War Memorials

Works of Gilbert Bayes

Sculpture & Architecture

Gilbert Bayes was passionately in favour of sculpture that was accessible to the man in the street without sacrificing art or integrity whilst also being intelligent and interesting to his intended audience. He believed that architectural sculpture should blend, to some extent, with the building on which it was placed.

King of Assyria

Bronze Relief for New South Wales Art Gallery

He received his first architectural commission after entering a competition in 1903 to design a bronze relief panel for the façade of the New South Wales Art Gallery. Subjects typical of Assyrian or Egyptian art were required and his design depicting Assur-Natsir-Pal, King of Syria was selected by his assessors and the panel took its place in 1907.

Façade for Victoria and Albert Museum

Façade for Victoria and Albert Museum

He was also one of the young sculptors chosen to contribute figures of famous artists and architects for the façade of the Victoria and Albert Museum in 1905. This was part of a scheme of 34 statues, to be submitted in quarter-size models and if successful, full size models within two months. After these had been hoisted into position and approved, the stone carving had to be completed within two months. He produced portraits of Sir Charles Barry and Sir William Chambers in Portland stone for the Cromwell Road façade.

Façade for National Museum of Wales

Façade for National Museum of Wales

Bayes was successful with his submission of The Bronze Age in winning a commission for part of the sculptural decoration of the National Museum of Wales in 1914. Later the title of the period was changed to, respectively, The Prehistoric Period and The Classic Period for the main façade. Work on the sculptures continued throughout the First World War, form which Bayes was exempt because of his commission for War and Peace for the New South Wales Art Gallery, and the carving was completed in 1917. These latter statues established Bayes's reputation as a major sculptor of monumental and architectural works.

St George Memorial Chapel in Jerusalem

St George Memorial Chapel in Jerusalem

Many commissions followed in the UK and overseas, including the request from St John Burnet for Bayes to design a bronze niche figure of St George for the memorial chapel in Jerusalem and which was erected in 1927.

Queen of Time Statue
Queen of Time Statue

Queen of Time Statue for Selfridges Department Store

Burnet and Bayes had collaborated on other sculptures and settings previously but perhaps the most famous was on the extensions for Selfridge's Department store in Oxford Street. Bayes was commissioned to produce heroic statues of the four winds for the top of a massive tower. Full size plaster models had been made before the scheme was halted due to planning permission being denied for the size of the towers. Bayes was paid for his work and went on to his next project for Selfridges, the provision of a monumental clock for the main doorway. The main figure, soon dubbed the Queen of Time, which was a bronze cast by Burton's and embellished with gold and inlaid with blue stoneware supplied by Doulton's of Lambeth and was finally installed in 1931 where it was proclaimed on contemporary postcards as 'London's newest meeting place - under the clock at Selfridge's'.

Guardian of the Seas and Madonna and Child

Bayes also contributed several other sculptural adornments for the new part of the store, which included a bronze panel of Pegasus laid in the floor of the main entrance in honour of Gordon Selfridge, the store's founder and who was a great admirer of Bayes's work and who displayed a cast of the Guardian of the Seas, from 1927, in his private office. Mention has also been made of the Madonna and Child that Bayes contributed to the roof garden. To commemorate the Coronation in 1937, he created a colossal figure of Peace to crown the main façade. Finally when Gordon Selfridge retired in 1939, Bayes designed a memorial relief and portrait, which was accompanied by an illuminated address by his sister, Jessie.

Segrave Trophy Stone
Segrave Trophy

Other Bayes Commisions in the 1920’s and 1930’s

Further commissions followed during the 1920's and 1930's including an impressive bronze and mosaic floor roundel for the main banking hall for Lloyds Bank, which was featured in the building press of the period. He also produced two massive terminal figures of Aesculapius, the god of medicine and Hebe, the goddess of youth for the Royal Masonic Hospital in Ravenscourt Park.

In 1934 he produced in Portland stone a full-size frieze for Lord's Cricket Ground. Significant commissions followed including reliefs, Drama Through the Ages, for the Saville Theatre and a series of tinted bas-reliefs for the new BBC Concert Hall, depicting mythic figures for the western wall and modern themes for the eastern wall.


Doulton and Company

By the early 1920's Bayes already had considerable experience with concrete. In collaboration with artist Thomas Penberthy Bennett, in 1924, Bayes produced low relief panels in cement that were then painted to resemble neo-classical stucco work, for which he used the theme, Music Art and Science.

It was Bayes's interest in the use of colour for sculpture, which initiated a singularly long, and successful association with the ceramic manufacturers, Doulton and Company, mentioned earlier, and its development of polychrome stoneware. Bayes was the first artist to take interest in this medium and it was owing to him that it was so successfully exploited in the inter-war years. Bayes used his experience from the St Pancras Housing commission in producing a fifty feet long frieze of Pottery through the Ages for the Company's new headquarters on the Lambeth Embankment. The Doulton House frieze was dismantled in 1979 when the building was demolished but it was restored and re-erected in the Victoria and Albert Museum in 1988.

Bayes's last architectural commission, in 1951, was for a university building, Withersdane Hall at Wye College. Although there was some disagreement with the clients about the sketch model, the classical style was to their taste and the Empire Stone Company cast the panel in 1952.