Eric Kennington

Head of T.E. Lawrence

1926

Medium
Bronze
Dimensions
Object: 413 x 425 x 254 mm
Collection
Tate
Acquisition
Presented by The Studio and the Contemporary Art Society 1943
Reference
N05438

Display caption

A colonel in the British army, TE Lawrence (1888-1935) spent the First World War fighting with the Arabs against the Turks. He gained fame as Lawrence of Arabia, especially after the publication of his
epic account of the Arab rebellion,
Seven Pillars of Wisdom.

In 1920, after three years as an Official War Artist, Kennington went to Arabia
to illustrate the book. Lawrence described this bust as 'Magnificent; there is no other word for it. It represents not me but my top moments, those few seconds when
I succeed in thinking myself right out
of things.'

Gallery label, September 2004

Catalogue entry

N05438 HEAD OF T. E. LAWRENCE 1926
 
Not inscribed.
Bronze, 16 1/4×16 3/4×10 (41×42·5×25·5).
Presented by the Studio in conjunction with the Contemporary Art Society 1943.
Exh: New York World Fair 1939 (4).
Lit: David Garnett (ed.), Letters of T. E. Lawrence, 1938, pp.507–9; William Rothenstein, Since Fifty, 1939, p.266.
Repr: C.A.S. Report 1942–3, 1944, facing p.38; T. E. Lawrence, Seven Pillars of Wisdom, 1935, frontispiece (probably from the plaster).

Modelled partly from life and partly from drawings in December 1926, it was chosen by Lawrence's mother and brother for the Crypt of St Paul's. There are three further casts of this head in bronze or brass, one in the music room at Lawrence's cottage, Clouds Hill, Moreton, Dorset, presented to the National Trust by R. V. Buxton, one sold in America, and one cast in gilded brass exhibited at the Leicester Galleries, February 1927 (81).

See also Kennington, N06230. Sir William Rothenstein (loc. cit.) wrote: ‘Kennington was devoting himself to Lawrence's glorification - for him Lawrence was the perfect man who could do no wrong.’ Lawrence himself described the bust (loc. cit.) as ‘magnificent; there is no other word for it. It represents not me but my top moments, those few seconds when I succeed in thinking myself right out of things.’

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

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