Object Details

Tomb of Francis Derwent Wood

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Author: Anthony McIntosh
Copyright for Photograph:

Creative Commons

Location

Street:Church Street
Town:Amberley
Parish:Amberley
Council:Horsham District Council
County:West Sussex
Postcode:BN18
Location on Google Map
Object setting:Outside building
and in:Religious
Access is:Public
Location note: Eastern wall of churchyard, St. Michael's Church
In the AZ book:West Sussex
Page:105
Grid reference:K8
The A-Z books used are A-Z East Sussex and A-Z West Sussex (Editions 1A 2005). Geographers' A-Z Map Company Ltd. Sevenoaks.
OS Reference:TQ027132

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Makers

Name : Francis Derwent Wood
     Role:Sculptor

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General Information

Construction period:1926
Installation date:1926
Work is:Extant
Owner custodian:St. Michael’s Church, Amberley
Object listing:Not listed
Description:Faces west.
Signatures:Bottom right hand corner of bronze relief:
F. DERWENT WOOD. 1909.
Inscription:Inscribed into stone, top section:

FRANCIS DERWENT WOOD R.A.
SCULPTOR
1871 + 1926
FLORENCE DERWENT WOOD
1873 + 1969

Raised letters on banner at top of bronze relief:

PASSVS ET
SEPVLTVS EST

(From the credo - translated: He suffered and was buried

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Classification

Categories:Sculptural, Religious, Funerary
Object type1:Relief
Object type2:Marker
     Object subtype1:Commemorative stone
Subject type1:Figurative
Subject type2:Pictorial
     Subject subtype1:Group

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Object Parts

Part 1:Relief
     Material:Bronze, patinated blue/green
     Height (cm):60
     Width (cm):108
     Depth (cm):10
Part 2:Whole monument
     Material:Stone and bronze
     Height (cm):185
     Width (cm):170
     Depth (cm):31

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Object Condition

Overall condition:Good
Risk assessment:No known risk
Condition 1 of type:Vandalism
     Condition 1: Structural damage
     More details:Stone blocks broken on both sides at the top of the monument. This damage was caused during the theft of two 15-18 inch statuettes of muses that were taken in the 1980s (information provided by the grand-daughter of Francis Derwent Wood).
Condition 2 of type:Surface
     Condition 1: Biological growth
     More details:Biological growth.
Date of on-site inspection:11/12/2007

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History

History:Over the tomb is a “Pieta” a copy of a piece which he originally carved for All Saints Church in Ennismore Gardens (later became the Russian Orthodox Cathedral). From 1918 to 1923 he was Professor of Sculpture at the Royal College of Art succeeding Lanteri and after the war it was Derwent Wood who modelled the wreaths for Sir Edwin Lutyens' Centotaph. In 1919 he also produced a sculpture called “Canada’s Golgotha” for the Canadian War Memorials Exhibition in London. This was a representation of a crucified Canadian soldier and caused a controversy involving the German and Canadian Governments. Whether the German Army actually crucified a Canadian soldier has never been either proven or disproven.
He also produced the Machine Gun Corps. Memorial on Hide Park Corner.

‘Memorial to William Wilson (d.1908), by Frank Derwent Wood, in the form of a reredos of three panels let into the alabaster dado of the apse. The central panel, inlaid on a marble ground with an oval in lapis lazuli and a vine in Mexican onyx, is flanked by carved white marble reliefs, in the early Renaissance style, of the Annunciation (Plate 94b) and a Pietà. (ref. 217) Wood exhibited the Pictà at the Royal Academy in 1910.’
('Princes Gate and Ennismore Gardens: The Kingston House Estate: Russian Orthodox Cathedral, Ennismore Gardens (formerly All Saints' Church)', Survey of London: volume 45: Knightsbridge (2000), pp. 186-190. URL: http://www.british-history.ac.uk/report.aspx?compid=45939&strquery=derwent wood. Date accessed: 12 December 2007.)

