Thursday, June 23, 2011

War Memorial: Oakham School

This is the First World War Memorial at the Oakham School Memorial Chapel. It came to me just like this, as a page torn from a book, in a pile of ephemera which included a couple of blank subscription forms towards the building of the Chapel. I have no idea who the artist was behind this memorial but it is of striking quality and with a Christ who is unusually finely muscled: almost more naked than nude. If this artist did more work elsewhere I would very much like to see it.


Michael H said...

The sculptures at Oakham School chapel are by William Sargent (1870-1960), whose brother was headmaster when the chapel was built in 1924-25. This was less a case of nepotism and more one of the school having a very limited budget – William did the work largely as a favour for his brother. Their sister Mary (1857-1950 - the Sargents were a long-lived as well as artistic family) is better remembered than William is, as she pioneered the revival of 'true' fresco – there are paintings by her in the chapel. William Sargent trained at the Slade and spent most of his life in Italy – he carved the memorial to Florence Nightingale in Santa Croce in Florence. As the reliefs at Oakham show, his work was very influenced by Italian renaissance sculpture.

Michael H said...

A correction to my last comment - the sculptor's name is Sargant, not Sargent. Apologies.

William O'Chee said...

I had the immense good fortune to attend Oakham School, some 30 years ago. The chapel is a very moving piece of memorial architecture, strangely short for its height, which is probably attributable to the available space, and the fact the school was much smaller in 1919 than it is now. Beneath the tympanum are the names of the boys who fell in WW1, and on four panels at the same level are more reliefs, these being the four Cardinal Virtues. On side panels at the same level as the tympanum are reliefs showing soldiers carrying their wounded and such.

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