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Public Statues and Sculpture Association

Siegfried Charoux (1896–1967)

Sculptor, painter and caricaturist. Born Siegfried Charous in Vienna, son of a dressmaker. Twice wounded in the First World War, Charoux studied 1922–24 at the Vienna Academy under Hans Bitterlich. More influential on his work at this point were the sculptors Josef Heu and Anton Hanak. Between 1923 and 1928, Charoux contributed hard-hitting political cartoons to the Vienna papers, chiefly Der Abend and the Arbeiter Zeitung. These and a number of sculptural projects, of which photographs survive from the inter-war years, testify to Charoux’ strongly held socialist convictions. The principal works which he actually realised in Vienna in these years were the Frieze of Work (1928–29) over the entrance to the Zürcher-Hof housing estate, and the Monument to Gotthold Ephraïm Lessing (1933–35) for the Judenplatz. The latter was destroyed by the Nazis, who disapproved of the sympathetic portrayal of the Jewish leading figure, in Lessing’s play Nathan the Wise. Charoux replaced it with a more stylised figure in 1968. He moved to England in 1935, and was naturalised in 1946. His first major English commissions were for stone figures on new Cambridge University buildings, the School of Anatomy and the Engineering Laboratory. In such post-war works as The Islanders, a colossal plaster relief for the Festival of Britain (1951), and Neighbours, commissioned by the LCC for Highbury Quadrant, he celebrated British stoicism and social cohesion. Other important commissions from these years are the Portland stone figures representing The Arts and Manual Labour on the principal front of St Swithin’s House, Walbrook, City of London (1951); the two family groups on the News Room War Memorial, Royal Exchange Buildings, Liverpool (1955); The Cellist, formerly outside the Royal Festival Hall, London (1958; in store); and The Motorcyclist, Shell Building, London (1962). In 1958 Charoux was made an honorary professor of the Republic of Austria. He was elected Associate Royal Academician in 1949 and full Royal Academician in 1956. He was also a Fellow of the Royal Society of British Sculptors. After his death, his widow donated the contents of his studio to the town of Langenzersdorf, outside Vienna, where the Charoux Museum was opened in 1982.

Bibliography (updated 2024): T. Cavanagh, Public Sculpture of Liverpool, Liverpool, 1997, pp. 48, 49, 50; T. Cavanagh, Public Sculpture of South London, Liverpool, 2007, pp. xviii, xx, 32–33, 81, 360–63, 365; H.K. Gross, Die Wiener Jahre des Karikaturisten und Bildhauers Siegfried Charoux, Vienna, 1997; H.K. Gross, ‘Charoux [formerly Buchta, Charous], Siegfried Joseph’, ODNB, 2004; M. Veasey, ‘“An Insistence on freedom”: Siegfried Charoux’s Civilisation Cyclus’, Sculpture Journal, vol. 28, no. 1, pp. 123–38; P. Ward-Jackson, Public Sculpture of the City of London, Liverpool, 2003, pp. 426, 427–28.

Philip Ward-Jackson, 2003

Charoux, Siegfried

Unknown photographer, Siegfried Charoux in his studio working on ‘Mother with Children’, c.1959, photograph, Siegfried Charoux Museum, Langenzersdorf, Austria (photo: CC BY-SA 2.0 DE, via Wikimedia Commons)