Brief Notes on a few Modern Sculptors

Go straight to:Eric Gill // Jacob Epstein // David Norris // David Wynne // Eduardo Paolozzi // Charles Wheeler // William McMillan // William Reid Dick

Although this website is largely devoted to the 19th Century, many of the pages on museums and sculpture locations note modern art, most particularly works which are figural, or seem to me to be in the spirit of a continuation of traditional styles of art. This page notes several of the modern sculptors who are referred to in passing.

Eric Gill (1882-1942)

Eric Gill is one of the best-known artists of his time. As well as sculpture, he worked in typography and black and white art, for the latter working in a flowing, elegant style that has similarities to art deco. He was born in Brighton, studied first at the School of Art in Chichester, and then turned to typography, working for Monotype and designing popular typefaces such as Perpetua and Gill sans serif. It was only in 1910 that he began to make sculptural works.

In London, Broadcasting House in Portland Place close to the north end of Regent Street has carvings by Gill, and a free-standing group Prospero and Ariel (1932). There is large-scale work by him (the Winds) above St James underground station, and panels showing The Stations of the Cross in Westminster Cathedral.

Jacob Epstein (1880-1959)

Jacob Epstein, one of the greatest representative sculptors of the 20th Century, was born in New York, and came to Europe only in the early 1900s - first to Paris in 1902, and then settling in London in 1905. His oeuvre includes many portrait busts, carvings, and large symbolic figures.

His smaller portrait busts can be seen in many of the great public collections. Among his most important outdoor works, St Michael casting down Satan is on the wall of the new Coventry Cathedral, and other pieces are in the bombed shell of the old Cathedral there. In Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery is a most powerful Lucifer. London has Madonna and Child in Cavendish Square, Pan in Knightsbridge, Smuts in Parliament Square, Night at St James Underground Station and Rima in St James Park. A group of several portrait heads is at the Imperial War Museum, and other work is at Bristol.

David Norris RA (b. 1940)

David Norris was born in Brazil. He moved to London, became ARA in the early 1960s, and subsequently Vice-President of the RSBS. In London, his sculpture Mother and Child is in Great Portland Street (see the Walk starting from Marylebone), and in Stevenage may be found an elegant group Women and Dovesstanding in a pond. He was also commissioned to design the Britannia Memorial in Port Stanley, Falkland Islands, in 1983 (if any Falkland Islander reads this, do please email me a picture!).

David Wynne (b. 1926)

David Wynne was born in London, and seems to have had no formal art training. His figurative sculpture concentrates on movement, and includes most notably Girl With Doves (1970), The Dancers (1971) and Dancer with Bird (1975), all in Cadogen Square Gardens. Other works in London are Girl with a Dolphin and Boy with a Dolphin, the latter being at the Chelsea School of Art. In the 1950s Wynne was concerned mainly with animal sculptures, and his Guy the Gorilla is in the Crystal Palace Gardens (Guy was the most famous gorilla at London Zoo).

Eduardo Paolozzi RA (b. 1924)

Eduardo Paolozzi was born in Edinburgh, and studied in London at the Slade from 1944-7. He worked in Paris from 1947-50, and then returned to London. He has been an influential teacher at the Central School of Art, St Martin etc, and his many honours include a one-man show at the Tate Gallery in 1971. He was involved in Pop Art, but in recent years has become known for a very recognisable type of 'machine man'. There is a Large Head by him outside Euston Station, but the most well-known piece by him in London is in fact a mosaic - it is the one which occupies much of the interior of Tottenham Court Road Station.

Sir Charles Wheeler PRA (1892-1974)

The sculptor Charles Wheeler specialised in portraiture and architectural sculpture. There are many works by him in London, dating from the 1930s through to several only placed in 1975, the year after his death. From the 1930s are his figures for the Bank of England, including those on the front, and the figure of Ariel on the dome at the corner of Princes Street and Lothbury Street. The gilded Springbok on South Africa House also dates from this period (1934). His most familiar work is the western fountain figures (1948) in Trafalgar Square (the eastern ones are by William McMillan), and the portrait sculpture of Jellicoe in the Square is also by him. In the 1950s he produced the monumental figures Earth and Water on the modern MOD building in Horseguards Avenue, and in George Square off Lombard Street is his Poseidon group of 1969. In the same square is his Hercules and the Lion (1970s), and in Lombard Street itself is his St George and the Dragon. A Mary of Nazareth, also put up in 1975, is in St James Piccadilly. Wheeler became RA in 1940, and held the office of President from 1956-1966.

William McMillan RA (1887-1977)

The sculptor William McMillan was born in Aberdeen, Scotland. He became ARA in 1925, RA in 1933, and was the Master of the Sculpture School at the Academy from 1929-41. In London are various of his works, of which the most well known is the East Fountain in Trafalgar Square (1948). He also did the bust of Beatty there (1948). Another fountain by him is the Goetze Memorial Fountain, with triton and dryads, in Regents Park (1950) - see the walk there. More conventional is his George VI on Carlton House Terrace (1955) - see the walk down The Mall. A Raleigh is in Whitehall (1959), and a Trenchard on the Victoria Embankment (1961). Other portrait statues include Goodenough in Mecklenburgh Square (1936) Coran in Brunswick Square (1963), Sir John Alcock and Sir Arthur Brown at Heathrow (1966), and Charles Rolls and Henry Royce at Rolls Royce, 65 Buckingham Gate, (placed 1978). In the Royal Academy on the staircase is his statue of Turner. An unconventional Lightning Conductor by McMillan is the golden figure on one foot atop Kensington Town Hall (1960).

Sir William Reid Dick RA (1879-1961)

The sculptor William Reid Dick is responsible for various human and animal statues in London. He was sculptor to King George VI, and became ARA in 1921, RA in 1928. The sculptures by Blackfriars Bridge (Unilever House) are his, as is the eagle on the Royal Air Force Monument on the Embankment. In Regents Park is his Boy with Frog fountain (1936). He was also the sculptor of the imposing Roosevelt in Grosvenor Square, the George V by the House of Lords, and John Soane at the Bank of England.

Outdoor sculpture by these and others can be seen scattered around the streets and parks of London, and an interesting group of recent works by foreign sculptors may be seen in Belgrave Square.

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