Edward Onslow Ford


exhibited 1886

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Not on display

Edward Onslow Ford 1852–1901
Object: 887 × 415 × 330 mm
Presented by the Trustees of the Chantrey Bequest 1886

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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

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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

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