Tuesday, 3 February 2009

Former City of London School for Boys, Victoria Embankment EC4

J Daymond & Sons contributed a tremendous number and variety of sculptures and carvings to many prominent Victorian buildings, but little seems to be known about them. Even the incredibly well-informed Bob Speel calls the firm 'obscure'.
All I can find out about them is that in 1902 they had a workshop in Vauxhall Bridge Road and a showroom in Victoria Street. They may have come from Bovey Tracey in Devon which was home to a large clan of Daymonds who were stone masons.
Perhaps that is the clue to their obscurity - they were craftsmen rather than artists. Their work is excellent but completely predictable, as if architects would visit their showroom and order sculpture out of the catalogue, like Argos.

The Daymonds' mag. op. was a set of statues of English worthies on the main facade of the City of London School for Boys, built in 1880 by Davis & Emmanuel, for whom they did a lot of work.
The figures are of Bacon, Shakspeare (sic), Milton and Newton (and another of Sir Thomas More round the side). They are lively and poised, each holding a book except for Newton who is holding a telescope. Surely it is the wrong type - a Newtonian telescope is a short fat reflecting telescope with the eyepiece coming out of the side, whereas the one shown looks more like a standard 19th century marine pattern.
The representative sculptures under the arches are by G. W. Seale, of which more anon.

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