Sculptor and painter. Born in London, Drury studied sculpture at the National Art Training School, South Kensington, under the French instructors, Jules Dalou and Edouard Lantéri. Between 1881 and 1885, he worked in Dalou’s Paris studio as an assistant, and, on returning to London, showed at the Royal Academy a Triumph of Silenus, which was strongly marked by the French sculptor’s influence. Work with J.E. Boehm and emulation of his contemporaries, such as Alfred Gilbert and George Frampton, helped him to form his own style. For his poetic pieces and allegories, Drury invented a characteristic female type. This proved most popular in the fanciful and dreamy busts of young girls, entitled Griselda and The Age of Innocence, both of which were frequently reproduced in bronze. A similar theme is given full-length realisation in the scantily clad lamp-holding female figures representing Morn and Even, which Drury sculpted for City Square, Leeds (1896). At the Paris International Exhibition of 1900, he won a gold medal for his statue of Circe, a bronze cast of which belongs to Leeds City Art Gallery. Drury’s many architectural commissions include colossal allegorical groups in stone on the War Office in Whitehall (1904) and four colossal female allegories in bronze on the downstream side of Vauxhall Bridge (1904–07). In commemorating the fallen of the South African War, Drury chose for Clifton College, Bristol, a ‘symbolic’ figure of St George (1904–05), and for Warrington, Lancs., a contemporary soldier of the South Lancashire Regiment (1907). A similar range of subject is found in his eight First World War memorials, that at Kidderminster, Worcs. (1922) being perhaps the most inventive in its combination of allegory and reality, and its inclusion of members of a grateful future generation. His most successful public statues were of historical figures, Richard Hooker for Exeter (1907), Elizabeth Fry for the Old Bailey (1913), and Joshua Reynolds for the forecourt of Burlington House. Drury was often assisted in his old age by his son, the etcher, Paul Drury.
Bibliography: S. Beattie, New Sculpture, New Haven and London, 1983; T. Cavanagh, Public Sculpture of Kensington and Chelsea with Westminster South-West, Watford, 2023, pp. 166–68, 171, 172; T. Cavanagh, Public Sculpture of South London, Liverpool, 2007, pp. 57, 121, 125–26; D. Merritt and F. Greenacre, with K. Eustace, Public Sculpture of Bristol, Liverpool, 2011, pp. lix–lx, 83–85; E. Morris and E. Roberts, Public Sculpture of Cheshire and Merseyside, Liverpool, 2012, pp. xxv–xxvi, 233–34; G.T. Noszlopy, Public Sculpture of Birmingham, Liverpool, 1998, p. 134; G.T. Noszlopy and F. Waterhouse, Public Sculpture of Herefordshire, Shropshire and Worcestershire, Liverpool, 2010, pp. xxv, 217–18; J. Seddon et al, Public Sculpture of Sussex, Liverpool, 2014, pp. 53–54; B. Thomas (ed.), Alfred Drury and the New Sculpture (exh. cat.), Canterbury, 2013; P. Ward-Jackson, Public Sculpture of the City of London, Liverpool, 2003, pp. 77–79, 271–75, 334–36; P. Ward-Jackson, Public Sculpture of Historic Westminster. Volume 1, Liverpool, 2011, pp. 14–15, 132; D. White and E. Norman, Public Sculpture of Sheffield and South Yorkshire, Liverpool, 2015, pp. v, xiii, xvii, xix, 142–47; J. Winfrey, ‘Leeds City Square: T. Walter Harding and the realisation of a sculptural vision’, in Sculpting Art History, Essays in Memory of Benedict Read (eds. K. Eustace et al), London, 2013, pp. 218–33.
Philip Ward-Jackson, 2023
Mildred Norris Laker, Alfred Drury, c. 1906–11, bromide print (photo: © National Portrait Gallery, London)