Machin studied sculpture at the Royal College of Art, London during the Second World War and was later elected to the Royal Academy. He developed a classical style and is best known for his relief portrait of the Queen which featured on stamps and coins from 1968-84. This sculpture shows John the Baptist as a half naked boy at prayer. His delicate physique is counterbalanced by the boy’s strong and direct gaze. Machin spent much of 1944 in prison as a conscientious objector. The themes of vulnerability and spiritual salvation may have had as much personal significance for him as they did for wider society engaged in a global war.
Arnold Machin was born in Stoke-on-Trent in 1911 and died near Eccleshall in 1999.