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Public Statues and Sculpture Association

Henry Charles Fehr (1867–1940)

Sculptor of Swiss parentage born at Forest Hill, London. He was recommended to the Royal Academy (RA) Schools in 1885 by Horace Montford in whose studio he presumably had worked. After completing his studies, Fehr worked until c.1893 as an assistant in the studio of Thomas Brock. Fehr’s own studio, from c.1894, was in The Avenue Studios, 76 Fulham Road, South Kensington. Fehr was a member of the Art Workers’ Guild from 1896 (resigned 1902) and of the Royal Society of British Sculptors from 1904 (council member 1921–23, elected Fellow 1923). He showed regularly at the RA from 1887. Fehr produced ideal works, statues and busts, but achieved his most significant works as an architectural sculptor. His Times obituarist described him as ‘above all a decorative sculptor with a taste for the florid and theatrical’, his work being ‘seen to the best advantage when applied to architecture of a baroque tendency’. Examples of this type include the coloured plaster reliefs of the Wars of the Roses in West Riding County Offices, Wakefield, 1898; the Welsh Dragon over the main dome and the Four Winds at the angles of the clocktower, Cardiff City Hall, 1904; and the friezes and figures on the former Middlesex Guildhall (now Supreme Court), Westminster, 1912–13. One of Fehr’s earliest sculptures, the colossal bronze group, Perseus Rescuing Andromeda, was purchased by the Chantrey Bequest in 1894 and is now on the right-hand balcony of Tate Britain. Fehr executed numerous war memorials, all variations on a type of a Winged Victory, generally with downturned sword in one hand and olive wreath in the other. Examples include Burton on TrentColchesterEastbourneGrangetown, South GlamorganLeedsLisburn, County Antrim; and Shepherd’s Bush, London. His bust of William Morris (1900) is in the William Morris Gallery.

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, pp. 465–68; R. Cocke, Public Sculpture of Norfolk and Suffolk, Liverpool, 2013, p. 60; Mapping Sculpture; E. Morris and E. Roberts, Public Sculpture of Cheshire and Merseyside, Liverpool, 2012, p. 138; G.T. Noszlopy and F. Waterhouse, Public Sculpture of Staffordshire and the Black Country, Liverpool, 2005, pp. 39–41, 172–74; J. Seddon et al, Public Sculpture of Sussex, Liverpool, 2014, p. 54; The Times, 15 May 1940, p. 2 (obit.); P. Ward-Jackson, Public Sculpture of Historic Westminster, Liverpool, 2011, pp. 156, 157, 255–56.

Terry Cavanagh February 2023