• Firedog Finials - Alfred Stevens, Bowman Sculpture Ltd
  • Firedog Finials - Alfred Stevens, Bowman Sculpture Ltd
  • Firedog Finials - Alfred Stevens, Bowman Sculpture Ltd
  • Firedog Finials - Alfred Stevens, Bowman Sculpture Ltd
  • Firedog Finials - Alfred Stevens, Bowman Sculpture Ltd
  • Firedog Finials - Alfred Stevens, Bowman Sculpture Ltd
  • Firedog Finials - Alfred Stevens, Bowman Sculpture Ltd
  • Firedog Finials - Alfred Stevens, Bowman Sculpture Ltd
Click image to enlarge

Firedog Finials

Alfred Stevens

(English, 1818-1875)

Bronze with dark and light brown patination
Height: 14" (37cm)

Conceived and cast circa 1850-1857


Although the critic Edmund Gosse did not coin the term ‘New Sculpture’ until 1894, Stevens’ work provided an early challenge to the somewhat stale state of academic English sculpture already in the mid-19th century. The artist not only assimilated influences from Renaissance Italy, but also managed to translate such influences into a host of architectural and industrial designs which would inform the next generation of sculptors, architects and designers. Indeed, even Leighton’s seminal Athlete Struggling with a Python owes much to Stevens’ own Truth and Falsehood with its twisting depiction of combat between man and beast.

Alfred Stevens, Truth and Falsehood, plaster, 1857, Victoria & Albert Museum, London

Stevens joined his father’s decorating workshop at the age of ten, assisting him with house painting and joinery. In 1833, he was sponsored by the Rector Samuel Bet to travel to Italy and pursue an education in the fine arts. It was whilst studying in Rome and Florence that the young artist developed a strong inclination for the Italian Renaissance, particularly the work of Michelangelo.

In 1842, Stevens returned to England. He failed to secure the contract for the decoration of the Houses of Parliament, and thus he turned to teaching, spending two years as a tutor at the New School of Design in London.

In 1850, he took the position of chied artist at Henry E. Hoole & Co., manufacturers of ornamental stove grates and fenders. It was whilst in this position that Stevens designed the present firedogs, which were cast by the same firm in 1852. The models clearly show the influence of Michelangelo and, as the art-historian Susan Beattie asserts, these homely firedogs are ‘transformed into heroic figures that echo, in their freedom of power, the ignudi of the Sistine Chapel ceiling.’

Upon his return to London in 1852, Stevens was commissioned to design railings for the British Museum, topped with 25 ornate casts of lions. Following this he was given little large-scale work until 1856, when he started working on the Wellington Monument in St Paul’s Cathedral, London.

Alfred Stevens, Wellington Memorial Monument, 1856-857, St Paul’s Cathedral, London

The forty-foot structure features a sarcophagus that supports the recumbent figure of the Duke of Wellington. A marble canopy overlooks the effigy, decorated in the style of the late Renaissance period. Stevens’ most famous works, the composite bronze sculptures of Valor and Cowardice and Truth and Falsehood, which echo the present firedogs, flank it on either side.

Alfred Stevens, Valour and Cowardice, plaster, 1856, Victoria & Albert Museum, London

Download Exhibition Catalogue for Alfred Stevens

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The New Sculpture Movement


2018 Exhibition Catalogue

Works by Alfred Stevens

Browse By Artist

Gustinus Ambrosi, Bowman Sculpture Ltd

Ambrosi, Gustinus

(Austrian, 1893-1975)

Michael Ayrton, Bowman Sculpture Ltd

Ayrton, Michael

(British, 1921-1975)

Gilbert Bayes, Bowman Sculpture Ltd

Bayes, Gilbert

(British, 1872-1953)

Pietro Calvi, Bowman Sculpture Ltd

Calvi, Pietro

(Italian, 1833-1884)

Jean-Baptiste Carpeaux, Bowman Sculpture Ltd

Carpeaux, Jean-Baptiste

(French, 1827-1875)

A. E. Carrier-Belleuse, Bowman Sculpture Ltd

Carrier-Belleuse, A. E.

(French, 1824-1887)

 Carrier-Belleuse & Rodin, Bowman Sculpture Ltd

Carrier-Belleuse & Rodin

(French, 1824-1887 and 1840-1917)

Lynn Chadwick, Bowman Sculpture Ltd

Chadwick, Lynn

(British, 1914-2003)

Geoffrey Clarke, Bowman Sculpture Ltd

Clarke, Geoffrey

(British, 1924-2014)

Jean-Baptiste Clesinger, Bowman Sculpture Ltd

Clesinger, Jean-Baptiste

(French, 1814-1883)

Charles Henri Cordier, Bowman Sculpture Ltd

Cordier, Charles Henri

(French, 1827-1905)

Aimé-Jules Dalou, Bowman Sculpture Ltd

Dalou, Aimé-Jules

(French, 1838-1902)

Francis Derwent Wood, Bowman Sculpture Ltd

Derwent Wood, Francis

(British, 1871-1926)

Alfred Drury, Bowman Sculpture Ltd

Drury, Alfred

(English, 1856-1944)

Sir Jacob Epstein, Bowman Sculpture Ltd

Epstein, Sir Jacob

(British, 1880-1959)

