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John & Katharine Maltwood Collection

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Early Sculpture - Part 3: The London Salon (1912)

In the following year, 1912, Katharine Maltwood exhibited several works at the London Salon in the Albert Hall. Besides showing Magna Mater once more there were three pieces entitled Wounded Centaur, Mother Faun, and Bronze Sketch of a Male Figure. In addition there was a photograph of the Font at Tadworth and a copper clockface with enamelled numbers and the inscription: "The newborn hours each day shall be symbols of eternity." The latter shows the Arts and Crafts approach in technique with the heroic central figure of Father Time ascending in a swirl of drapery and throwing out winged symbols of the hours.

Wounded Centaur, by Katharine Maltwood, c.1912.
Wounded Centaur
by Katharine Maltwood, c.1912

The two architectural reliefs Wounded Centaur, cast from stone, and Mother Faun, a sketch model, were companion pieces. The former reveals the austerity and rigid adherence to compact form characteristic of much of Katharine Maltwood's sculpture. Critics often mentioned this scorn of prettiness and grace in her work and praised her style for its "masculine qualities of strength and virility". That she chose to carve figures in the round and relief for architectural settings rather than ornament was also in keeping with the new desire for functional sculpture. In this applied side of her art she was praised for the way she released her figures from the stone in such a way that their origin in the material was not forgotten. This is exemplified in the rough carving and closely bound compositional arrangement of Wounded Centaur.

Bronzed Sketch of a Male Figure, by Katharine Maltwood, c.1912.
Bronzed Sketch of a Male Figure
by Katharine Maltwood, c.1912

The Bronzed Sketch of a Male Figure gives us an idea of Katharine Maltwood's work in the round. An alternative title was Adam or Primitive Man and a wreath of small symbolic figures emerges from his raised arm. The use of these groups of small entwined figures, often struggling upwards, appears frequently in the artist's work to symbolize humanity and to increase the emotional power of the piece. In theme and treatment it suggests the influence of Rodin's style.

Font at Tadworth, by Katharine Maltwood, c.1912.
Font at Tadworth
by Katharine Maltwood, c.1912

The photograph of a font, also exhibited in the London Salon of 1912 shows Katharine Maltwood's ability in combining sculpture with architectural form. It was presented to the new Church of the Good Shepherd in Tadworth, Surrey, where the Maltwoods lived at that time. It is of Caen stone with a lead bowl and the inscription round the top is taken from Keble's Lyra Innocentium. The idea of the Trinity is the inspiring theme of the design with its triangular plan. The three reliefs at the top surrounding the basin are "The open hand", "The Agnus Dei", and "The Holy Dove descending" typifying Father, Son and Holy Ghost. At each angle of the font stands an angel about to open the gates of the church. These gates are constructed from the ancient symbols, the Greek cross, the triangle, and the circle each bearing a different image in the centre. The first pair carry the lily and the flaming heart, denoting purity and fervent zeal. The second pair show the open book and burning lamp, denoting perfect knowledge, wisdom and piety. The third pair have the anchor and crown to symbolize steadfast hope, tranquility and victory. In keeping with the nature of the commission the figures are less severe in style and owe more to the Italian Renaissance tradition. The highly complex programme of symbolism is a further example of Katharine Maltwood's concern for the didactic and moral implications of her work.

M964.1.361, Boy Tickling Trout, Katharine Maltwood, c.1912.
Boy Tickling Trout
by Katharine Maltwood, c.1900

Dating from this highly productive pre-war period was a lead fountain figure, Boy Tickling Trout. It was exhibited in 1922 at the Daily Express Women's Academy at Olympia. Later the piece was kept and used as a pond ornament at the Maltwood's various homes. The small crouched figure reaching over a rocky crag was desrihed by a critic at the time as "more realistic in treatment, but adherence to strictly correct anatomy is not allowed to interfere with the sculpturesque silhouette from any point of view".



All content on this page is copyright © 30 January, 2006
Rosemary Brown, the Maltwood Art Museum and Gallery, and the University of Victoria

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