The Diary Extracts 9 January 1879 - 19 October 1889
9 Jan. – The sparrows are much
frightened by the Old Guard & will not take the breadcrumbs from
off the foot of the pedestal. They evidently take him to be a
formidable scarecrow. This is hardly flattering to me.
11 Jan. – [The case came up over
the libellous statement in Man of the World 11 My 1878. The editor of
the paper claimed he was not the editor on the date mentioned. The
author of the article, William Mackay, denied that it referred to
Gower. On the understanding that this was so, the Lord Chief Justice
dismissed Gower’s application for a criminal information against
the publisher. This was reported in the Times for Monday, 13 Jan.
1879] Ainsi fini l’affaire! – I commenced today to write rough
notes of my Autobiography, my Artistic Life!
18 Jan. – To Paris – meeting
Clary Sinclair (Sir J.J. Sinclair’s son) a charming fellow in the
guards at Boulogne.
21 Jan. – Called on Gustave Doré,
but he was not in his studio and I did not wait for him.
22 Jan. – Thank you letter from
the Prince Imperial for a gift of the reduction of the Old Guard.
“Votre ouvrage rappelle un temps òu nous étions
ennemis”. Went to the studio.
24 Jan. – [Gower saw his Old Guard
for sale at Goupil’s. “Thus one of my ambitions has been
satisfied, that of seeing one of my works shown in perhaps the most
artistic of Paris shops.]
25 Jan. – Made up for much lost
time by passing the afternoon and evening in the studio. Dizzy grows
apace……. I think my two seated statuettes will be a success &
I don’t think if I send the pieces together to the Academy, they
will be rejected, but as they are small works I shall perhaps try to
get Sir Coutts Lindsay to allow them to be exhibited at the Grosvenor
Gallery. I have now an idea of a third portrait likeness, of the size
of these two of Gladstone & Dizzy, viz. Victor Hugo, after the
photo I purchased at Goupil’s, only here my difficulty will be with
the profile, as I don’t know him well and I have no profile photo
of him to assist in this.
26 Jan. – This evening was devoted
to art and Dizzy.
27 Jan. – [Gower went to Goupil’s
and saw there Marie Antoinette and the Salvator Mundi in bronze
argenté. “Dizzy is getting on as well as possible”.]
29 Jan. – [ Gower is sick and
gives his seats at the theatre to Madrassi and the Le Bouviers.
30 Jan. – [Macmahon becomes
[Inserted here, a copy of a letter
from Disraeli, dated 4 Feb. saying that he and his friends are
impressed by Gower’s statuette, of which he has received a
photograph, both as a work of art and a likeness]
Feb. [start of] – [Called on
Victor Hugo and Doré, “two of the foremost geniuses of this
country”.] I told him [V.H.] of my project to make his statuette.
He then said he should not have time to give me sittings, which I
never for a moment expected, or asked, but that he thought there were
good photos to be had of him at Guernsey. I shall look in on him some
day next week and try to get a photo of his head. G. Doré was at
work on a life-size group of beggar English children, a good and more
carefully painted composition than his in general were last time I
saw him. He was furious at having received no reward for his works at
the Exhibition. Now, however, he has got the Grand Croix of the
Legion of Honour, but still he is not happy, and said what I believe
to be quite true, that the civil distribution of this order did an
enormous deal of harm, and caused an endless amount of ill-feeling
among French people. He seemed half flattered when I told him that I
hoped to make a statuette of him as a pendant to one of Victor Hugo.
“Mais dans quelle catégorie vous me placez!” And he asked me and
placed himself into the attitude I wish to do him in, viz. one leg
tucked under the other as he sits sideways in his chair.
3 Feb. – Sent off photo to Ld.
Beaconsfield (a bad one) See letter opposite. The Beaconsfield
statuette is now cast – in plaster of course – and even in that
most unbecoming of materials looks remarkably well.
4 Feb. – Breakfasted at Le Doyen
(in the Champs Elysées) with Gustave Doré, he more morose even than
usual, having a bad cold. The talented fool wants to be married, but
whether to an English one or not he cannot decide. He is devoted to
the Prince of Wales, as it is through him that he is made recently
Officer of the Legion of Honour. He, G.D., is one of the most
miserable, if not the most miserable man, I know, and I admire him
less than I despise him. To the studio after.
