“The Fawcett Memorial in Westminster Abbey,” by Alfred Gilbert

The Fawcett Memorial in Westminster Abbey ” by Sir Alfred Gilbert (1854-1934). Source: the 1888-89 Magazine of Art. [Click on this image to enlarge them.]

Commentary from The Magazine of Art

As an example of Mr. Gilbert's work, when it treats a subject of purely national interest, the next in importance [after his “monumental statue of the ‘The Queen’”] is his memorial of Henry Fawcett in Westminster Abbey. In its comparatively diminutive size and its decorative adjustment to the traceried arch of the screen in which it is set, it offers a striking contrast to the huge and clumsy compositions which block the passages and mutilate the beauty of the Abbey. It is composed of a portrait-medallion, and a row of little figures, representing the virtues of the late blind statesman and economist. Fortitude stands in the middle, supported on either hand” by Justice and Modesty;” by the side of Justice is Zeal;” by the side of Modesty Industry — all upright, full-length figures, and in the lower spaces, where the curve of the arch springs, are two seated figures suggestive of Brotherhood. The thought is simple; but the execution is so full of invention, that the mere description of the little life-like figures with their emblems cannot be attempted here. They present so many varieties of surface and shape and outline, and are so embroidered with the growth of the artist's fancy, that they are like a little garden of sculpture. The decorative and picturesque richness of their interest emphasises rather than diminishes the solemn simplicity of the head above. An admirable likeness as nearly all can judge — it is full of the finest feeling. The intellectual and strangely sympathetic features are modelled with the greatest tenderness. He has caught the pathetic, listening look which long years of blindness engraves on the human face, and the expression of attention is so strong that it is difficult to realise that the eyes are closed. [39-40]

Image capture and formatting and by George P. Landow. [You may use this image without prior permission for any scholarly or educational purpose as long as you (1) credit the University of Toronto and the Internet Archive and (2) link your document to this URL in a web document or cite it in a print one.]


Monkhouse, W. Cosmo. “Alfred Gilbert, A.R.A.—I and II.” Magazine of Art 12 (November 1888-October 1889): 1-4, 37-40. Internet Archive version of a copy in the University of Toronto Library. Web. 3 November 2014.

Last modified 3 November 2014