Stamped E Onslow Ford, London 1889 and Arthur Collie 39B Old Bond Street, London May 8th 1890
Bronze with brown and light green patina
Height: 23 7/16'' (59.5 cm)
Conceived in 1887 and cast circa 1890
Part of his series of ideal nudes, Onslow Ford’s full-size plaster of Peace was exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1887, where it was considered by the critic Edmund Gosse to be ‘the most delightful contribution to the exhibition’. Three years later a life-size bronze was also shown; this work is now part of the Walker Art Gallery collection, Liverpool.
Peace is here depicted as a youthful female figure, following its traditional iconography, holding the palm branch of victory in her right hand and a dove in her left, standing on a piece of armour—the symbol of subdued war. Ford’s innovation does not relate to the subject’s iconographic attributes, but rather to its composition. Peace is represented as a lively young girl and captured mid-movement, devoid of the stiffness that would have characterised ancient or neoclassical depictions of the same subject.
Peace was one of Ford’s first ever works to be cast in bronze in a reduced scale for Arthur L. Collie. Collie’s business had opened in 1889, sharing his premises with the renowned fine art dealer Thomas Agnews at 39 Old Bond Street. His endeavour was fundamental for the spreading of New Sculpture aesthetics to a wide British public in the form of affordable, high-quality reductions of popular artists’ works.
On 31 May 1890, an article by an anonymous contributor appeared on the London Saturday Review, addressing the novelty of Arthur Collie’s endeavour. In the article, the author states how ‘Mr Onlsow Ford’s elegant and spirited work specially lends itself to reproduction in miniature. No specimen in Mr Collie’s gallery is more delightful than the Peace, a little nude female figure in a caressing and conciliating attitude, waving a palm branch’. Five years later, Gosse’s article in Magazine of Art, entitled ‘Sculpture in the House’, Peace was illustrated in domestic settings alongside statuettes by Frederic Leighton and Hamo Thornycroft, demonstrating the success of Collie’s undertaking and the widespread popularity enjoyed by the ‘New’ sculptors.