Wednesday, 17 June 2015
Tate Britain, Millbank SW1
This charming classical tale is caught in this active sculpture of 1906 by Sir Charles Lawes-Wittewronge Bt. It was his master-work, exhibited at the Royal Academy and followed up by an enormous marble version for the Franco-British Exhibition of 1908. The bronze was donated by his widow in 1911 and is placed outside the Tate because it is too big to go in any of the rooms, apparently. The marble version is in the grounds of the former family estate in Hertfordshire.
It is not in a very satisfactory position, really. The composition is clearly made to be seen from all angles, with the young murderers and the unfortunate aunt at each corner of a triangle with the bull in the middle, so its location abutting the side wall of the gallery's portico does not do it justice.
Lawes-Wittewronge was an aristocrat and athlete who changed his name from simply Lawes when he inherited the baronetcy, to honour an ancestor. He was made bankrupt after unwisely suggesting in print that rival sculptor Richard Belt was devoid of talent and that all the artistic merit of his works was provided by foreign assistants smuggled in and out of his studio by night.