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Public Statues and Sculpture Association

Gilbert (William) Bayes (1872–1953)

Sculptor and teacher, born in North London. He studied at the City and Guilds School, Finsbury, 1891–96, before winning an LCC Scholarship which enabled him to attend the Royal Academy Schools, 1896–99, where he was taught by Thomas Brock, Harry Bates and, more importantly, George Frampton, who became his lifelong friend. Bayes won the Armitage Prize for composition in 1897, a Silver Medal for life modelling in 1898 and, in 1899, the Gold Medal, Landseer Scholarship and £200 travelling scholarship which funded three months in Italy and nine months in Paris (where he showed at the 1900 Exposition Universelle). He joined the Art Workers’ Guild in 1896, serving as Master in 1925. He taught at Camberwell School of Art, 1906–12. At the outbreak of the First World War, Bayes volunteered for service but was classed as medically unfit; he was later called up following the lowering of the medical requirements, but was exempted because of the importance of his 1916 commission for the Australian War Memorial – two colossal equestrian groups, Offerings of Peace and Offerings of War, finally erected in 1926 in front of the Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney. In 1922 Bayes was made an Honorary Member of the Société des Artistes Français, and won bronze and gold medals at the Paris Salon in 1929 and 1939 respectively. He was vice-president of the Royal Society of British Sculptors (RBS), 1929–37, and president, 1938–44; in 1931 he was awarded the RBS medal for his artificial stone frieze, Drama Through the Ages, for the exterior of the Saville Theatre, Shaftesbury Avenue. Bayes was particularly influenced by Frampton and Alfred Gilbert and, like them, was interested in polychromy in sculpture, the use of mixed materials and, especially in his early years, in Arthurian, Wagnerian and medieval subjects; the Assyrian relief sculptures in the British Museum were also highly influential. In 1905, Bayes executed figures of the architects Sir William Chambers and Sir Charles Barry for Aston Webb’s Victoria and Albert Museum (V&A) façade. He produced many designs in polychrome stoneware for Doulton, 1923–39, examples of which may be seen in two of his most important public commissions in the UK, The Queen of Time Clock (blue faience and stoneware decorations for the central gilt bronze figure), 1931, over the main entrance to Selfridges, Oxford Street, and a pair of friezes, 1939, for Doulton House, Lambeth (following demolition in 1979, Pottery through the Ages went to the V&A, Dutch Potters arriving at Lambeth to Ironbridge Gorge Museum, Shropshire).

Bibliography: S. Beattie, The New Sculpture, New Haven and London, 1983; T. Cavanagh, Public Sculpture of Kensington and Chelsea with Westminster South-West, Watford, 2023, p. 168; T. Cavanagh, Public Sculpture of South London, Liverpool, 2007, pp. 23–24, 25, 94, 106–07, 165, 355–57; L. Irvine and P. Atterbury, Gilbert Bayes, Sculptor, 1872–1953, Shepton Beauchamp, Somerset, 1998; F. Lloyd et al, Public Sculpture of Outer South and West London, Liverpool, 2011, pp. 55–56; R. McKenzie, Public Sculpture of Glasgow, Liverpool, 2002, pp. 22–23; Mapping Sculpture; M.H. Spielmann, British Sculpture and Sculptors of To-day, London, 1901; G.T. Noszlopy, Public Sculpture of Birmingham, Liverpool, 1998, p. 15; G.T. Noszlopy and F. Waterhouse, Public Sculpture of Herefordshire, Shropshire and Worcestershire, Liverpool, 2010, pp. 35–36; J. Seddon et al, Public Sculpture of Sussex, Liverpool, 2014, p. 70; T. Wyke, Public Sculpture of Greater Manchester, Liverpool, 2004, pp. 66–67.

Terry Cavanagh January 2023

Bayes, Gilbert (William)

Gilbert Bayes in his studio in 1930 in front of the plaster relief of Drama through the Ages for the Saville Theatre frieze (now the Odeon Covent Garden cinema), London (photo: public domain)