Feb. [I failed here to take note of
the day] – [Gower and Dowler went together to Victor Hugo’s. Hugo
talked about the Universal Republic, until “gradually falling into
a peaceful slumber”. He awoke and “I told him that I had
commenced a statuette of him, and that I would send him a photograph
12 Feb. – I called on G. Doré to
wish him goodbye and to thank him for the kind manner in which he
wrote about getting me elected a member of the Mirliton, or Cercle de
l’Union Artistique (to give it its name in full) club. The election
will be on Friday. My other parrain will be a Mon. St Marceaux, a
sculptor. G.D. foresees no chance of black-balling, but I do and
should not be much surprised if I am. G.D. is working with wondrous
rapidity on a huge canvas some forty feet by twenty of the Death of
Orpheus. He has a real mania for these huge compositions. He is a
queer genius. But on the whole it is impossible not to like him and
15 Feb. – Returned to London.
2 March – To Paris.
3 March – I passed the evening in
the studio…… Victor Hugo is commenced. He will be as large as the
Gladstone and the Beaconsfield, and I hope in the course of time to
make a pendant statuette to his of Gustave Doré. Victor Hugo’s
attitude is taken practically from the fine photogravure by Goupil,
seated in an armchair, resting his head on his left hand. I heard a
day or two ago that the bust of Montague I sent to New York could not
find a publisher. H. (H. Montague) has already forgotten!!!
4 March – Late I called on Gustave
Doré. He had met with difficulty regarding my proposed election to
the Mirliton Club, as they, he said, did not like foreigners in it.
If they chose to make use of the ‘mot de Cambronne’ they liked to
do so without being overheard by English. They get heated and excited
over their politics etc. Then, as regarded my particular candidature,
he had been unable, when asked such simple questions as my age and
what clubs I belonged to in London, to answer these questions. My
seconder, a Monsieur whose name I do not remember, but whom Doré
said would be glad to 2nd him in proposing me, confessed
to the committee that he did not even know me by sight, and then,
what seems to have made matters worse, they (the committee) found
that I had left Paris. If he thinks, they said, that this club “est
une auberge”, he is mistaken, although he treats his election so
cavalierly. As it happens I could have stopped on in Paris, had it
not been that G. Doré told me there was not the slightest necessity
for so doing. The fact is he has mismanaged the whole affair, and I
regret now that I did not take Dowler’s address when last here, to
have him as my “parent” instead of poor G.D., who although so
great an artist, is as wanting in worldly knowledge & tact as a
5 March – Although the thing will
not ever probably come about, I think it well to put down one’s
(artistic) fancies. This one came to me as I walked down the
Boulevard, to place beneath the 4 upright seated figures in the
Shakespeare Monument, four groups of two figures each, to wit Lear
and Cordelia, Romeo and Juliet, Cleopatra and Anthony, Othello and
Desdemona, the two first seated, or rather lying, the others
standing, but I don’t know whether this would be practicable.
Spent the evening in the studio. I
have a letter from the secretary of the Carlton Club, to say that the
committee, although generally admiring the statuette of Ld
Beaconsfield, declines having it made in marble, having already a
portrait of him. So this is worth [?] little, but a very small
disappointment, but how an artists can live who is without means or
patronage I wonder at more every day.
6 March – Meissner doing heads of
M. A. & Old Guard.
7 March – Bid Doré goodbye.
……..G. Doré had only this morning returned from Rennes, had, he
told me, passed the night in the train, but was painting away at his
large picture of the Death of Orpheus, perched on a platform some
twenty feet in the air, as if he had passed all night in his bed. It
is but half finished, and even with his wonderful power of doing an
immensity of work in a short space of time, cannot, I should think,
possibly be finished in time to send in to the salon next month. It
was very plucky [?] of the man to have gone the other day away, in
order not to succumb to the temptation of finishing, or rather trying
to finish this work for the Salon, as he himself confesses to that
being almost an impossibility, but the wish was too strong for his
sense, and he has returned, unable to keep away from the temptation.