Pierre Félix Fix-Masseau, Bowman Sculpture Ltd

Fix-Masseau, Pierre Félix

(French, 1869-1937)

Sir George Frampton, Bowman Sculpture Ltd

Frampton, Sir George

(English, 1860-1926)

Louis Julien (Jules) Franceschi, Bowman Sculpture Ltd

Franceschi, Louis Julien (Jules)

(French , 1825-1893)

 George Frederick Watts & Thomas Wren, Bowman Sculpture Ltd

George Frederick Watts & Thomas Wren

(British )

Jean-Léon Gérôme, Bowman Sculpture Ltd

Gérôme, Jean-Léon

(French, 1824-1904)

Sir Alfred Gilbert, Bowman Sculpture Ltd

Gilbert, Sir Alfred

(British, 1854-1934)

Sir William Goscombe John, Bowman Sculpture Ltd

Goscombe John, Sir William

(British, 1860-1952)

Frederick James Halnon, Bowman Sculpture Ltd

Halnon, Frederick James

(British, 1881-1958)

Herbert Hampton, Bowman Sculpture Ltd

Hampton, Herbert

(British, 1862-1929)

Adrian Jones, Bowman Sculpture Ltd

Jones, Adrian

(English, 1846-1938)

Fritz Klimsch, Bowman Sculpture Ltd

Klimsch, Fritz

(German, 1870-1960)

Gerald Laing, Bowman Sculpture Ltd

Laing, Gerald

(UK, 1936-2011)

Frederic Lord  Leighton, Bowman Sculpture Ltd

Leighton, Frederic Lord

(English, 1830-1896)

Sir Edgar Bertram Mackennal, Bowman Sculpture Ltd

Mackennal, Sir Edgar Bertram

(Australian, 1863-1931)

Marino Marini, Bowman Sculpture Ltd

Marini, Marino

(Italian, 1901-1980)

Robert Tait McKenzie, Bowman Sculpture Ltd

McKenzie, Robert Tait

(Canadian, 1867-1938)

Antonin Mercié, Bowman Sculpture Ltd

Mercié, Antonin

(French, 1845-1916)

Ivan Mestrovic, Bowman Sculpture Ltd

Mestrovic, Ivan

(Croatian, 1883-1962)

Constantin Meunier, Bowman Sculpture Ltd

Meunier, Constantin

(Belgian, 1831-1905)

George Minne, Bowman Sculpture Ltd

Minne, George

(Belgian, 1866-1941)

Henry Moore, Bowman Sculpture Ltd

Moore, Henry

(English, 1898-1986)

Edward Onslow-Ford, Bowman Sculpture Ltd

Onslow-Ford, Edward

(English, 1852-1901)

Eduardo Paolozzi, Bowman Sculpture Ltd

Paolozzi, Eduardo

(British, 1924-2005)

Pablo Picasso, Bowman Sculpture Ltd

Picasso, Pablo

(Spanish, 1881-1973)

Charles d'Orville Pilkington Jackson, Bowman Sculpture Ltd

Pilkington Jackson, Charles d'Orville

(British, 1887-1973)

Enzo Plazzotta, Bowman Sculpture Ltd

Plazzotta, Enzo

(Italian, 1921-1981)

Hiram Powers, Bowman Sculpture Ltd

Powers, Hiram

(American, 1805-1873)

Jean-Jacques Pradier, Bowman Sculpture Ltd

Pradier, Jean-Jacques

(Swiss, 1790-1852)

Sir William Reid Dick, Bowman Sculpture Ltd

Reid Dick, Sir William

(English, 1879-1961)

Charles Ricketts, Bowman Sculpture Ltd

Ricketts, Charles

(English, 1866-1931)

Auguste Rodin, Bowman Sculpture Ltd

Rodin, Auguste

(French, 1840-1917)

 Rodin and Carrier-Belleuse, Bowman Sculpture Ltd

Rodin and Carrier-Belleuse

(French, (1840-1917 and 1824-1887))

Eric Stanford, Bowman Sculpture Ltd

Stanford, Eric

(British, Born 1932)

Alfred Stevens, Bowman Sculpture Ltd

Stevens, Alfred

(English, 1818-1875)

Arthur Strasser, Bowman Sculpture Ltd

Strasser, Arthur

(Austrian, 1854-1927)

Raymond Sudre, Bowman Sculpture Ltd

Sudre, Raymond

(French, 1870-1962)

Thomas Thornycroft, Bowman Sculpture Ltd

Thornycroft, Thomas

(British, 1815 – 1885)

Sir William Hamo Thornycroft, Bowman Sculpture Ltd

Thornycroft, Sir William Hamo

(English, 1850-1925)

Albert Toft, Bowman Sculpture Ltd

Toft, Albert

(English, 1862-1949)

Reuben Townroe, Bowman Sculpture Ltd

Townroe, Reuben

(British, 1835-1911)

Anton Van Wouw, Bowman Sculpture Ltd

Van Wouw, Anton

(South African, 1862-1945)

Arthur George Walker, Bowman Sculpture Ltd

Walker, Arthur George

(British, 1861 - 1936)

Ossip Zadkine, Bowman Sculpture Ltd

Zadkine, Ossip

(Russian/French, 1890-1967)