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Public Statues and Sculpture Association

Gilbert Ledward (1888–1960)

Sculptor born in Chelsea, the third child of Richard Ledward (see below). After studying at Goldsmiths College, he entered the Royal College of Art (RCA) in 1905, where he studied modelling in clay under Edouard Lantéri, and the Royal Academy (RA) Schools in 1910, where, in 1913, he won the travelling studentship and gold medal, and the first Rome scholarship in sculpture. He spent five months in Italy, returning through France following the outbreak of the First World War. The many sketches he made during this period are contained in the sketchbooks held in the RA archives. Ledward returned to Italy on active service with the Royal Garrison Artillery. In the post-war years he received several commissions for war memorials, including for Abergavenny and Harrogate (both 1921), Blackpool (1923) and, most prestigiously, Horse Guards Parade, London (1926), which earned him in 1927 the Royal Society of British Sculptors (RBS) medal ‘for the best work of the year by a British sculptor in any way exhibited to the public in London’. He was Professor of Sculpture at the RCA, 1927–29, during which period his interests expanded to include direct stone carving, evidenced by his Roman stone sculptures, Caryatid Figures (RA 1929, no 1404) and Reclining Figure –‘Earth Rests’ (RA 1930, no 1503). In 1934, he founded ‘Sculptured Memorials and Headstones’, an organisation aimed at improving the design of such work and encouraging the use of native stones. In 1936–38, he worked on Inspiration, a colossal nude figure for a corner of Collcutt and Hamp’s Adelphi Building, London. His is also the Venus Fountain, 1949–53, Sloane Square, Chelsea. Ledward’s last major work was a Portland stone frieze, Vision and Imagination, which was installed after his death on the Barclays Bank building, Old Broad Street, City of London; it was salvaged following the building’s demolition and, at the time of writing, remains in storage. Ledward was a member of the RBS from 1921 (president, 1954–56), was elected an Associate Royal Academician in 1932 and full RA in 1937, and was appointed OBE in 1956. He lived and worked for much of his life in Kensington: he was at 1 Pembroke Walk Studios, c.1924–c.1939, and died at home at 31 Queens Gate on 21 June 1960. Later that year, his son, Richard A. Ledward, presented an early work of his father’s, Awakening, 1914–15, to the Metropolitan Borough of Chelsea; it was erected in the newly laid-out Ropers Gardens, Chelsea Embankment, in 1965. Ledward’s unpublished autobiography (1953) is held at the Henry Moore Institute.

Bibliography: T. Cavanagh, Public Sculpture of Kensington and Chelsea with Westminster South-West, Watford, 2023, pp. 33–34, 88–92, 491–92; D.A. Cross, Public Sculpture of Lancashire and Cumbria, Liverpool, 2017, pp. 28–30; G. Ledward, unpublished typescript autobiography, [1953], Henry Moore Institute (ref 1988.16/13); Mapping Sculpture; C. Moriarty, ‘Ledward, Gilbert (1888–1960)’, ODNB, Oxford, 2004; Royal Academy of Arts website; The Times, 23 June 1960, p. 18 (obit.); P. Ward-Jackson, Public Sculpture of the City of London, Liverpool, 2003, pp. 277, 280; P. Ward-Jackson, Public Sculpture of Historic Westminster. Volume 1, Liverpool, 2011, pp. 74–77, 419, 421; T. Wyke, Public Sculpture of Greater Manchester, Liverpool, 2004, pp. 336, 346–47.

Terry Cavanagh November 2022

Ledward, Gilbert

Gilbert Ledward, Bassano Ltd, 1937, half-plate glass negative (photo: © National Portrait Gallery, London)