8 March [Set off for Italy]
26 March – [Rome] In the afternoon
called on the Storys in a new house he has built in a street called
Maccao, near the railway station. I found the eldest son in his
studio, who also sculpts, but what he was at work on showed very
small talent. The second son, Julian, was out. I also was shown all
the elder Story’s works, and himself at work on a [illegible]
figure of a bearded man in an Assyrian dress, which he calls
Sardanapalus, and which has been bought by Count Palffy, and is to be
sent to his Pompeian House [next passage badly smudged and illegible]
I have never seen any studio [smudge] that I care a rush for. He has
no inspiration [?] or real talent, but certainly refinement and grace
in his works. Mrs S. & daughter were there, Madame S. flaunting
[?] herself before her husband’s productions. [on the previous page
Gower had written that Julian Story was ‘a nice fellow, a Brasenose
student and a painter’]
7 April – Back to Paris.
8 April – Passed all the afternoon
in the studio, where Victor Hugo’s statuette is making good
progress, but I no longer expect any [illegible] or interest in such
13 April – Called on Prince
Leopold, Hotel Bristol. P.L. was most affable and expressed a wish to
see my studio, which event will take place tomorrow. To the studio
where I remained till dark. Madrassi much excited by the idea of a
Royal visit there.
14 April – The Prince showed much
intelligent interest in the different things we showed him,
especially some of Madrassi’s pretty groups, and also a child’s
head that he modelled while the Prince was present. After, we looked
in at the [illegible] restaurant where I and Madrassi have often
dined . H.R.H seemed highly pleased at a glass of absinthe we
indulged in, and even insisted on tasting some absinthe in spite of
his doctor’s disapproval. After this we went to Doré’s studio,
but here we were again unlucky, G.D. being away, and the only live
animals there to receive us, his Auvergnat servant Jean, and the two
magnificent Scotch owls. Here we saw many of Doré’s latest works,
statues etc.. Prince Leopold liked best a head of an old man and a
child. I left them after this, after a pleasant four hours with
certainly a charming young fellow, intelligent, kind, and without the
tiresome craving for amusement and buffoonery that distinguishes some
of his brothers.
16 April – [Gower’s leg in a
nasty state. Advised to rest]
20 April – [Letter from Constance
from Eaton Hall, referring to a tiring trial, at which she has been
in the witness box] I wrote asking her whether it did not make her
feel more for my Queen, what a trial hers was! And I suggested her
reading Carlyle’s account of it. Breakfasted with Jimmy Gallatin at
his home in the Avenue Montaigne, “to meet” Julian Story. I have
made up my mind to go and see him as soon as I get back, at Oxford.
21 April – [note from G. Doré] as
ill-written as usual. ‘Mon cher Gower, j’ai
bien regretté de ne pas m’être trouvé à mon atelier lors de
votre visite et de celle du Prince. Quand viendrez vous me voir ?
J’ai rendu ma visite au prince, qui j’ai eu la chance de
rencontrer. G. Doré.’
22 April – To the studio after
breakfast but did not remain long. I have got a man to do Victor
Hugo’s chair for me, rather too elaborate a chair for a Republican,
I fear. Gower hears from Constance about an inaccurate report in the
Whitehall Revue of Prince Leopold’s visit to the studio. He writes
to the Prince to disclaim responsibility for this]
25 April – Called on Gustave Doré,
who was working away like one possessed on his large picture of the
Death of Orpheus. It appears he has been asked to finish it for the
Salon, and he has four days left to do what would take anyone else 2
or 3 months at least, for the huge canvas is far from complete. His
old Alsatian mother was there, and I could not prevail on her that
her son’s work was still unfinished. ‘Mais qu’est-ce qu’il en
faut?’ the old crone asked repeatedly. My best answer would have
been the fact that Doré was still working on it. To give an idea of
his wondrous rapidity of execution, he put in in a few moments, with
a few vigorous strokes of a large brush the recumbent figure in the
right of the foreground, just as another man could rub in a bit of
colour in the sky of his work.
27 April – [Visit to Victor Hugo]
I had put the photo of his statuette in my pocket, and he seemed
quite pleased with it. In the room was another statuette of him, a
poor thing, in the affected pose of Roubiliac’s Shakespeare in
28 April – I went to the studio
for about the last time this visit. Victor Hugo’s chair is making
rapid progress. Perhaps its fault is that it is too ornamented, but
if done in bronze it will look well.
29 April – A farewell visit to the
30 April – Left Paris.
1 May – To Brucciani and the
Academy, where I heard that both my statuettes of Beaconsfield and
Gladstone had been refused: tant pis but I shall make them
known to the public quand même.
2 May – [Gower visited the R.A.
with Constance. He was impressed by Millais’s portrait of
Gladstone, which had been bought by the Duke of Westminster]
3 May – [Prince of Wales invites
Gower to Marlborough House] He said he had wished to express his
regret at my ever having for a moment imagined that he would have
given respect or credence to any stories against me, that he and his
family had been on terms of greater intimacy with my family than
almost any other, that he only wished I would be prudent about the
friends I made etc..
