Henry Charles Fehr was a noted and prolific exponent of the New Sculpture. Born into a family of Swiss origin in London's Forest Hill, he was educated at the City of London School, before entering the Royal Academy Schools in 1885. Here he won several awards, including the Armitage Scholarship. He then worked in the studio of Sir Thomas Brock, becoming his assistant in 1893 (see Birchall, but sources vary). According to Marion Speilmann, Brock probably helped to instil "some calm" into Fehr's "exuberant energy" (138), and it was during this period that he produced a number of acclaimed statuettes. Spielmann lists Morning, Amphitrite, Favourettes, and others. His real break-through came in 1893, when he produced the plaster version of his best-known piece, The Rescue of Andromeda. This was cast in bronze in the following year, and bought by Lord Leighton and the council for the Chantrey Collection for the then considerable sum of £1,200 — a good example of the way the President of the Royal Academy encouraged young up-and-coming sculptors (see Read 294). The work was first placed inside the Tate Gallery, then, to Fehr's great dismay, moved outside in 1911 to the right of the entrance. The sculpture was not made to be "swamped by heavy masonry," Fehr complained (qtd. in Birchall); but it has stayed there ever since.
Working from his studio in the Fulham Road, Fehr went on to specialise in busts, ideal allegorical nudes, monuments and architectural sculpture. His works can be found in cities all over the country. Amongst them are the iconic Welsh dragon on the dome of Cardiff's City Hall, and the figures of the four Winds at each angle of the clock tower there; the statues and bas-reliefs on the courthouse of Middlesex Guildhall on Parliament Square, Westminster (now the Supreme Court building), and the Queen Victoria Memorial, Hull. The Mapping English Sculpture website also lists statues of John Hampden and Lord Beaconsfield in Aylesbury; and war memorials in towns all over the country: Burton-on Trent, Eastbourne, Colchester, Portsmouth, Langholm, Lockerbie, Lisburn, Keighley and Leeds. Amongst his more noted busts are those of Morris, Ruskin, Passmore Edwards and Gladstone. — Jacqueline Banerjee with George P. Landow.
Monuments and Freestanding Works
- John Harrison
- Leeds War Memorial
- James Watt
- The Fallen Angel
- The Rescue of Andromeda
- Welsh Dragon, Cardiff City Hall
- Honor, daughter of C. FitzRoy Doll
- Alderman John Harrison
- Miss Betty Greig
- Isabella and the Pot of Basil
- Frieze, Middlesex Guildhall Courthouse (Supreme Court)
- Sculpture on the eastern side of Victoria Station
- Sculpture on the tower and dome of City Hall, Cardiff
- Hotel Russell, Russell Square, London WC1
Birchall, Heather. "The Rescue of Andromeda, 1893". Tate Collection. Web. 26 June 2011.
Fehr, Henry. LARA (London Atelier of Representational Arts). Web. 26 June 2011.
“Henry Charles Fehr.” 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. 26 June 2011.
Henry Charles Fehr, R.B.S. (excellent site run by Fehr's great-great-granddaugher). Web. 26 June 2011.
Leach, Peter, and Nikolaus Pevsner.. Yorkshire West Riding: Leeds, Bradford and the North. New Haven & London: Yale University Press, 2009.
Read, Benedict. Victorian Sculpture. New York & London: Yale University Press, 1982.
Spielmann, Marion H. British Sculpture and Sculptors of To-Day. London: Cassell, 1901. Internet Archive. Web. 26 June 2011.
Last modified 17 May 2013