough classicist of the English school. He worked under Canova and Thorwaldsen, and resided for a long time in Rome. His first original work, The Sleeping Shepherd, was followed by Mars and Cupid, Psyche borne by Zephyrs, Meeting of Hero and Leander, Hylas surprised by Nymphs, Cupid tormenting the Soul, and Narcissus. His Queen Victoria was robed in classic drapery. During the forties he startled the English public with his Tinted Venus, and justified the coloring of his statue by the remark that ” what the Greeks did was right.” He gave many years to the perfection of this statue, and said of it : ” This is the most carefully executed work I ever executed, for I wrought the forms up to the highest elevation of character, which results from purity and sweetness combined with an air of unaffected dignity and grace. I took the liberty to decorate it in a fashion unprecedented in modern times. I tinted the flesh warm ivory, scarcely red, the eyes blue, the hair blond, and the net which contains the hair, golden.”

Other classicists worthy of mention were William Theed (1764—1817), William Pitts (1790—1840), Thomas Campbell (1790-1858), Richard John Wyatt (1795-1858), Patrick McDowell (1799-1870), and Joseph Durham (1814-1877). More strictly portrait sculptors were their contemporaries, William Behnes (1790-1864), Thomas Kirk (1784-1845), and John E. Jones (1806-1862).

THE REACTION AGAINST THE CLASSIC STYLE, The reaction against the classic style had attained considerable strength by the middle of this century. Sculptors like Stevens, Foley, Boehm, Woolner, and Armstead looked to the past for inspiration, but to the Italian Renaissance rather than to Greece and Rome.

Alfred George Stevens (1817—1875) was a pupil of Thorwaldsen, but received a greater bias from the works of Michelangelo than from his master. The freedom and breadth of his decorative work exerted a considerable influence upon English industrial art, and his Duke of Wellington monument in St. Paul’s Cathedral, though still unfinished, brought new life into English sculpture. England may well point with pride to the powerful groups of Valor triumphing over Cowardice and of Truth pulling out the Tongue of Falsehood which decorate the canopy under which re-poses the effigy of the Duke.

John Henry Foley ( 1818—1874) in his earlier works, such as Juno -and the Infant Bacchus, and Venus receiving .AEneas from Diomedes, showed his indebtedness to the older school of sculptors, but his busts and portrait statues of Goldsmith, Burke, Selden, Hampden, and others brought out more strongly his naturalistic bent. He was the author of the group of Asia, and of the Prince Consort, on the Albert Memorial in Hyde Park, London, but vigorous equestrian statue of General Sir James Outram, in Calcutta. One of his latest works was the statue of General ” Stonewall ” Jackson, in Richmond, Va. Sir Joseph Edgar Boehm (1834—1891), though born in Vienna and trained in Paris, became a representative English sculptor, especially in portrait statues. Among the best of these are his Thomas Carlyle, at Chelsea, his John Bunyan, at Bedford, his busts of Lord Wolseley and Herbert Spencer, and the tomb statues of Dean Stanley and the Earl of Shaftesbury in Westminster.

Thomas Woolner (1825–1893) exhibited the spirit of romanticism in his early works, such as Eleanora sucking Poison from the Wound of Prince Edward, the Death of Boadicea, and Puck. After the foundation of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood in 1848, of which he was an original member, he exhibited in some of his works, as in the Achilles shouting from the Trenches, the early Italian Renaissance tendency of that school. A refined sentiment characterized his busts, portrait statues, and medallions, such as those of Tennyson, Carlyle, Wordsworth, Macaulay, Dickens, and Darwin. His last important work, The Housemaid, was a romantic treatment of a theme more likely to have been chosen by a more naturalistic sculptor.