4 May – [Gower recaps on his
account of his visit to the Prince of Wales] he showed me, placed in
a kind of shrine at the angle of a bookcase, a marble statuette of a
half-draped nymph, her arm flung over her head. He told me it was by
Boehm, ‘and who do you think stood for this figure’. Of course I
could not guess, and luckily did not suggest that it might have been
the Princess [Princess Louise previously referred to] as did the
actual Pope [?] about a certain crude miniature of a lady shown him
on a snuffbox. ‘Skittles’ said H.R.H., with delight. He told me
to be sure to go and see what Boehm was doing of Princess Alice of
Hesse, her monument or tomb or both.
6 May – [Gower took Dr Böde of
the Berlin Museum over the paintings at Stafford House. He commented,
“very well up in pictures” but his English bad. Letter from
Millais quoted, thanking Gower for his good opinion of the Gladstone
7 May – Madrassi writes to say
that my little Salvator Mundi has been accepted by the Salon in
Paris, so at any rate I have a little work in an exhibition this
9 May – To Brucciani’s where I
had a statuette of Dizzy sent to him at Downing St. & one of
Gladstone to Harley St. [?]
10 May – [Gower met Disraeli at a
meeting of the Trustees of the National Portrait Gallery] I did my
best to persuade him to give Millais a few sittings. He said of
Millais that he actually had said that he would not require more than
4 or 5, ‘but’, he added, ‘I suppose that means 8 or 9, but he
said he would consider it, and I hope that if he is really anxious to
paint him as a pendant to his picture of Gladstone, it may still be
11 May – [Gower had written to
Millais about the above] It would be quite a national misfortune did
he miss the opportunity of painting him.
12 May - [Letter from Gladstone
thanking him for the statuette] Mrs G. thought the hair looked rather
‘mad’. I was on the point of telling her that in the statuette of
Dizzy the hair looked very soignée, but I refrained. [Letter
from Millais] ‘Gladstone sat to me only 5 times if I remember
aright, but it depends upon the humour one is in, whether so short a
time is sufficient. However I will gladly take my chance’. [Gower
comments, ‘If Dizzy does sit, then the print of the picture should
be dedicated methinks to me’]
14 May – Called….on Oscar Wilde
who occupies F. Miles’s chambers in Salisbury Street, a strange
half-mad and very poetical Irishman, son of a celebrated Dublin
physician, Sir William Wilde. His mother, Lady Wilde, was with him
when I called, but I did not see her. She wrote many years ago under
the name of ‘Speranza’ or ‘Esperanza’ some very Rebellious,
it was before the days of Feinianism, letters in an Irish paper.
[letter from Disraeli, dated 12 May
– ‘My dear Lord, You have conferred on me a great honour. All my
friends who have seen your beautiful work, pronounce it the best
likeness which has yet been accomplished of your present
correspondent. I wish, for his sake, it had been received by the
Academy. I feel confident the day will come when your works will find
no difficulty in being admitted to their saloons. Sincerely yours,
Beaconsfield’. Gower comments ‘This last sentence seems to me to
show that Dizzy did not see, or if he saw, has forgotten the statues
of the Old Guard & Marie Antoinette, but it is not likely he saw
19 May – [Gower goes up to Oxford
to visit Julian Story who was preparing for an exam]
21 May – Back to town.
9 June – [visit to Theodore Watts
Dunton and Swinburne. Gower writes of Watts Dunton ‘an acquaintance
I made some year or two ago at A. Campbell’s, and who promised that
I should meet the author of Atalalanta [sic] at his house]
Alas, the poet is a mere wreck, a feeble, tottery young man of less
than 40, but evidently in not the first stages of DT, his hands and
even his arms, when he talks and gets excited, almost convulsed, his
face a ghastly white, and half the hair gone from off his head, but
still full of genius and talent. He told us of a strange rencontre of
his father, who only died in 1860 aged 99. Late in the last century,
when travelling in the South of France he met a traveller whose
carriage had broken down in a forest, and who, hatless and wigless,
was running in a terrible manner in the road, but he knew from his
manner that he was a gentleman, and invited him to continue his
journey in his carriage, and never did he meet with so fascinating
and delightful companion. Inquiring, this turned out to be Mirabeau!
