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Thomas Brock and the Critics - an examination of Brock's place in the New Sculpture movement

Sankey, John Anthony (2002) Thomas Brock and the Critics - an examination of Brock's place in the New Sculpture movement. PhD thesis, University of Leeds.

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Abstract

The Victoria Memorial is one of London's best known landmarks, yet its sculptor Thomas Brock (1847-1922) has not been seriously studied. This thesis considers this works in the context of the New Sculpture movement. Brock worked for eight years in the London studio of John Henry Foley, and a further eight completing Foley's unfinished commissions. Meanwhile his own distinctive style was developing, and he was one of the first of his generation (which included Hamo Thomycroft and Alfred Gilbert) to show French influence in such works as Hercules strangling Antaeus (1869), the Snake Charmer (1877) and A Moment of Peril (1880), which was purchased by the Chantrey Fund and helped secure his election as an ARA. A close relationship with Frederic Leighton was established during this period; Leighton modelled his Athlete wrestling with a Python in Brock's studio and made use of Brock's expertise in bronze work. When elected RA in 1891, Brock's diploma work was a bronze bust of Leighton and he later executed the Leighton Memorial in St Paul's Cathedral (1902). Although his ideal marble statues The Genius of Poetry (1891) and Eve (1898) won the praise of the critics, Brock concentrated more on meeting the growing demand for commemorative statues and busts. His style was vigorous and realistic, with an eye for detail and attention to surface, finish and the overall harmony of the sculpture, its pedestal and the proposed site. He was particularly successful with his portrayal of Queen Victoria, his statues for Hove and Worcester being replicated in a dozen cities in Britain and the Empire. In his most important work, the Victoria Memorial, Brock incorporated many New Sculpture allusions. Although it has received a mixed critical reception over the years, as a popular public monument it has stood the test of time. The artistic and technical merits of its sculptor deserve to be more widely recognised, as does his contribution to the New Sculpture movement generally.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Academic Units: The University of Leeds > Faculty of Performance, Visual Arts and Communications (Leeds) > Fine Art, History of Art & Cultural Studies (Leeds)
Depositing User: Ethos Import
Date Deposited: 20 May 2011 10:48
Last Modified: 07 Mar 2014 11:23
URI: http://etheses.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/1512

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