Sculptor, born at Keswick, Cumbria. His family moved to Switzerland in 1880 and by 1885 were in Germany where Wood began his art education at the Kunstgewerbeschule in Karlsruhe. After his family’s relocation to Shropshire in 1887, Wood worked as a modeller, firstly for Maw & Co and then the Coalbrookdale Iron Co. In 1890, he enrolled at the National Art Training School, South Kensington, where he studied modelling under Edouard Lantéri. In 1891, he worked as an assistant to Alphonse Légros at the Slade School of Fine Art. He entered the RA Schools in 1894 while working as an assistant to Thomas Brock, and in 1895 won the Gold Medal and Travelling Studentship with his group, Daedalus and Icarus (plaster at Russell-Cotes Art Gallery, Bournemouth; bronze at Bristol Museum & Art Gallery), which financed a year-long stay in Paris. From c.1897 to 1901 he was visiting director of modelling at Glasgow School of Art. He was elected a member of the AWG in 1901, was a founder member of the RBS in 1904, and was elected ARA in 1910 and RA in 1920. During the First World War he worked for the London General Hospital making masks to cover facial disfigurements. From 1918 to 1923 he was Professor of Sculpture at the RCA. His public statues include Sir Titus Salt (1903), Saltaire, Yorkshire; General Wolfe (1911), Westerham, Kent; Edward VII (1914), Rangoon; William Pitt (1918), Washington, DC; and Henry Royce (1923), Derby. His war memorials include St Mary’s Church, Ditchingham, Norfolk (1920); the Cotton Exchange, Liverpool (1922); Keswick (1922); and the Machine Gun Corps, Hyde Park Corner (1925). Wood also produced portrait busts and ideal works. In 1929, a bronze cast of his marble Atalanta (1909, Manchester Art Gallery) was erected on Chelsea Embankment as a memorial by his friends at the Chelsea Arts Club (of which he was for many years a member); sadly, this was stolen in 1991 and in 1994 was replaced with a replica. Wood and his wife (and, from 1904, their son) lived until c.1908 at 23 Clareville Grove, South Kensington, although by 1911 their improved financial situation had allowed them to purchase the lease on 18 Carlyle Square, Chelsea; Wood worked from a studio at 27 Glebe Place, Chelsea, from 1900 to 1925. He is buried in the churchyard at Amberley, Sussex, a bronze cast of his relief, The Lamentation, set into his headstone.
Sources: Beattie, S., The New Sculpture, New Haven and London, 1983; Crellin, S., ‘Hollow Men: Francis Derwent Wood’s Masks and memorials, 1915–1925, Sculpture Journal, vol. VI, 2001, pp. 75–88; Crellin, S., ‘Wood, Francis Derwent (1871–1926)’, ODNB, Oxford, 2004; Mapping Sculpture; Parkes, K., ‘Francis Derwent Wood, R.A.’, American Magazine of Art, Vol. 18, No. 2 (February 1927), pp. 79–87; Royal Academy of Arts website; The Times, 20 February 1926, p. 14 (obit.); Withey, M., The Sculpture of Francis Derwent Wood, London, 2015.
Terry Cavanagh November 2022
Francis Derwent Wood, photographer unknown, c. 1914, bromide print (photo: © National Portrait Gallery, London)