Sculpture in Sefton Park, Liverpool

Sefton Park Palm House.

In Sefton Park is the beautiful Palm House, like a mini-Palm House from Kew Gardens, the work of the Scottish architects Mackenzie and Mancur, and put up in 1896. It is tall, with the base a rounded octagon, in three tiers, airy and light. Around the exterior are eight statues, by L-J Chavalliaud, best known in England for his Cardinal Newman in front of the Brompton Oratory. These are:

Chavalliaud's statue of Mercator.

Also outside the Palm House is a version of the Peter Pan statue by George Frampton – not a copy of the Kensington Gardens version, apparently, but a second edition made for Liverpool at the time. It complements the Walker Gallery’s collection of New Sculpture. The fairies on the tall base, winsome lithe winged girls, typify the Frampton type in active, rather than reflective pose.

Inside, three groups in marble. The girl protectively cradled above her sleeping infant, unfortunately rather damaged and much worn, is B. E. Spence’s Angel’s Whisper. His also is the standing girl with enfolding cape – Highland Mary, his most well-known work, of which another copy is in the Walker. Rather sweet, chaste, nice drapes. The third work, also in marble, is a naturalistic garden piece of two goats, signed faintly on the base by G[iovita] Lombardi, an Italian sculptor who specialised in animal subjects. Also inside is a massive stone bench with the arms in the form of stylised griffins. Elsewhere in the park, by the cafeteria, is a ruinous and overgrown copy of the Shaftsbury Memorial in Piccadilly, lacking Eros (who when I visited was in the Conservation centre), but among the weeds can be seen the bronze infant faces and half figures, and scaly fishes. The work of Alfred Gilbert, leading exponent of the New Sculpture. There is also a statue of William Rathbone, by Brock, but I did not get to see this.

Finally, by the principal entrance to the Park, an obelisk in shap granite, with some bronze ornament – flourishes and scallop shells – at the base. This is the Samuel Smith memorial which had a plaque once, by C. J. Allen.

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