Sculpture Journal

‘The child is father of the man’: Alfred Drury and temporality

Sculpture Journal (2015), 24, (1), 55–72.

Abstract

This article takes a thematic approach to analyse aspects of the sculpture of Alfred Drury (1856–1944), notably his concern with temporality, both as an iconographical leitmotif of his works, and as a characteristic of the ‘realistic allegory’ typical of the late nineteenth-century New Sculpture of which this artist was a key exponent. Drury’s poetic treatment of childhood, particularly in his series of pensive heads of girls exemplified by The Age of Innocence of 1897, displays a Wordsworthian awareness of the passing of time, and a dawning sense of mortality – so that the poet’s well-known lines ‘the child is father of the man’ could also be applied to Drury’s sculptural works. New archival evidence will be presented to demonstrate how Drury’s sensitive treatment of childhood could take on a wider social dimension, for example in the debates surrounding the commission of the Edward VII memorial in Sheffield.

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Author details

Thomas, Ben