1902 Encyclopedia > Sculpture > English Sculpture - 17th Century.

(Part 9)

English Sculpture - 17th Century.

During the troublous times of the Reformation sculpture, like the other arts, continued to decline. Of 17th century monumental effigies that of Sir Francis Vere (d. 1607) in the north transept at Westminster is one of the best, though its design—a recumbent effigy overshadowed by a slab covered with armour, upborne by four kneeling figures of men-at-arms—is almost an exact copy of the tomb of Engelbert II. of Vianden-Nassau. The finest bronze statues of this century are those of George Villiers, duke of Buckingham (d. 1628), and his wife at the northeast of Henry VII.'s chapel. The effigy of the duke, in rich armour of the time of Charles I., lies with folded hands in the usual mediaeval pose. The face is fine and well modelled and the casting very good. The allegorical figures at the foot are caricatures of the style of Michelangelo, and are quite devoid of merit, but the kneeling statues of the duke's children are designed with grace and pathos. A large number of very handsome marble and alabaster tombs were erected throughout England during the 17th century. The effigies are poor and coarse, but the rich architectural ornaments are effective and often of beautiful materials, alabaster being mixed with various richly coloured marbles in a very skilful way. Nicholas Stone (d. 1647), who worked under the supervision of Inigo Jones, appears to have been the chief English sculptor of his time. The De Vere and Villiers monuments are usually attributed to him. One of the best public monuments of London is the bronze equestrian statue of Charles I. at Charing Cross, which was overthrown and hidden during the protectorate of Cromwell, but replaced at the Restoration in 1660. It is very nobly modelled and was produced under Italian influence by a French sculptor called Hubert Le Sceur (d. 1670). The standing bronze statue of James II. behind the Whitehall banqueting room, very poorly designed but well executed, was the work of Grinling Gibbons (1648-1721), a native of Holland, who was chiefly famed for his extraordinary skill in carving realistic fruit and flowers in pear and other white woods. Many rich and elaborate works of his exist at Trinity College, Oxford, at Cambridge, Chatsworth, and several other places in England. In the early part of the 18th century he worked for Sir Christopher Wren, and carved the elaborate friezes of the stalls and screens in St Paul's Cathedral and in other London churches.


560-2 See Arendt, Château de Vianden, Paris, 1884.

560-3 The Villiers monument is evidently the work of two sculptors working in very opposite styles.

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