Sculpture, Tate Gallery
( Originally Published 1908 )
I have told you that in the grounds of the Tate Gallery you will see the stalwart figure of Sir John Everett Millais, palette in hand. He was a man whose art was typically English, so it is fitting that we should turn our thoughts to him before passing into the National Gallery of British Art. It is also well that, as we go into the galleries, the first thing we should see is a bust of Sir Henry Tate (1765), so that we might, before passing on to the pictures, have a look at the man to whom we owe so many of them.
We will pass on now to the Sculpture Gallery and have a look at Mr. Brock's ` Moment of Peril ' (1747). His conception is powerful. A life and death struggle is being waged between an Indian on horseback and a snake ; a huge python has turned itself round one of the back legs of the horse, but there is hope for the rider, as with steady hand he takes aim at the cruel enemy.
In a glass case, protected from the London atmosphere, sits Pandora by Mr. Harry Bates, A.R.A. (1750). On her knee is a casket beautifully wrought in ivory and gold. The box, as you know, was full of blessings that mankind was to enjoy so long as Pandora kept them safely shut up. But one fatal day she was curious and opened her casket ; the blessings took to their wings and flew away—all except Hope.
Another powerful work from the same hand is `Hounds in Leash' (1767). How strong is the young man as he curbs the dogs straining every muscle to get at their prey !
As a boy, Mr. Harry Bates, who was born at Stevenage (1850-1899), was apprenticed to a firm of sculptors and marble merchants. In those days he did a great deal of work, carving stone rosettes and decorations for churches. He longed to have the chance of studying, and at last went to the Royal Academy schools. While there, he won a travelling studentship, which enabled him to go to Paris and study under Rodin. The great French-man was so impressed by his pupil's talent that he would take no money for his instruction.
Now let us look at Teucer the Bowman, by Mr. Hamo Thorneycroft, R.A. (1751). Teucer has just sent his arrow speeding into the distance to find, he hopes, its resting place in the body of Hector. He is a magnificent figure, tense and alert.
Mr. Homo Thorneycroft could hardly help his choice of a career, for both his father and mother were sculptors. As a boy he worked in his father's studio and at the Academy schools ; need I tell you that he also studied the Elgin marbles in the British Museum ?
When we looked at Lord Leighton's pictures I told you something of his life. He was a sculptor as well as a painter. He has here a ` Sluggard ' (1752), standing up stretching himself, in an attitude so characteristic of the thoroughly lazy man, that he makes you yawn to look at him. He is so indolent that he is treading under foot the laurel crown which he might have worn. It is interesting to contrast with this ` An Athlete struggling with a Python ' (1754), for the same model was used for both figures. It was the Athlete stretching himself after his difficult position that gave Lord Leighton the idea for the Sluggard.
With Mr. Onslow Ford's (R.A.) statue of ` Folly ' (1758), we must bring this chapter to a close. She is standing on a rock looking out into the distance, waving her arms, all unconscious of her perilous position and that any moment she may lose her balance.