Sir Alfred Gilbert (1854-1934)

Born in London, Alfred Gilbert was the eldest son of a professional musician. Famous for Eros in Piccadilly Circus, London, Gilbert had started the Clarence Tomb at Windsor Castle, in 1892 but left the country without finishing the work , following to a disagreement with the Royal Family. He returned to England in 1926 to complete the Clarence Tomb and was given the commission for the memorial for Queen Alexandra. This was unveiled on 8th June 1932 and the next day Alfred was knighted. He continued to work until the Summer of 1934 and died on November 4th 1934 (see his entry in the Oxford DNB).

There are two bronze busts by him in the Sculpture collection, The Chatelaine and the Virtuoso. They were commissioned by the Towneley sub-committee in 1925 in remembrance of Lady O'Hagan and Edward Stocks Massey. The commission was arranged by Walter Gilbert The busts were delivered in November 1926 and were rejected by the sub-committee. Maurice O'Hagan was astounded by the "complete and utter want of resemblance" of the bust to his mother. The busts were finally purchased from Walter Gilbert in 1927.

Letters between Walter Gilbert and the sub-committee relating to the commission have survived and can be found in the history files. A more detailed account of the commission is available as a pdf from www.atoz.myzen.co.uk/museum/downloads .


Author: tk - August 2016