Signed Onslow Ford
Bronze with a brown patina and lighter brown highlights
Height: 13 3/4" (35 cm)
Conceived and cast circa 1890
Edward Onslow Ford was born in London in 1852. He first studied painting in Antwerp at the Koninklijke Academie voor Schone Kunsten before taking up sculpture, encouraged to join the classes of Professor Michael Wagmüller at the Akademie der Bildenden Künste, Munich.
He returned to London with his wife, Anne Gwendoline von Kreuzer, whom he met and married in Germany, in 1874. Ten years later, the sculptor took a studio opposite Alfred Gilbert in Fulham. The two became firm friends, experimenting with the lost-wax method of casting. Ford later became well-known for casting his smaller bronzes with this technique. Along with Gilvert, Ford was also a pioneer of mixed-media sculpture.
In the 1880s, the sculptor produced a series of allegorical female nudes, which helped cement his place at the forefront of the New Sculpture movement. The earliest of these nudes, Folly, was purchased by the Tate Gallery, London, and according to the critic Marion Hepworth Dixon ‘made the fortunes of its creator.’ The present sculpture is part of the same series.
Dancing was conceived as a pair to Music (1890) and featured the young woman wearing an ornate helmet with two wings. When it was illustrated in the 1890 edition of Magazine of Art, the author suggests that the headdress was inspired by Alfred Gilbert’s Enchanted Chair, this life-size model was later exhibited at the Fine Art Society in 1902. Another life-size cast of the work, without the headdress, is in the collection of the Lady Lever Art Gallery, Liverpool. The present model is a reduction of the Lady Lever version, with the position of the left hand differing slightly.
Onslow Ford, Dancing, bronze, 1891, Lady Lever Art Gallery
As is typical in Ford’s work, the dainty idealised figure is left free from classical connotations or mythological themes. Here, the graceful swooping of the dancer’s arms and her delicate posture merely serve to illustrate the movement and joys of dance.