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Public Statues and Sculpture Association

Richard Louis Garbe (1876–1957)

Sculptor. Born in Dalston, London, son of a manufacturer of ivory and tortoiseshell fancy goods, to whom he was apprenticed. Garbe studied at the Central School of Arts and Crafts and at the Royal Academy Schools (1901–04). His early work is divided into the miniature sculpture in diverse materials, often applied to domestic objects, which he showed at arts and crafts exhibitions, and the more monumental treatments of subjects of philosophical import, which he showed at the Royal Academy. One of the latter type, Man and the Ideal, shown in 1907, is illustrated in the Studio of that year. It is a tremendously ponderous Germanic allegory. Before the First World War, Garbe produced much architectural sculpture, including, on Thames House, Queen Street Place, City of London (1911–12), the pediment of the north pavilion and the pediment and ground-floor window spandrels of the south pavilion and, on the National Museum of Wales, Cardiff (1914–15), two large groups representing the Mediaeval and the Modern Age. Always craft-oriented, Garbe’s Royal Academy exhibits from between the wars encompass the full gamut of traditional materials, but with a decided preponderance of ivory. It was an ivory carving of Autumn which won him the Royal Society of British Sculptors Silver Medal in 1930. This work is now in Tate Britain. In the 1930s, Garbe modelled a number of pieces for production in ceramic by the firm of Doulton’s. He taught at the Central School 1901–29, and at the Royal College of Art 1929–46; he was elected ARA in 1929, RA in 1936 and Senior RA in 1952.

Bibliography: The Doulton Story (exh. cat.), Victoria and Albert Museum, London, 1979; Mapping Sculpture; Royal Academy of Arts: ‘Richard Garbe RA (1876–1957)’; Tate Gallery Catalogue, Modern British Paintings, Drawings and Sculpture, London, 1964; P. Ward-Jackson, Public Sculpture of the City of London, Liverpool, 2003, pp. xxvi, 306–07, 307–08.

Philip Ward-Jackson, 2003; updated Terry Cavanagh April 2024