or inventiveness, largeness of style, perfect adaptation of means to an end, Alfred Stevens as sculptor, and more especially as ornamentalist, has not been equalled in England. Will the visitor but take the occasion to inspect carefully the details even of the Wellington Monument, of which the sketch model is at Burlington House? The two great groups of figures, Truth and Falsehood, Courage and Cowardice, are indeed hardly details. They are principal features; and were ever principal features more nobly conceived and executed? But the skill of the man, his flexibility and readiness of resource, are shown in his treatment of the various reliefs. How effectively he can contrast one with another! And in frieze and cornice how he displays his sense of the patterning of a given space! What dignity is in his work; and how directly is he the descendant of Michelangelo in design, and of Raphael in occasional draughtsmanship! The spirit of the Renaissance is in him; nor does he lack the technique to properly embody it. Would that he had been permitted to carry out, not alone the greater portion of the Wellington Monument (for even that, it must be remembered, at St. Paul's is not in its complete state) and the decorations of Dorchester House, which include what must be the very finest of modern mantelpieces, but the splendid bronze door which, in emulation of a great Florentine, he had designed for tbe Museum of Practical Geology in a narrow West End street; and still more the monument which was to commemorate the site of the first Great Exhibition of 1851!
Many a drawing, some in red chalk (these are chiefly life-studies), some with the fine pencil-point, attest the largeness of Alfred Stevens's touch, and the fertility and appropriateness of his designs. His decoration on a dagger, his decoration of a plate, his scheme for the decoration of the huge domed Reading-Room at the British Museum, alike display the power, the grace, the appropriateness which were his characteristics. . . . He stood alone in his own day; he would stand alone in a sense were he living now in ours — alone in actual achievement. But there might certainly be counted upon at the present time, in the first place, a band of comrades, hardly his equals, but his willing admirers; and, in the second, a public much larger and more sympathetic than any which, in the sluggish days of some thirty years ago, it was his privilege to address — his obligation to work for. [149-50]
Wedmore, Frederick. "Old Masters and Deceased British Artists at the Royal Academy." The Magazine of Art. London: Cassell, 1890. 145-50.
Last modified 22 May 2014