This essay first appeared in Studio International, Vol. 54 (Nov. 1914-Feb.1915), pp. 84-99. It was scanned from the Internet Archive copy of the issue, contributed by Robarts Library, University of Toronto. The images appear in the article, on the pages indicated here. You may use them without prior permission for any scholarly or educational purpose as long as you (1) credit the source and (2) link your document to this URL in a web document or cite the Victorian Web in a print one. [Click on all the images to enlarge them, and for more information about them.] — Jacqueline Banerjee
Design for the Welsh National Memorial Association (p. 84).
The Royal College of Art is noted for the high achievements of its pupils, and this year it has again added to the triumph of Englishmen in Rome by producing the winner of the Grand Prix in the person of Mr. Charles Sargeant Jagger.
My first impression of his work was received three years ago, during his student days under Prof. Lantéri. He was then busily engaged on a sculptural relief, illustrating Rossetti's "Blessed Damosel," which struck me as possessing certain qualities quite apart from the ordinary, and when writing at the time on modem sculpture I expressed the conviction that Jagger was destined to occupy a high place amongst sculptors at no very distant date. This prediction is now being verified in a series of poetical themes, showing an individual and vigorous personality.
Design for a Relief (p.91).
Mr. Jagger is modest in the hour of his success, and though he can discourse eloquently on the Greek sculptures, art in the abstract, and such eminent masters as Rodin and Gilbert, for whom he has an unbounded admiration, he is very averse to talking of his own achievements, for he never experiences any glow of satisfaction from his own efforts. But the "divine discontent" is the heritage of the true striver after perfection, the reason doubtless being that the artist's vision grows larger as he advances in power, consequently it leaves him always the same distance from his great ideals as on the first day that he started to tread the thorny path of art.
Early Life and Education
It has been said that all art is the outcome of its own environment, and in a sense this applies to individuals as well as nations. It is always interesting to trace the early influences which shape the career of the artist. A native of Yorkshire, Mr. Jagger spent his earliest years in the busy industrial centre, Sheffield, and though such an environment would seem to be at variance with the artistic temperament, yet the revivifying effect of a city's ever-changing influences has the same value to the sculptor as to the dramatist in kindling the vital spark.
His first introduction to plastic art was an incident of his childhood which stands out in his memory very clearly. Wandering with his father on Whitby Sands one day they came across a man modelling a sphinx in the clay indigenous to the locality, and as they watched the process the idea arose in the boy's mind that he must be a sculptor, and he distinctly remembers the thrill of happiness which accompanied a decision from which he never once wavered. Later on he must have encountered the toil inseparable from the sculptor's life with its many difficulties and hours of discouragement, for "art is not a pleasure trip: it is a battle and a mill that grinds." Yet he never regretted his early choice of a profession, and as events have turned out he has no reason to do so now.
Design for a Tomb (Royal College of Art Diploma Work), p. 87.
His school-days were an ordeal to him, and he can sympathise with the poet Keats, who never knew his lessons, and was always at the bottom of [87/88] his class. It is surely an indictment of school systems that so few [so many?] of the men who have risen above their fellow men, should have found little or no pleasure in recalling their school-days.
But when Jagger was placed at the Sheffield Art School he made rapid progress at once. He first of all leamt drawing, and became a metal engraver, then he turned to modelling in the daytime, and taught drawing at evening-classes. He was leading a very strenuous life at this period, for he was also learning to express what was in his mind, and he soon produced some remarkable work such as Man and the Maelstrom and Prometheus Bound, both of which were created before he was eighteen.
"How sweet is mortal sovranty [sic]." From a Drawing [illustrating a stanza in Omar Khayyam (facing p. 92).
About this time he was greatly influenced by Rodin and Alfred Gilbert. Though finding the Greeks wonderful, Mr. Jagger looked for something they lacked, and is to-day more in sympathy with the aims of the modern schools. He was soon, however, to pass beyond any other's influence and create himself. "Be your own star" is Gilbert's oft-repeated admonition to young artists, and Jagger realised that vital sculpture depends upon absolute sincerity, and that it must spring from the deepest emotions of the artist.
At the Royal College of Art
"Professor Lantéri" from a pencil drawing (p.97).
It was almost inevitable that Mr. Jagger should come under the notice of Prof. Lantéri, since nearly all the best talent from the provinces finds its way to the Royal College of Art, South Kensington, in time. Having gained the School Scholarship, Jagger came to London, and this was the most fortunate thing that could have happened to him.
He speaks very gratefully of the seven valuable years that followed. Prof. Lantéri has a rare genius for teaching. He never tries to bend any budding individuality out of its evident native tendency; he watches it with the greatest sympathy (the student being all unconscious that he is being closely observed), and he endeavours to fortify it by directing the attention of the student to the greatest that has been done in like kind. He sees [91/92] to the heart of the work, and the magnitude, or otherwise, of a student's efforts, and no real merit escapes him however inadequately expressed.
Left to right: (a) Design for a bronze door (p. 92). (b) Christian Vandalism — Design for Relief (p. 90). (c) A Maker of Modelling Tools (p. 95). (d) "Return of the Prodigal" — Design for a Relief (p. 85).
