The following introduction to Crane's sculptural work comes from pages 157-59 of Marion Harry Spielmann's British Sculpture and Sculptors of Today (1901).
Among the leading decorators Mr. Walter Crane must be considered as a pioneer. He has taken to modelling, as to most other things, out of his innate talent and spirit ot initiative ; but, in this instance, not on a very extensive scale. As is natural, he thinks less of the sculpturesque than of the "line" character of his design, which always reminds us of his ornament and his beautiful fairy-tale illustrations. For this reason we recognise rather the fine decorative quality of his brilliant work — for he is emphatically a tête d'école who has most profoundly influenced and improved the decorative art of England — than its sculpturesque nature. Graceful in its line and composition, inexhaustible in its invention, harmonious in its symmetry, it nevertheless lacks the sculptor's touch and the strength and firmness of the trained modeller's hand. But when he leaves the flat and the figure in low-relief he appears at his best. The Mace he designed for the Corporation of Manchester might establish the reputation of any man. This work, perfect in proportion and beautifully harmonious, is in its general design in no degree hampered by all the symbolism to be introduced. The imagery will be readily appreciated. The City crest — the globe and bees — surmounts the figure of Manchester, enclosed within an "M" Beneath it is the globe of the world, the field of the City's trade, which the beaks of ships support, and their twisted sails enclose it within their ridges. Below it are the City and the National Arms, and lower again we have figures personifying the sources of the City's prosperity — the Ship Canal with its running water. Labour, Science, Commerce, Liberty, and Justice. The fish symbolise Manchester's ocean interests, which are further emphasised by the ships and the Nereids at the termination.
Carpenter, Humphrey, and Mari Prichard. Entry on Walter Crane in The Oxford Companion to Children's Literature. London: Oxford Univ. Press, corrected ed, 1985.
Crawford, Alan. "Walter Crane (1845-1915)." Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Viewed 28 May 2007.
Spielmann, Marion Harry. British Sculpture and Sculptors of Today. London: Cassell, 1901. Internet Archive. Web. 22 December 2011.
Last modified 23 July 2011