‘Wounded tommies facetiously called it ''The Tin Noses Shop.'' Located within the 3rd London General Hospital, its proper name was the ''Masks for Facial Disfigurement Department''; either way, it represented one of the many acts of desperate improvisation borne of the Great War, which had overwhelmed all conventional strategies for dealing with trauma to body, mind and soul...
''My work begins where the work of the surgeon is completed,'' said Francis Derwent Wood, the program's founder. Born in England's Lake District in 1871, of an American father and British mother, Wood had been educated in Switzerland and Germany, as well as England. Following his family's return to England, he trained at various art institutes, cultivating a talent for sculpture he had exhibited as a youth. Too old for active duty when war broke out, he had enlisted, at age 44, as a private in the Royal Army Medical Corps. Upon being assigned as an orderly to the 3rd London General Hospital, he at first performed the usual ''errand-boy-housewife'' chores. Eventually, however, he took upon himself the task of devising sophisticated splints for patients, and the realization that his abilities as an artist could be medically useful inspired him to construct masks for the irreparably facially disfigured. His new metallic masks, lightweight and more permanent than the rubber prosthetics previously issued, were custom designed to bear the prewar portrait of each wearer. Within the surgical and convalescent wards, it was grimly accepted that facial disfigurement was the most traumatic of the multitude of horrific damages the war inflicted. ''Always look a man straight in the face,'' one resolute nun told her nurses. ''Remember he's watching your face to see how you're going to react.''
Wood established his mask-making unit in March 1916, and by June 1917, his work had warranted an article in The Lancet, the British medical journal. ''I endeavour by means of the skill I happen to possess as a sculptor to make a man's face as near as possible to what it looked like before he was wounded,'' Wood wrote. ''My cases are generally extreme cases that plastic surgery has, perforce, had to abandon; but, as in plastic surgery, the psychological effect is the same. The patient acquires his old self-respect, self assurance, self-reliance,...takes once more to a pride in his personal appearance. His presence is no longer a source of melancholy to himself nor of sadness to his relatives and friends.''
Toward the end of 1917, Wood's work was brought to the attention of a Boston-based American sculptor, inevitably described in articles about her as a ''socialite.'' Born in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania, Anna Coleman Watts had been educated in Paris and Rome, where she began her sculptural studies. In 1905, at the age of 26, she had married Maynard Ladd, a physician in Boston, and it was here that she continued her work. Her sculptural subjects were mostly decorative fountains—nymphs abounding, sprites dancing—as well as portrait busts that, by today's tastes, appear characterless and bland: vaguely generic portraits of vaguely generic faces. The possibility of furthering the work by making masks for wounded soldiers in France might not have been broached to Ladd but for the fact that her husband had been appointed to direct the Children's Bureau of the American Red Cross in Toul and serve as its medical adviser in the dangerous French advance zones.
In late 1917, after consultation with Wood, now promoted to captain, Ladd opened the Studio for Portrait Masks in Paris, administered by the American Red Cross. ''Mrs. Ladd is a little hard to handle as is so often the case with people of great talent,'' one colleague tactfully cautioned, but she seems to have run the studio with efficiency and verve. Situated in the city's Latin Quarter, it was described by an American visitor as ''a large bright studio'' on upper floors, reached by way of an ''attractive courtyard overgrown with ivy and peopled with statues.'' Ladd and her four assistants had made a determined effort to create a cheery, welcoming space for her patients; the rooms were filled with flowers, the walls hung with ''posters, French and American flags'' and rows of plaster casts of masks in progress.
The journey that led a soldier from the field or trench to Wood's department, or Ladd's studio, was lengthy, disjointed and full of dread. For some, it began with a crash: ''It sounded to me like some one had dropped a glass bottle into a porcelain bathtub,'' an American soldier recalled of the day in June 1918 on which a German bullet smashed into his skull in the Bois de Belleau. ''A barrel of whitewash tipped over and it seemed that everything in the world turned white''...
