Contemporary Bronze Sculptor David Williams-Ellis shares his personal highlights of the Moore Rodin
In my early 20’s, when I was receiving my classical training in Italy, I walked into the marble yard of Henraux in Massa Carrara. In the centre, amongst huge marble blocks, I was confronted by a large travertine marble carving of Henry Moore’s Arch (now in Kensington Gardens) next to what appeared to be a small shed.
I was introduced to a newspaper-hatted Italian marble artigiani who addressed me “si inglese” (‘you English’) and “venire qui” (‘come here’). He pointed to several large marble carvings, 3 meters high, and opened a cupboard to produce two macquettes, 13cms high. With a flurry of hands he pointed to the large stone sculptures and said “Henry Moore, Henry Moore“. This was my first introduction to his work.
Recently, I visited Moore’s former studio at Perry Green in Hertfordshire to see the Moore/Rodin Exhibition. I had what I can only describe as a Damascene conversion. I began to love his monumental bronze sculptures, set in landscape. The arch (as shown above) with its rich patina, scale and surface modelling (by what I can only assume to be his own hand), gives a feeling of monumentality not achieved by the Serpentine copy in Kensington Palace Gardens.
The Sheep Piece, surrounded by sheep in the field, was another highlight for me.
However, in my opinion, the best sculpture in the landscape is the large reclining figure in bronze. This gives a primitive visceral feeling which only great art can achieve.
Of course, I cannot overlook Rodin as there are many of his fine figurative bronzes in the Exhibition. To me, the subtlety of the small bronze “Cathedral” hands is one of his most sensitive pieces.
While back in the landscape, the Jean D’Aire monumental nude has great presence, but also, it is particularly evident how the modelling and patina has given life to the clenched hand.
Another striking bronze figure in the Exhibition is Rodin’s “Walking Man”, resting on a column which again displays how sculpture can work in landscape.
Too many of us see bronzes and sculptures in museums and galleries, rather than in the landscape. There are many other exciting bronzes, together with some particularly fine figure drawings to be seen in this Rodin/Moore Exhibition.
The drawings of Henry Moore’s reclining nude and Rodin’s drawing of Mother and Child demonstrate how exciting drawings for sculptures can be. Drawings by sculptors give a weight and volume rarely found in figure drawings by painters.
The drawings here by these two great Masters give a fine, sensuous example and are well worth a visit, just to see their two dimensional work alone.
This is the first time that such a significant group of Rodin’s works has been presented in the British landscape, and the first time that another artist has been shown alongside Henry Moore in the grounds and indoor spaces of his former home at Perry Green in Hertfordshire.
For further information on David Williams-Ellis and to view his gallery of bronze sculptures, portraits, and glass and silver sculptures, visit www.dwe.com.