Francis Derwent Wood
Signed Derwent Wood and inscribed 1909.
Bronze with rich dark brown patination.
Height: 15 3/4 inches (40cm)
Conceived and cast 1909
Francis Derwent Wood was born in Cumberland in 1871 and after after a brief period studying in Karlsruhe, Germany, returned to England in 1889. He continued his studies in London under Edouard Lanteri at the Royal College of Art whilst also developing his modelling skills at ceramists Maw & Co, and later Coalbrookdale Iron Co.
Following his studies, Wood worked under the sculptors Alphonse Legros and Sir Thomas Brock and in 1895 he achieved the RA’s Gold medal with his bronze group Daedalus and Icarus, which is now exhibited at the Bristol Art Museum and Gallery. Wood would go on to become a founding member of the Royal Society of British sculptors and a leading figure in the English New Sculpture Movement of the late 19th and early 20th Century.
In 1914, at the onset of World War I, Wood was already 41 and too old to enlist. Instead, the sculptor began volunteering at hospitals that specialised in treating wounded soldiers, developing a new technique for sculpting portrait masks for those soldiers who had facial wounds. These masks were cast in copper and hand finished in enamel flesh toned paint by Wood to give an accurate likeness of the wounded soldier.
Following the war, Wood was commissioned to design the Machine Gun Corps Memorial, which was erected in 1925 and currently stands at Hyde Park Corner, London. The monument, arguably his most famous work, depicts the nude figure of David flanked by Vickers gun encased in bronze and laurel-wreathed. Other monuments by the artist include the Memorial to Major General Sir John Eardley Wilmot Inglis at St. Paul’s Cathedral, Status of Atalanta at the Chelsea Embankment and Britannia Persian Scarf Dancer at Finsbury Circus. His work can also be seen at Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum, Glasgow, where four of his sculptures adorn the outer architecture. Wodds work also resides in all majour British public collections, including the Victoria and Albert Museum, The Tate Britian, The Royal Academy of Arts and the Fitzwilliam museum.
The present model, conceived in 1909 was featured prominently in the Pall Mall Magazine alongside busts by Alfred Drury and an image of Sir George Frampton’s Peter Pan. It is one of a number of a number of smaller pre-war works by the artist which show the influence of late 19th Century Romantic French sculpture. Indeed, during the 1890s Wood made a number of trips to Paris where he particularly admired the work of Auguste Rodin. Here the sculptor expertly captures the movement in the bathers torso and her elegantly outstretched arm giving the model a poise and charm that is less evident in his later memorial sculpture.
Francis Derwent Wood, Bather, Bronze, Illustrated in the 1911 Edition of the Pall Mall Magazine.
Francis Derwent Wood, Machine Gun Corps Memorial, Bronze and Marble, Hyde Park Corner, London