Charles d'Orville Pilkington Jackson
Signed Pilkington Jackson
Dated 1922 and inscribed X
Height: 29 1/2'" (75 cm)
Conceived in 1922 and cast within the artist's lifetime
Charles d’Orville Pilkington Jackson was born in Cornwall in 1887. He moved to Scotland early in his life, first studying design at the Royal Institute and then enrolling at the Edinburgh Art College in 1907. His early talent earned him a travelling scholarship to Italy in 1910. A year later, Jackson was back at work in his Edinburgh studio, submitting his first ever sculpture, Loretto Boy, to the Royal Academy.
Jackson enlisted in the Ayrshire Field Artillery during WW1, travelling to Palestine and Egypt. Upon his return to Britain, he started sculpting again, focusing on the creation of war memorials throughout the 1920’s; Jackson’s best-known works of this kind are the Alloa War Memorial and the sculptural decorations for the Scottish National War Memorial at Edinburgh Castle. In the same years, the artist also produced a number of portraits, the most exemplary of which is the Sir Edward Sharpey-Schafer medal, executed in 1922 and now in the collection of the National Portrait Gallery, London.
Jackson received important public commissions throughout the 1930’s. Among these, one should remember Foam for the Empire Exhibition at Glasgow in 1938. In 1942, he became president of the Scottish Society of Arts, a position he held until 1945 while working as Gun Operations Officer at Edinburgh. Interestingly, Jackson’s best-known monumental sculpture, the equestrian statue of Robert Bruce, King of Scots for Bannockburn, dates to a much later date in his career, 1964, and testifies to the continued passion the artist infused in his work. Jackson died in 1973, at the age of 85, in his adoptive city of Edinburgh.
The present piece dates to 1922 – a prolific year in Jackson’s career – and is one of 15 casts produced by the artist. It displays a bacchante leaping forward, clasping cymbals in both hands, her body only partly covered by a short dress of Greek inspiration, which leaves her arms, right breast and legs uncovered.
Although the composition develops on a central axis, Jackson is able to achieve a great sense of movement by engaging the limbs of the figure in different actions, thrusting her body forward while her head is thrown back, twisting her torso so as the hipbones are not squared with the shoulders. Such movements can be linked to the dancing style created by Isadora Duncan at the turn of the century.
Duncan took her costume dress inspiration from ancient Greece. Her life was similarly unconstrained like her dancing style, and although she originally said she would never marry, she married twice, had two children out of wedlock and an array of heterosexual and lesbian affairs. She was part of a group of forward-thinking women who fought for women’s rights during this time with numerous articles and over 40 books written about her, displaying her feminist attitudes.
Duncan was a recurring source of inspiration for artists across the Western world. During her stay in Paris in 1900-1901, Rodin was inspired by her choreographies, producing numerous drawings and sculptural studies based on her performances. In particular, one of Duncan’s famed routines was titled Bacchanal, while in her suite The Many Faces of Love, she presented a choreography to Brahms’ Waltz in C major, Op. 39, No. 13, also known as ‘Cymbals’. These possibly inspired Jackson to produce the present model.
Jakson’s sketchbooks demonstrate that other dancers also inspired the artist to produce works and drawings at different stages of his career. Jackson stated in his memoirs how fascinated he was by Anna Pavlova’s routines, which he felt compelled to watch for several nights in a row when she was performing in Edinburgh. Likewise, the name of another great innovator of the early 20th century, Tamara Karsavina, returns from time to time in his sketchbooks, demonstrating the infuence of the performative arts in the sculptor’s production.
We are grateful to Kirsty Jackson, the sculptor’s granddaughter, for her help researching this work.