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Later Victorian Portraits Catalogue

Sir Alfred Gilbert (1854-1934), Sculptor and goldsmith

Sculptor and goldsmith; born 12 August 1854, in London. Entered Joseph Edgar Boehm’s studio 1872 and studied at Heatherley’s 1872–3 and Royal Academy Schools 1873–5; married first cousin Alice Gilbert 1876; lived in Paris and Rome 1876–84; exh. Perseus Arming (Grosvenor G., 1882), Icarus (RA 1884); elected ARA 1887, RA 1892 (resigned 1908); declared bankrupt 1901; lived in exile in Bruges and Rome from 1903; married his housekeeper Stéphanie Quaghebeur 1918; returned to England 1926; reinstated RA and knighted 1932; died 4 November 1934, in London.

Gilbert made innovative use of the lost-wax method. Important commissions include the Shaftesbury Memorial (1886, unveiled 1893, Piccadilly Circus, London); the tomb of the Duke of Clarence (1892, completed 1928, Albert Memorial Chapel, Windsor); and the memorial to Queen Alexandra (1926, unveiled 1932, Marlborough Gate, London).

There are few portraits of Gilbert and none of these is the great work for posterity it should have been. The best was done by Seymour Lucas, R.A., when the sculptor was thirty-eight. Francis Petrus Paulus, Gilbert’s friend in Bruges, did a characteristic oil-painting and a good etching. It is to be regretted that Sir William Orpen, who wanted to paint the sculptor about 1926, could not induce him to sit […] what a grand character-study Orpen could have made! Albert Toft did a conscientious portrait-bust in old age. It is very like him in his best benevolent mood.[1]

Carol Blackett-Ord

Footnotesback to top

1) Bury 1954, p.iii.

Referencesback to top

Baroda 1981
Catalogue of the Collection, Maharaja Fatesingh Museum, Baroda, 1981.

Bradshaw 1958
Bradshaw, P.V., Brother Savages and Guests, London, 1958.

Bury 1954
Bury, A., Shadow of Eros: A Biographical and Critical Study of the Life and Works of Sir Alfred Gilbert, London, 1954.

Dorment 1985
Dorment, R., Alfred Gilbert, New Haven and London, 1985.

Dorment et al. 1986
Dorment, R., and others, Alfred Gilbert: Sculptor and Goldsmith, exh. cat., Royal Academy, London, 1986.

Dorment 2004
Dorment, R. ‘Gilbert, Sir Alfred (1854–1934)’, ODNB, Oxford, 2004.

Edwards 2006
Edwards, J., Alfred Gilbert’s Aestheticism: Gilbert amongst Whistler, Wilde, Leighton, Pater and Burne-Jones, Aldershot, 2006.

Gould 2004
Gould, V.F., G.F. Watts: The Last Great Victorian, New Haven and London, 2004.

Hamilton 1921
Hamilton, J.M., Men I Have Painted, London, 1921.

Hart-Davis 1972
Hart-Davis, R., A Catalogue of the Caricatures of Max Beerbohm, London, 1972.

Hatton 1903
Hatton, J., ‘The Life and Work of Alfred Gilbert R.A., M.V.O., L.L.D.’, Easter Art Annual, 1903, pp.1–32.

Hind 1926
Hind, C.L., Naphtali: Being Influences and Adventures while Earning a Living by Writing, London, 1926.

McAllister 1929
McAllister, I.G., Alfred Gilbert, London, 1929.

Robinson [1892]
Robinson, R.W., Members and Associates of the Royal Academy of Arts, 1891. Photographed in their Studios by Ralph W. Robinson of Redhill, n.p., [1892].

Ward 1923
Ward, E.A., Recollections of a Savage, London, 1923.

Watson 1907
Watson, A., The Savage Club: A Medley of History, Anecdote and Reminiscence, London, 1907.