Interesting Sculptures in Stratford
The Gower Memorial
(see main picture above)
The Gower memorial - This is situated in Bancroft gardens and features William Shakespeare seated at the acme overlooking figures of his literary characters featured in some of his plays.
Prince Hal, Lady Mc Beth, Hamlet and Falstaff and represent Philosophy, Tragedy, History and Comedy.
The memorial was presented to the town of Stratford in 1888 by Lord Ronald Sutherland Gower.
For more information about Lord Ronald Sutherland Gower.
(see main pictures above)
This is to be found in Henley Street and was commissioned by Anthony Bird OBE 'as a token of his esteem for the town in which he was born, lives and works and which has given him so much friendship, good fortune and pleasure'. Anthony Bird is Managing Director of the company Bird Group who also commissioned the statue of Olivier as Henry V at the Maybird Shopping Centre.
It is constructed of bronze standing on a stone plinth and features the Jester ‘Touchstone’ who was in the play ‘As you like it.’
Inscriptions include - O noble fool, a worthy fool - The fool doth think he is wise but a wise man knows himself to be a fool.
This attractive sculpture was executed by James Butler MBE of Radway and is one of many fine works by this renowned artist which include carvings and designs of the Queens Beasts in Kew Gardens, the Royal Seal of the Realm, the Jubilee coin and the 50p coin commemorating Roger Bannister’s 4 minute mile.
For more information about James Butler.
The Swan Water Fountain
(see main pictures above)
On the pavement past the back of the Royal Shakespeare Theatre, you will come to the Bancroft Gardens and as you walk past, on your right you will see a fountain with swans on the top. The fountain was sculpted by Christine Lee and unveiled by the Queen in November 1996.
The centerpiece of the fountain depicts two swans rising in flight. Swans have enjoyed royal protection for many centuries and have a special symbolic significance in Stratford-upon-Avon.
The water fountain was commissioned by Stratford-upon-Avon town council to celebrate the 800th anniversary of the granting of market rights to the town by King Richard I and granting of Borough status by the Bishop of Worcester, both in 1196.
For more information about Christine Lee.
The Shakespeare Sculptures by Greg Wyatt
Circling the Elizabethan Garden, eight Shakespearean statues by sculptor Greg Wyatt evoke The Tempest, Julius Caesar, King Lear, Hamlet, Twelfth Night, A Midsummer Night's Dream, Henry IV, Part 2, and Macbeth.
These works reflect the sculptor's response to key moments and characters in each play. They were created by Wyatt for the Great Garden at New Place in Stratford-upon-Avon. The statues were added to the Elizabethan Garden in 2003 and 2004 through the support of Barbara C. Newington, Chairman of the Newington-Cropsey Foundation and John Chwat, president of the American Friends of the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust.
||A Midsummer Night's Dream
||Henry IV Part 2
The pillar supporting each sculpture is inscribed with the particular passage that inspired it.
For more information on Greg Wyatt.
Fiddler sculpture - Part of an illuminated bronze sculpture in a multinational promenade at the Shakespeare Memorial Theatre in Stratford upon Avon, England.
Commissioned on behalf of the State of Israel by the Jordan P. and Irene Callig Snyder Foundation. It depicts the traditional Jewish fiddler of legend and folklore.
The sculpture is by Frank Meisler who was born in Danzig, educated in England and graduated with a degree in architecture from Manchester University.
He settled in Israel in 1960 and has his studio in the Old City of Jaffa.
For more information about Frank Meisler.
The bronze sculpture by John Henry Foley was probably cast for the Great Exhibition at the Crystal Palace in 1851.
The 1844 original was exhibited in Westminster Hall as a competition entry for the decoration of the new Houses of Parliament.
A resident, Mr Alfred Bullard presented this bronze copy to Stratford upon Avon Corporation, on 11 October 1932.
Another copy of the work was discovered at the Royal Albert Hall in January 1985.
J. A. Hatfield was asked to produce a smaller version of the bronze for the Art Union of London. This version was last known of in a private collection in Sweden.
The Stratford statue has been moved around the gardens several times, and is now back close to its original position, placed in April 2009 after a recent make-over for the Bancroft Gardens.
John Henry Foley (1818-1874), Irish sculptor, was born at Dublin on the 24th of May 1818. At thirteen he began to study drawing and modelling at the schools of the Royal Dublin Society, where he took several first-class prizes. In 1835 he was admitted a student in the schools of the Royal Academy, London. He first appeared as an exhibitor in 1839 with his "Death of Abel and Innocence".
Laurence Olivier as Henry V
The full length sculpture, slightly larger than life figure stands on its base clad in full armour apart from helmet which is held under the left arm. In his right hand he holds a sword horizontally above his head as if signalling victory. The figure was unveiled in 190 and stands with his back to the shops facing the carpark. The bronze weighs 1.25 tons.
Located at The Maybird Centre out of town shopping area (Birmingham Street) opened in 1990 by the Bird Group who developed the site. It was built on the site of the original scrap metal yard of Tom Bird, who, although illiterate, founded the company that is today a multi million pound, multi-national business, based on metal recycling but with interests in many different fields including property development. The sculpture seems to acknowledge the debt both Henry V and The Bird Group owe to military hardware. It cost £40,000 and was unveiled by Tim Pigott-Smith as part of the official opening of the shopping centre.
The sculpture is by Salford born sculptor John Blakeley. Born in 1928 and trained at Stockport college, John started as a portrait painter then more famously as a bronze cast sculptor.
The 'Henry V' sculpture was made over a 2 year period in his Southport studio with the assistance of Mike Lloyd-Stafford, a sculptor in his own right.