The pains taken by both Wood and Ladd to produce masks that bore the closest possible resemblance to the prewar soldier's uninjured face were enormous. In Ladd's studio, which was credited with better artistic results, a single mask required a month of close attention. Once the patient was wholly healed from both the original injury and the restorative operations, plaster casts were taken of his face, in itself a suffocating ordeal, from which clay or plasticine squeezes were made. ''The squeeze, as it stands, is a literal portrait of the patient, with his eyeless socket, his cheek partly gone, the bridge of the nose missing, and also with his good eye and a portion of his good cheek,'' wrote Ward Muir, a British journalist who had worked as an orderly with Wood. ''The shut eye must be opened, so that the other eye, the eye-to-be, can be matched to it. With dexterous strokes the sculptor opens the eye. The squeeze, hitherto representing a face asleep, seems to awaken. The eye looks forth at the world with intelligence.''
This plasticine likeness was the basis of all subsequent portraits. The mask itself would be fashioned of galvanized copper one thirty-second of an inch thick—or as a lady visitor to Ladd's studio remarked, ''the thinness of a visiting card.'' Depending upon whether it covered the entire face, or as was often the case, only the upper or lower half, the mask weighed between four and nine ounces and was generally held on by spectacles. The greatest artistic challenge lay in painting the metallic surface the color of skin. After experiments with oil paint, which chipped, Ladd began using a hard enamel that was washable and had a dull, flesh-like finish. She painted the mask while the man himself was wearing it, so as to match as closely as possible his own coloring. ''Skin hues, which look bright on a dull day, show pallid and gray in bright sunshine, and somehow an average has to be struck,'' wrote Grace Harper, the Chief of the Bureau for the Reeducation of Mutilés, as the disfigured French soldiers were called. The artist has to pitch her tone for both bright and cloudy weather, and has to imitate the bluish tinge of shaven cheeks.'' Details such as eyebrows, eyelashes and mustaches were made from real hair, or, in Wood's studio, from slivered tinfoil, in the manner of ancient Greek statues...
By the end of 1919, Ladd's studio had produced 185 masks; the number produced by Wood is not known, but was presumably greater, given that his department was open longer and his masks were produced more quickly. These admirable figures pale only when held against the war's estimated 20,000 facial casualties.
By 1920, the Paris studio had begun to falter; Wood's department had been disbanded in 1919. Almost no record of the men who wore the masks survives, but even within Ladd's one-year tenure it was clear that a mask had a life of only a few years. ''He had worn his mask constantly and was still wearing it in spite of the fact that it was very battered and looked awful,'' Ladd had written of one of her studio's early patients... Few, if any, masks survive. ''Surely they were buried with their owners,'' suggested Wood's biographer, Sarah Crellin...
Anna Coleman Ladd left Paris after the armistice, in early 1919, and was evidently sorely missed: ''Your great work for the French mutilés is in the hands of a little person who has the soul of a flea,'' a colleague wrote to her from Paris. Back in America, Ladd was extensively interviewed about her war work, and in 1932, she was made a Chevalier of the French Legion of Honor. She continued to sculpt, producing bronzes that differed remarkably little in style from her prewar pieces; her war memorials inevitably depict granite-jawed warriors with perfect—one is tempted to say mask-like—features. She died at age 60 in Santa Barbara in 1939. Francis Derwent Wood died in London in 1926 at age 55. His postwar work included a number of public monuments, including war memorials, the most poignant of which, perhaps, is one dedicated to the Machine Gun Corps in Hyde Park Corner, London. On a raised plinth, it depicts the young David, naked, vulnerable, but victorious, who signifies that indispensable figure of the war to end all wars—the machine-gunner. The monument's inscription is double-edged, alluding to both the heroism of the individual gunner and the preternatural capability of his weapon: ''Saul hath slain his thousands, but David his tens of thousands.''
(Alexander, Caroline. ‘Faces of War’. Smithsonian magazine, February 2007.
http://www.smithsonianmag.com/history-archaeology/mask.html Accessed: 11/12/2007)

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References


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Photographs





Author: Anthony McIntosh
Copyright: Creative Commons




Author: Anthony McIntosh
Copyright: Creative Commons




Author: Anthony McIntosh
Copyright: Creative Commons




Author: Anthony McIntosh
Copyright: Creative Commons

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