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Public Statues and Sculpture Association

Paul Raphael Montford (1868–1938)

Sculptor and teacher born in Kentish Town, the son of the sculptor Horace Montford. He was taught modelling by his father and learnt to draw at the South London Technical School of Art, 1884–85. In 1887, he entered the Royal Academy (RA) Schools on a British Institution Scholarship and in 1891 won the RA’s Gold Medal and Travelling Studentship for Composition in Sculpture (for his group, Jacob Wrestling with an Angel). Throughout the 1890s, he shared a studio with his father, firstly at Battersea and then from c.1903 at Clapham. From 1898 to 1903, he taught modelling at South West London (Chelsea) Polytechnic. Impressed by the monuments he had seen on his European travels, he decided to specialise in architectural figure sculpture. He initially enjoyed considerable success, working with some of the leading architects of the day. For E.W. Mountford he executed 10 allegorical figures for the façade of the Battersea Polytechnic Institute, 1890–93, plus reliefs on Battersea Town Hall, 1892, and the Northampton Institute (now City University), Clerkenwell, 1896; in each of these he was assisted by his father. For Aston Webb he executed relief figures representing William Caxton and George Heriot, 1905, for the Exhibition Road façade of the Victoria and Albert Museum, and all the architectural sculpture for the Royal School of Mines, South Kensington, including two figure groups supporting colossal busts of Sir Julius Wernher and Alfred Beit either side of the main entrance, c.1916. For Lanchester, Stewart and Rickards, he executed relief groups, 1901–05, for Cardiff City Hall, and in 1908 the attic relief for J.M. Brydon’s arched screen, 1908, across King Charles Street, Whitehall. By 1923, however, Montford was finding it difficult to secure new commissions in England, and so emigrated to Australia, his most important commissions there being war memorials at Camperdown (1927–29) and Melbourne (1927–32). M.H. Spielmann’s assessment of Montford from the earlier part of his career (1901) remains valid; his work was, he wrote, was ‘excellent in drawing, and though a little academic and not strikingly original, it is decorative in character and vigorous in conception and handling.’

Bibliography: ‘Battersea and Art. A Chat with Mr. Paul Montford’, South London Press, 19 August 1893, p. 5; Builder, 28 January 1938, p. 196 (obit.); T. Cavanagh, Public Sculpture of Kensington and Chelsea with Westminster South-West, Watford, 2023, pp. 170, 345–46; T. Cavanagh, Public Sculpture of South London, Liverpool, 2007, pp. 185–86, 299, 300–03, 304; R. Cocke, Public Sculpture of Norfolk and Suffolk, Liverpool, 2013, pp. 240–41; G. Giddings, ‘Paul Raphael Montford, Sculptor’, Architects’ Journal, vol. lvi, no. 1457, 6 December 1922, pp. 789–92; F. Lloyd et al, Public Sculpture of Outer South and West London, Liverpool, 2011, pp. 23–25; R. McKenzie, Public Sculpture of Glasgow, Liverpool, 2002, pp. 236–42; Mapping Sculpture; C. Moriarty, The Commemorative Sculpture of Paul Montford, University of Brighton and Shrine of Remembrance, Melbourne, 2017; K. Parkes, Sculpture of To-Day, London, 1921, vol. 1; M.H. Spielmann, British Sculpture and Sculptors of To-Day, London, 1901; Who Was Who; J. Zimmer, ‘Montford, Paul Raphael (1868–1938)’, 1986, online 2006, Australian Dictionary of Biography; information from Royal Academy of Arts archives.

Terry Cavanagh November 2022