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Later Victorian Portraits Catalogue

James Havard Thomas (1854-1921), Sculptor

Sculptor and draughtsman; born 22 December 1853, in Bristol. Scholarship to National Art Training School, London 1872–5; École des Beaux-Arts, Paris 1881–4; founder member of the New English Art Club 1886 until rift (1889), when wrecked studio and left for Italy, to return 1906; Lycidas (1904–5; Tate); a pioneer of ‘New Sculpture’ – carving direct into the marble – and acknowledged master of bas-reliefs; exh. Royal Academy 1872–1914, Grosvenor Gallery 1884–9 and with NEAC 1886–1911 (portrait busts, medallions, subject pieces); appointed first professor of sculpture, Slade School 1914; died 6 June 1921, in London.

Havard Thomas and I were students together at South Kensington in the early 1870’s. I remember him as bringing an atmosphere of the 18th century classicists into the school; he would quote Burke on the Sublime and Beautiful, and would discourse on Hamilton’s Greek vases, Hope’s costumes, etc.; and looking back now, it is evident that from those early days to the end of his career, he held consistently to the same ideal – to follow the classic tradition of fine sculpture. His life was an unceasing effort to find out how. [1]

Carol Blackett-Ord

Footnotesback to top

1) George Clausen, memoir in J. Havard Thomas memorial exh. cat., Leicester G., London, 1922; repr. Beaux Arts 1936.

Referencesback to top

Beaux Arts 1936
Commemorative Exhibition of Sculpture and Drawings by J. Havard Thomas, exh. cat., Beaux Arts Gallery, London, 1936.

Crane 1907
Crane, W., An Artist’s Reminiscences, London, 1907.

Gibson 1919
Gibson, F., ‘The Sculpture of Professor James Havard Thomas’, The Studio, vol.76, 1919, pp.79–85.

Lamb 1983
Lamb, R., James Kerr-Lawson: A Canadian Abroad, exh. cat., Art Gallery of Windsor, Ontario, 1983.

Laughton 1971
Laughton, B., Philip Wilson Steer, Oxford, 1971.

Pearson 1989
Pearson, F., ‘The Correspondence between P.H. Emerson and J. Havard Thomas’ in M. Weaver, ed., British Photography in the Nineteenth Century, Cambridge, 1989.

Pearson 2004
Pearson, F., ‘Thomas, James Havard (1853–1921)’, ODNB, Oxford, 2004.

Rothenstein 1926
Rothenstein, J., The Portrait Drawings of William Rothenstein 1889–1925, London, 1926.