Introduction

The following biographical introduction to Colton's work comes from pages 144-47 of Marion Harry Spielmann's British Sculpture and Sculptors of Today (1901).

Mr. Colton is another of the Lambeth School men who have made their mark. He also passed through the Roval Academy schools under Sir Edgar Boehm and Mr. Armstead, but he had for some time before been a contributor to the exhibitions. After he had studied in Paris, Mr. Colton first drew notice to himself with the fountain erected in Hyde Park, executed to the order of H. M.'s First Commissioner of Works during a lucid artistic interval of the Government.

The views of the Memorial Fountain in Hyde Park. [Click on the photographs to enlarge them.]

The influence of Mr. Alfred Gilbert seems to be in this charming production; but it is open to the criticism that the figure is abruptly cut off at the middle. "The Girdle" followed — a graceful female nude, in which the flesh is like flesh, and with the plastic quality more emphasised than the glyptic. The statue, first exhibited in plaster in 1898, was afterwards bought for the Chantrey Collection when cast in bronze, and placed in the Gallery at Millbank [now the Tate Britain].

Left to right: (a) The Girle, (b) The Image Finder, (c) The Crown of Love, and (d) The Wavelet. “By rippling shallows of the lisping lake.”.

A great stride was made in 1899 with "The Image Finder," a work of more originality, strength, and sculpturesque motive than of obvious grace. Then followed "The Crown of Love," executed under the influence of M. Rodin — a highly accomplished composition, a little involved, but charming in sentiment. In 1901 Mr. Colton showed "The Wavelet: By rippling shallows of the lisping lake." It is a figure well worthy of his rising reputation, although failing to sustain in action all the beauty of the forms. It must not be forgotten that Mr. Colton, who has executed several important decorations in coloured plaster, was one of the first of the younger men to help reintroduce artistic enamels into England.

Mr. Colton's work has a strong Parisian flavour, from which he has not yet wholly freed himself. But the sculptor is young and endowed with a strong individuality; and these qualities, affecting performance already so good, will inevitablv bring him more to the front. There seems to be an occasional tendencv in the artist to introduce "an ugly bit "for the fun of it” — as in the accentuated shoulder of the man in the "Crown of Love," and in the foot in "The Wavelet." The latter statue is charmingh' modelled and drawn, but the right foot is noticeably ugly in the twist given to it in a strange and unusual, though quite natural action. A point is made of it, and by that it loses. In Rodin, of course, we often see the same pecularity; but then it is a manner with him, and so frequent is it that it becomes a part of his strange force and spirit — to which in so great an artist, if we do not approve it, we at least must bow.

Mr. Colton's work is never common. It belongs perhaps to "the fleshy school," and is well drawn and modelled. It is realistic, and is some- times in danger of suggesting mainly studies of the nude; but this is because so far he has not given much proof of the power of design that is almost certainly in him. His figures are well arranged; he is healthy and rich in workmanship, with a keen appreciation of the relation of "values," and there is besides in all he does an excellent sense of style.

Captain Selous

Works

Architectural sculpture and indoor decoration

References

Royal Artillery Boer War Memorial

Beattie, Susan. The New Sculpture. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1983.

W(illiam) Robert Colton, RA.” Mapping the Practice and Profession of Sculpture in Britain and Ireland 1851-1951. University of Glasgow History of Art and HATII, online database 2011. Web. 23 June 2011.

Spielmann, Marion Harry. British Sculpture and Sculptors of Today. London: Cassell, 1901. Internet Archive. Web. 22 December 2011.




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