Catalogue entry

T03331 MAQUETTE FOR THE LEVERHULME MEMORIAL c.1928

Not inscribed
Bronze, 6 3/4 × 7 3/4 × 5 3/4 (17.2 × 19.2 × 13) on wooden base
Presented by the artist's widow 1981

William Hesketh Lever, 1st Viscount Leverhulme (1851–1925) founded the firm of Lever Brothers in 1884 which purchased a soap factory in Warrington in 1885, transferring production to Port Sunlight in 1889. Lever was made a baronet in 1911 and given a peerage in 1917. Following the death of his wife Elizabeth Ellen (née Hulme) in 1913, he built the Lady Lever Art Gallery at Port Sunlight in her memory.

After Lord Leverhulme's death 22,000 employees of the firm, both in Britain and abroad, made donations to a fund to erect a monument in his memory. This was designed by James Lomax Simpson who was also the architect of Unilever House, near the north end of Blackfriars Bridge in London. William Reid Dick sculpted in stone two groups each of men holding a horse representing controlled energy for Unilever House. The same artist was also commissioned to make the sculptural components for the Leverhulme monument. On top of an obelisk of polished marble 45ft. high stands a female figure symbolizing Inspiration. In front of the obelisk on a low plinth are four figures: on the left a man holding a pair of large pincers symbolizing Industry; in the centre, at the front, is Charity, a woman holding a baby and to the right a woman holding an open book symbolizing Education; these three figures face in the same direction, away from the obelisk. The fourth figure Art, a female holding a palette, stands behind, with her back to Charity, facing the obelisk. This group of four figures was shown at the Summer Exhibition of the Royal Academy in 1930 (no.1629 in the catalogue).

The Leverhulme Monument, which stands on the west side of the Lady Lever Art Gallery, Port Sunlight, was unveiled on 13 September 1930 (see Progress, October 1930, p.109), the ceremony being performed by Thomas Peacock, the oldest employee of Lever Brothers, who had retired in 1929 after completing 43 5/8 years of service.

In an article in Lever Brothers' house magazine Progress, summer 1936, page 88, Reid Dick was quoted as saying in an interview of about April or May the same year that ‘it is nearly three years since I began work on the memorial ...’ which might suggest that he started sometime in the latter part of 1927. He continued: ‘I was given a free hand to develop my conception of what a memorial to Lord Leverhulme should be. I had some personal recollection of him to strengthen the admiration of his genius and his achievement which I shared with the rest of the world. In considering that genius, I evolved the figure of Inspiration; in reflecting upon his achievements, so numerous and diverse, there emerged as the major inspirations of his life - Industry, Education, Charity and Art. These I have symbolized in the four of the bronze group, with what success it will be for others to appraise’.

The maquette belonging to the Tate Gallery is close in composition to the large scale group which forms part of the Leverhulme Memorial.

The compiler is grateful for help from Ms Maureen Stanforth of the Information Department of Unilever and Edward Morris, Merseyside County Art Galleries.

Published in:
The Tate Gallery 1980-82: Illustrated Catalogue of Acquisitions, London 1984