HSBC Bank (see main pictures above)
The bank (formerly Midland Bank)
is one of Stratford's few Victorian Gothic buildings. It stands on the acute angle of the junction of two streets with a pyramidal spired angle turret at the point of convergence of the two facades. Entrance is through an arch supported on pillars of Peterhead granite with Corinthian capitals at the base of the turret. It is built of red brick, with stonework, especially around the windows and decorated with red terracotta tiles of floral design, and 15 terracotta relief tiles depicting scenes from Shakespeare's plays which form a band around the building between the ground and first floors. The terracotta sculptures were produced by Samuel Barfield (see final paragraph below).
They are distributed around the building, nine on the east side (Chapel Street), five on the north side (Ely Street), and one larger than the rest, above the north-east entrance.
From far left the scenes represent: 1. King Lear, and his fool being driven out into the storm. 2. Hamlet, Act V, Sc. II, confronting Gertrude and Claudius with the poisoned cup. 3. Macbeth, the three witches. 4. Othello, and the murdered Desdemona. 5. As You Like It, a scene in the forest of Arden. 6. Two Gentlemen of Verona, Act V, Sc. IV, from left Valentine, Silvia, Proteus, and Julia. 7. A Midsummer Night's Dream, 'Bottom, thou art translated'. 8.Twelfth Night, Act III, Sc. IV, Viola and Sir Andrew Aguecheek nearly come to blows. 9. Coriolanus, with Virgilia and Volumnia. 10. (Above main entrance) The Merchant of Venice, the casket scene. 11. Anthony and Cleopatra, Act IV, Sc. IV. 12. Henry V, 'Once more into the breach'. 13. Richard II, Act III, Sc. III, Bolingbrook kneels to Richard before Flint Castle. The Bishop of Carlisle is in attendance. 14. King John, Act IV, Sc. IIII, the death of Prince Arthur. 15. Richard III, Act I, Sc. II, Gloucester asks Anne Neville to kill him.
Above the main door and inside the arch is a mosaic of Shakespeare based on the half length figure in the Holy Trinity Church overlooking Shakespeare's grave which is said to have been made fairly soon after the poets death and probably based on the death mask. On the next level upwards is the Merchant of Venice panel flanked on either side by a shield each bearing a coat of arms, on the left Birmingham, on the right Stratford. The style of the building, and of the panels shows the influence of the Arts and Crafts movement, in particular the compositions are reminiscent of Pre-Raphaelite paintings.
Samuel Barfield (1830--87)
was a stonemason living in Leicester who produced statuary, monumental masonry and all types of ecclesiastical furniture and fittings. He enjoyed a long working relationship with architect Joseph Goddard, for whom he executed the carving on the Paxton Memorial in Coventry (1868), the figures on the lower stages of the clock tower in Leicester (1868) and the sculpture on the mausoleum to Archibald Turner in Leicester cemetery (c.1870). He also worked for Birmingham architect J.H. Chamberlain, for whom he carved the architectural ornament on the Memorial Fountain to Mayor Joseph Chamberlain (1880) and the lillies-and-lattice decoration of the rose window on the School of Art (c.1885).
The leaden statue of William Shakespeare (recessed on the outside wall at first floor level) was sculpted by Peter Scheemaker and John Cheere produced the lead cast with the finished statue unveiled in 1769.
The statue was presented to the town by the great 18th century actor David Garrick, who made his name playing many of the Bard's great heroes and villains.
For more information about the Town Hall.
For more information about the sculptor Peter Scheemaker.
John Cheere (1709 – 1787) was an English sculptor, born in London. Brother of the sculptor Sir Henry Cheere, he was originally apprenticed as a haberdasher from 1725 to 1732. Among his works were a gilt equestrian statue of William III in St James's Square, London, made in 1739, and a gilded lead statue of George II for Saint Helier, Jersey, in 1751. His most lasting legacy, however, is probably his lead statues for gardens.
Shakespeare's Funerary Monument
William Shakespeare's funerary monument is located inside Holy Trinity Church, Stratford-upon-Avon, the same church in which he was baptised and buried.
The monument, by Gerard Johnson, is mounted on a wall above Shakespeare's grave. It features a bust of the poet, who holds a quill pen in one hand and a piece of paper in another. His arms are resting on a cushion. Above him is the Shakespeare family's coat of arms, on either side of which stands two allegorical figures: one, representing Labour, holds a spade, the other, representing Rest, holds a torch and a skull.
Beneath the bust is engraved a Latin epitaph and a poem in English. The Latin reads:
IVDICIO PYLIUM, GENIO SOCRATEM, ARTE MARONEM,
TERRA TEGIT, POPULUS MAERET, OLYMPUS HABET
The first line translates as "A Pylus in judgement, a Socrates in genius, a Maro in art," comparing Shakespeare to Nestor the wise King of Pylus, to the Greek philosopher Socrates, and to the Roman poet Virgil (whose last name, or cognomen was Maro). The second reads "The earth buries him, the people mourn him, Olympus possesses him," referring to Mount Olympus, the home of the Greek gods.
In modern spelling and punctuation:
Stay, passenger, why goest thou by so fast?
Read, if thou canst, whom envious Death hath placed
Within this monument: Shakespeare, with whom
Quick nature died, whose name doth deck this tomb
Far more than cost, sith [i.e. since] all that he hath writ
Leaves living art, but page, to serve his wit.
The monument was probably commissioned by Shakespeare's son-in-law John Hall. The attribution to Johnson is contained in William Dugdale's book - Antiquities of Warwickshire, published in 1656.
Gerard Johnson was a sculptor who worked in Jacboean England and thought to have created Shakespeare's funerary monument. His father, also called Gerard Johnson, came to England in 1567 from Holland. He established himself as a monumental sculptor in London, and his son followed on in his footsteps.