When Mr. Jagger first entered the Royal College he received no criticisms for some time, but Prof. Lantéri knew what he was capable of doing better than he did himself. It is thus that he diagnoses each pupil's case. Mr. Jagger gained several prizes, and the Travelling Scholarship for a bronze door design, made for a private art collection. He spent some months in Rome and Venice, and one can imagine what a joy this visit must have proved to the young sculptor: he found motives here for some later works. For example, the pencil drawing Christian Vandalism was suggested by seeing some of the priceless works of art in Venice which had been destroyed by ruthless and bigoted iconoclasts. Mr. Jagger has shown great skill in the composition and treatment of this subject. He draws in an understanding way, and his wonderful knowledge of form enables him to express his meaning very clearly, but his technical skill is simply a means of expression, and he makes it subordinate to greater things. His drawing in sanguine chalk, of an illustration called Return of the Prodigal is full of strength and dramatic feeling; indeed it has the quality that touches the highest human emotions. That of Francis, an old toolmaker, was hastily done in a few minutes, just on the spur of the moment, when the model happened to be reading a paper in the college hall. The pencil drawing of Prof Lantéri is a subtle living presentment, as all who know the professor will agree.
Subjects and Mediums
Left to right: Cathal and the Woodfolk. (b) Study from Life (female) (p. 88). (c) Seated Boy (Study from Life, male) (p. 89).
Bacchanalian subjects have an attraction for Mr. Jagger, as giving plenty of scope for the imaginative faculty with which he is well endowed. One sees it at work in the small drawing in sanguine chalk reproduced among the accompany-[95/96] ing illustrations; there is something of Carpeaux's spirit in the joyous quality of life and movement and living flesh, whilst the arrangement and variety of types, and above all the ease with which it is done cannot fail to arrest attention. The same qualities are to be observed in his sculpture. His Cathal and the Woodfolk exhibited this year at Burlington House, though classical in treatment, has the unique quality of being very much alive; in fact the whole work is instinct with life and movement to a degree that is particularly noticeable. One is struck by the variety of types, nor will the naturally expressed action of the young girl on the right, with the unconventional treatment of the pose of the arm and hand, be overlooked. Another thing which occurs to one's notice is the perfect modelling of the smallest detail, the sure outcome of a well-disciplined power of observation, and a very sound technical training. Very expressive are the feet and hands of each separate figure in the group. One is irresistibly reminded of youth and joie de vivre in this piece of work. The Study of a Girl from Life was also exhibited at the Royal Academy, and again the quality of living flesh is apparent, as it is also in the male study from the life.
Left: Torfida (p.96). Right: Spring (p.92).
In the statuette called Torfrida the arrangement of drapery is unique; the material falls in most unstudied folds without any conventional prearrangement; yet the effect is good. It is a dramatic and convincing work, and the beautiful face of the wife of Hereward the Wake expresses intense sorrow and tragedy. A joyous feeling of youth and life is found in the relief called Spring, a composition full of charming figures.
Left: Design for a Shield (p.99). Right: Silver pendant set with precious stones (p.96)
The illustrations show examples of Mr. Jagger's skill in various mediums, for he does not limit himself to any one branch, but expresses his ideas in clay and marble, engraving on metal, drawings in pencil and chalk, in silver, as the Design for a Shield, and he delights in making jewellery. An example is shown of a fairy-like pendant in silver set with precious stones, but except as a pastime he is not likely to do much of this class of work, for larger and more serious things claim his attention.
Mr. Jagger has many things in his favour: he has begun well, he is young and consequently has plenty of time before him. Above all, he has had a training in art such as less fortunate student might well envy, and it is an excellent sign that he delights in hard work — he is always learning. He will therefore do greater things yet, for he has not come to his full strength.
Photograph accompanying the Times obituary.
It is helpful to know how Jagger's life developed after this. He won the Rome Scholarship in Sculpture in 1914, but was unable to take it up because of the war, and in 1915 joined the Artists' Rifles. As an officer in the Worcestershire Regiment, he went out to Gallipoli, then served in France and Belgium. He was wounded three times and served with such distinction that he was awarded the Military Cross. Subsequently, he became best known for his war memorials. As a fellow of the Royal Society of British Sculptors, he was twice a gold medallist. He received the first gold medal for the Royal Artillery Memorial at Hyde Park, and the second when his Portland stone figures of St George and Britannia were installed at the entrance to Thames House, Millbank. Despite the award, the former was not as celebrated then as it is now: the Times obituary described it as a "collaboration between architect, sculptor, and a committee," and found the result to be "an unsatisfactory compromise between special knowledge and artistic ability." In particular, it considered "the bronze figures of Artillerymen" to be "not well related to the general mass, or to the reliefs, in scale." Nevertheless, it did praise the figures for having "the moral and material 'heftiness,' of strong men in their working equipment, for which Jagger had a sort of genius." The war memorial at Paddington and the figure of Shackleton at the Royal Geographical Society are also singled out for special mention in the obituary. All are much admired now, especially the Royal Artillery Memorial, which is felt to be "a highly original conception" (Compton, "Jagger, Charles Sargeant").
Jagger continued to be recognised for his ability in other areas: as a result of his metalwork skills, for example, he was appointed an additional member of the Royal Mint Advisory Committee on Coins, Medals, Seals, and Decorations in 1932. He was working on his statue of King George V for New Delhi when he died unexpectedly on 16 November 1935, leaving behind his second wife, with whom he had had two of his three children. Of the three children, one, Gillian Jagger, became a well-known sculptor herself. The obituary ends with a note from Jagger's friend Sir William Reid Dick, describing his early death as an "irreparable loss." — Jacqueline Banerjee
Compton, Ann. "Jagger, Charles Sargeant (1885–1934)." Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Ed. David Cannadine. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004. Online ed. Web. 31 May 2017.
_____. The Sculpture of Charles Sargeant Jagger. Much Hadham, Herts: The Henry Moore Foundation; Aldershot: Lund Humphries, 2004.
"Mr. C. S. Jagger, A.R.A." Times. 17 November 1934: 7. The Times Digital Archive. Web. 31 May 2017.
Created 31 May 2017