Other sculptors representing tendencies similar to Woolner’s were James F. Redfern (1838–1876), whose work was in demand for Gothic churches and for the restoration of ancient Gothic sculptures; Lord Ronald Gower, who was influenced by French sculpture of the thirteenth century; and Henry Hugh Armstead (b. 1828), who exhibits a wide range of subjects, styles, and methods. Matthew Noble (1818–1876) and Charles B. Birch were inclined to romantic methods even in portraiture, and George Tinworth in his terracotta reliefs strove to be naturalistic in following the style of Giotto. Thomas Brock (b. 1847), the pupil of Foley, in all his early works followed in the line of his master. T. Nelson Maclean, notwithstanding his training in Paris, and George A. Lawson may be classed with this transitional school.

LATEST PHASE OF ENGLISH SCULPTURE. The latest school of English sculpture exhibits greater originality and technical ability than were attained by its predecessors. This school is poetic in temperament, but selects frequently naturalistic and democratic themes. Its technical ideal is no longer the beauty of linear form, but of expressive modelling. Its teacher is neither Rome nor Florence, but Paris. The sculptural prototypes of this school are the Clytie produced in 1868 by George Frederick Watts (b. 1818), and the Athlete strangling a Python exhibited in 1877 by Sir Frederick Leighton (1830-1896).

It is noteworthy that these works came from the hands of painters, and were characterized not merely by novelty of conception but by the expressive manner in which the surfaces were modelled. Sir Frederick’s subsequent statue of the Sluggard, and his statuette entitled Need-less Alarms, won for him a relatively more advanced position than that which he enjoyed as a painter.

Three sculptors stand at the head of their profession in England at the present day: Thornycroft, Onslow Ford, and Gilbert. Hamo Thornycroft (1850–) in his earliest work, the Warrior carrying a Wounded Youth from Battle, reminds us somewhat of David d’Angers and of Rude. His skill in surface-modelling was shown in his Artemis and in his remark-able statue called Putting the Stone. His Teucer, admirable for the same quality, has a style about it which makes us think of Paul Dubois, while his subsequent statues of the Mower and the Sower are suggestive of the peasant painters of the Barbizon school. But the spirit which animates these works is not French, but English.

E.Onslow Ford (1852-), though trained as a painter at Antwerp and Munich, has worked as a sculptor since the exhibition in 1883 of his statue of Henry Irving as Hamlet. This was followed by poetical productions such as Linos, Folly, Peace, the Singer, Music, and Dancing. These statues, as well as his most important production, the Shelley Memorial at Oxford, are characterized by beauty of form and sentiment even more strongly than by their expressive modelling.

Alfred Gilbert (1854–) in his Kiss of Victory, exhibited in 1882, seems to have been inspired by the Gloria Victis of Mercie. The influence of Mercie is perceptible also in his Perseus applying his Winglets. His Icarus, made in 1884, is said to have been the first bronze of importance cast by the cire perdue process in England. His most elaborate work is the memorial to Henry Fawcett in Westminster Abbey, in which a frieze of variously colored bronze figures flanks the hust of the statesman. Refined in its details, but not altogether successful in its general mass, is the Shaftesbury Memorial Fountain in Piccadilly Circus.

Outside of this distinguished trio may be mentioned Harry Bates, who has produced several excellent reliefs; Roscoe Mullins, who is perhaps too much inclined to story-telling in statuary; George J. Frampton, a versatile and especially clever sculptor in the use of delicate relief; Henry A. Pegram, who has applied a pictorial method to high-reliefs; W. Goscombe John and T. Stirling Lee, realistic representatives of the new school ; Robert Stark and John M. Swan, sculptors of animals; and Frederick Pomeroy, an excellent sculptor of statuettes. Some talent is also shown in the works of Alfred Drury, F. E. E. Schenck, Adrien Jones, Allen Hutchinson, A. Toft, and H. C. Fehr.

EXTANT MONUMENTS. The exhibitions of the Royal Academy, and of the Grosvenor and the New Gallery, afford annually an opportunity of studying the most recent productions before they are scattered in the churches, civic buildings, public squares, and private collections.