Joseph Priestley

Works of Gilbert Bayes

Portrait Sculpture

In 1899, Gilbert Bayes executed his first portrait sculpture, which was a marble bust of Sir Richard Moon, Chairman of the London and North Western Railway. After 1900, as his reputation grew, commissions became more numerous, not least to commemorate men and women who had achieved distinction in their lives. In 1902/3 he executed two commissions, the first for Dr David Yellowlees of Gartnaval Hospital, to mark his retirement that year, and the second for philosopher and Hellenist, Robert Adamson, who had died in 1902, which was commissioned by Glasgow University in a bronze relief. Also in 1903 he undertook a commission, in bronze relief for the Italian scientist who had invented the electric battery, Count Alesandro Volta (1745-1827). An elaborate relief of Professor Henry Sidgwick followed in 1905.

Memorial Sculptures

On 26 June 1909, Alfred Bayes, his father died. In 1907 Gilbert had done an unsentimental bust of his father. A commission followed in 1909 after the death of the leading French actor, Benoit Constant Coquelin for Bayes to make a memorial for presentation the Comedie-Francaise. Two commissions for memorials followed in 1910, for the churchyard of St James Warter, in Yorkshire, of respectively, Lord Nonburnholme of Warter Priory and Gerald Valerion Wilson of Shillinglee Park. Further commissions followed on from these in 1934 when Bayes created a memorial for Lady Isabel Wilson following her death and a bronze of 10th Earl of Chesterfield, after his death in 1933. In the same year Bayes produced a bronze equestrian statue of John Churchill 1st Duke of Marlborough. In 1911, an Indian commission of a memorial for Lady Tata was undertaken. In 1913 a further Indian commission for the Maharajah Ratan Singh, who had died that year was undertaken in an over-life-size marble. A commission from John Burnet for a sculpture for the main entrance to the Institute of Chemistry resulted in a sculpted stone seated and reading figure of Joseph Priestley, the scientist who had identified oxygen.

Portrait of Lady Tata C
Statue of John Churchill

Royal Society of British Sculptors

Bayes designed some ambitious fountain groups for other media, which he exhibited at the Royal Academy in the 1930's. His Sea Urchin was shown in 1934 and although originally intended for bronze did not get past the plaster stage. Three years later he showed two plaster panels for his impressive Fountain of the Months, which was later produced, in artificial stone for a London garden. Here guests at the annual garden party that Bayes instigated when he was elected President of the Royal Society of British Sculptors in 1939 could admire them. Although he received no further garden commissions after the Second World War, his interest in the subject never waned and his work has continued to bring pleasure in private and public settings, just as he intended.

Bronze Work

At the end of the Great War Bays was commissioned by the Machine Gun training centre to provide a presentation bronze of Earl Brownlow, squire of Belton House, Lincolnshire. In the following year Bayes executed two memorials to men eminent in the City and who both lived in Surrey, Sir Edward Hopkinson Holden, a barrister and Liberal MP and Sir Walpole Lloyd Greenwell, a Lieutenant of the City of London. In 1923, Bayes executed a bronze relief plaque for William Richard Lethaby, architect, designer and reformer. Also in 1923, Bayes executed a bronze bust of F W Troup, who was Master of the Art Workers Guild during that period. Bayes also modelled a small equestrian statue of Lt. Col. Percy Robert Laurie, a decorated soldier of the First World War and later Chief of the Mounted Police. Another war hero and national figure who Bayes sculpted was Field Marshall Douglas Haig. He modelled two versions, both mounted, but in different dress and stances. He also undertook a splendid bronze plaque to Gordon Selfridge, on his retirement in 1939.Also in 1939, Leonard Bentall, commissioned a memorial to Maurice Webb, architect of the great Surrey store after he died. Bayes also did the model for the bronze lion's head for Ralph Knott's County Hall in London and after Knott's death in 1929, produced a commemorative portrait plaque of him shown in profile, which was set up at the former Members' entrance at County Hall.

Sir Edward Holden
Master AWG

Commissioned Memorials

One of Bayes' most diverting sitters was the formidable Dame Ethel Smyth, the leading female composer of her time for whom he created a bust before she died in 1944. He also produced a statuette of a young Welsh Guards army officer, Captain Glyn David Rhys-Williams for his 21st birthday in November 1942. In the dark days of 1943, Bayes produced a light-hearted portrait of his daughter Jean, jokingly entitled the Sultana of Champough. Further commissions followed after the Second World War and up to Bayes' death in 1953, including one started by Leonard Merrifield of Herbert Asquith, which Bayes finished after Merrifield's death. Bayes' last large memorial was of Robert Owen, commissioned by Co-operative societies and completed after his death by W.C. King.

Aristocrats, and philosophers, dons and war heroes, city men and merchant adventurers, Indian kings and mercantile princes, worthy professional men and energetic radicals or other mortals who deserved poignant memorials, Gilbert Bayes took them all in his stride in his long career and gave of his best.