Edward Onslow Ford

Folly

exhibited 1886

Artist
Edward Onslow Ford 1852–1901
Medium
Bronze
Dimensions
Object: 887 x 415 x 330 mm
Collection
Tate
Acquisition
Presented by the Trustees of the Chantrey Bequest 1886
Reference
N01758

Not on display

Display caption

Onslow Ford was an innovator. Here he rejected classical subject matter and conventions of ideal beauty and presented the embodiment of Folly as a pubescent girl poised precariously on the edge of a dangerous rock. Ford’s casting allows enormous detail and a sensuous surface. It was made using the lost-wax process – casting bronze in a mould taken from a detailed wax model. The artist even pressed strands of animal hair into the wax to create the effect of a tangled mop. Such attention to surface detail led critics to complain that the work was too life-like to be acceptable as sculpture.

Gallery label, February 2010

Catalogue entry

N01758 FOLLY c. 1886
 
Not inscribed.
Bronze, 27 1/2×18×13 1/4 (70×46×34), on English Serpentine base, 7 1/2×7 1/2×7 (19×19×18).
Chantrey Purchase from the artist 1886.
Exh: R.A., 1886 (1925).
Lit: Marion Hepworth Dixon, ‘Onslow Ford, A.R.A.’ in Magazine of Art, 1892, p.238, repr. p.329; Edmund Gosse, ‘The New Sculpture, 1879–1894’ in Art Journal, 1894, p.282, repr. p.306; E. T. Cook, A Popular Handbook to the Tate Gallery, 1898, p.279; M. H. Spielmann, British Sculpture and Sculptors of To-day, 1901, p.55.

E. T. Cook (loc. cit.) described the figure as ‘insecurely poised on a dangerous rock, pointing to some chimera in the distance and [who] would persuade others to follow her and dangerously do likewise’.

Published in:
Mary Chamot, Dennis Farr and Martin Butlin, The Modern British Paintings, Drawings and Sculpture, London 1964, I