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N06230 RECLINING FIGURE OF T. E. LAWRENCE 1939/1954
Ciment fondu, 23 1/2 (including base)×82 1/2×34 1/2 (60×216×88).
Purchased from the artist (R.A. Gift and Benson Funds) 1954.
Lit: E. H. Kennington, Drawing the R.A.F., 1942, p.26.
Repr: Sir John Rothenstein, British Art since 1900, 1962, pl.42 (detail).
A cement cast, made in 1954 and entirely reworked by the sculptor, from a plaster cast of the stone monument in the Church of St Martin, Wareham, Dorset, close to the cottage near Bovington where Lawrence had lived; the original effigy was completed in 1939.
Thomas Edward Lawrence (1888–1935), known as Lawrence of Arabia, archaeologist, soldier and writer, died on 19 May 1935 as a result of a motor-cycle accident. The artist wrote (February 1955): ‘A year before his death he and I talked about the English recumbent effigies of 1200–1600, and, as always, he brought more light and wider understanding to my enthusiasm.
‘A plan to make a great book on these sculptural effigies, combining my photographs and his words, was stopped by his death in 1935, so I carved his memorial from a 3-ton block of Portland stone for the Saxon church near his cottage at Wareham, Dorset.
‘This was an attempt to continue the broken tradition of our early “image makers”: to make a permanent record of his appearance and a wish to place him publicly in the Christian Faith, which he sometimes denied, and so consistently practised.’
For other portraits of T. E. Lawrence see Kennington No.5438, Augustus John No. 3566 and Derwent Wood No.3602.
Mary Chamot, Dennis Farr and Martin Butlin, The Modern British Paintings, Drawings and Sculpture, London 1964, I