"The Spirit of Love and Truth", by Joseph Edwards (1814-1882)

Steel engraving from the Art-Journal, Vol. 6 (1867), by R. A. Artlett, following p. 28. The words on the banner read: "EVER LET LOVE AND TRUTH PREVAIL"

The Spirit of Love and Truth. Sculpted by Joseph Edwards (1814-1882). Exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1866. Sylvia Allen writes, "Mrs S. C. Hall encouraged Edwards to design and execute an overmantel relief for their home in Surrey. The result was a charming panel entitled The Angel of Love and Truth, which was exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1866 [...] and later became widely known when the design was used as the headpiece on the title page of the popular periodical, The Girls’ Own Paper." The relief was to fit a space of 15" x 6" so it is very small, and the Art-Journal commentator describes it as an example of the sculptor's "idiosyncracies," explaining that the spirit, or angel, is crowned by a star, with a halo of stars, amid dawning celestial light in which she floats "with a sense of serene and triumphant joy" (28). Nothing would have suited Mrs Hall better than a design that revealed the sculptor's predilection for the "unseen and ideal, ... the world of spirits," as the Art-Journal put it, because she herself was a convinced Spiritualist. As used for the The Girls’ Own Paper, to the first volume of which Mrs Hall was a contributor, the design is of course a great deal cruder. The angel carries the magazine's title on the banner instead of the original text.

Design as used for the magazine (Source: The Girl's Own Paper, opening)

This may be seen as one of those designs by which Edwards hoped, he said, "to lead the mind to ascend unconsciously to clear regions of lofty thought and imagination as pure as heaven, and as soul-elevating and strengthening as heart could desire" (qtd. in Wilkins 103). Ideal for the family hearth, and for girls on the verge of becoming "angels in the house"!

Scanned images, caption, commentary and formatting by Jacqueline Banerjee. You may use these images 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 it in a print one. [Click on the images to enlarge them.]


Allen, Sylvia. "Details of Sculptor: Edwards, Joseph." A Biographical Dictionary of Sculptors in Britain, 1660-1851 (The Henry Moore Foundation). Web. 2 January 2014.

The Girl's Own Paper. Vol. VIII, No. 354. 9 October 1886. Project Gutenberg. Free E-book. Web. 2 January 2014.

"The Spirit of Love and Truth. From the Alto-Relief by Joseph Edwards." The Art-Journal, London. Vol. 6 (1867): 28. Google Books. Free E-book. Web. 2 January 2014.

Wilkins, Charles. "Notable Men of Wales: Joseph Edwards, the Sculptor." The Red Dragon: The National Magazine of Wales. Vol. I (Feb.-July, 1882). Internet Archive. Web. 2 January 2014.

2 January 2014