But I cannot tell the tale as it was told me. Before lunch poor
A.C.S. asked Watts for brandy and with a shaky hand toped off a
wineglass of strong brandy at a draught……… Swinburne was most
brilliant, and I was loth to leave such brilliant talk. [Follows a
mournful reflection by Gower on Swinburne’s sad fate, ‘sadder
than the end of Shelley or Keats, and infinitely more so than
Byron’s. What struck me most was the real diffident sensibility of
the man, although evidently fully conscious of his genius’]
10 June – To Paris
11 June – To the Salon. G. Dorés
Death of Orpheus looks well. It is a marvel when I remember that
within 2 or 3 days of his sending it in it was not much more than one
third completed. The sculpture is unusually poor, but what care I so
long as my little Salvator Mundi has found a place. It is not in the
great space among the other sculpture and flowers, but almost by
itself on the top of a kind of huge case, on the sides of which the
colours [illegible] are arranged in one of the picture galleries.
[One of Gower’s American friends, Stephen Parker, was showing a
Martyrdom of St Sebastian]
12 June – Called at the studio.
They have got to work in placing the pedestal, or rather a portion of
it, a 3rd part in fact that will form the base of the
13 June – At the studio and at
Meissner’s – my bronziste.
14 June – Called on Gustave Doré
at his studio in the afternoon. He leaves for London tomorrow, and I
shall not miss him. His studio full of fresh pictures since I was
there little more than a month ago. Certainly a miraculous creative
genius, but a most [illegible] man in mind and character.
16 June – [Drawing of the pedestal
of the Shakespeare Monument]
19 June – Till near midnight I
stayed on at the studio – the figure of Hamlet, over life-size, now
figures on the pedestal, and already seems full of life and, above
all, thought. Indeed I think the pose of the figure extremely happy,
so meditative, calm and grand. May I be able to see the figures and
the whole of this monument fitly completed, in plaster at any rate, I
may hope to see it finished, but I am not sanguine enough to expect
to see it as I would wish, permanently rendered in bronze and
granite. The expense would not be the greatest difficulty, as
Madrassi says £2000 could pay for it. But the size would be the
difficulty, unless I were to find some Deus ex machina of a
patron in a Mayor of Stratford.
20 June – [Gower heard about the
death of the Prince Imperial]
22 June – [Gower took a letter he
had written on the death of the Prince Imperial to the Figaro
offices, after receiving delivery of reductions of the Old Guard]
23 June – The Figaro of today does
me the honour of saying that I am ‘sculpteur de talent’. It
inserts the poor Prince Imperial’s letter.
24 June – At Versailles. Vela’s
statue, a fine creation, of the first emperor dying, has been placed
in the room where Gros’s are of scenes of his life.
26 June – Great interest in the
statue of the Old Guard after the publication of the Prince
27 June – Luca Madrassi arranged
that one [a reduction of the Old Guard] should be shown in the little
gallery attached to Figaro’s offices, and where all manner of
prints, pictures and photos of such things as are likely to tickle
the interest of the sensation-loving Parisian are displayed, a kind
of pictorial morgue in fact…..
28 June – [To Berlin and then on
22 July – [Back in Paris]
23 July – To my studio, where
Hamlet sits contemplating the skull, clothed, but hardly in his right
mind. I am not quite satisfied as to the cloak yet. What a bore it is
that one can have no easier dress for this Prince of Denmark. I
intend to make the costume as plain and as little ‘prononcé’ as
26 July – Bought a new parrot for
Madame Le Bouvier.
27 July – [Gower visited the Baron
D’Oyley. “In a summerhouse of the prettily laid out garden is a
life-size nude statue of ‘La Martyre Chrétienne’, for which the
celebrated Mde. De Castiglione sat as a model. This had been placed
in the private garden of the Tuileries, but had so much offended the
Empress that it had to be removed, and after the war it was bought by
M. d’O……..A refined American, a former intimate of the
29 July – Back to London.
28 Aug. – To Paris.
3 Sept. – At length I have again
got seriously to work on the Hamlet. I hope he will be cast the day
before I go to Spain. I think he is good. Certainly the pose is easy
and dignified and appropriate.
5 Sept. – An entrancing warm but
most beautiful day. I passed it in the studio. Have slightly altered
the expression in the face of Hamlet. Before it did not express much
feeling and looked too youthful for a man of thirty, and a man who
had suffered as he had, but it is now expressive and old enough. It
is difficult for me to know how long this monument will be a-doing,
if it gets ever done. The Hamlet may be ready in a month, but he is
only one of four figures, all of which will require an equal degree
of time and work. Probably yet two more years will have to pass
before it is finished. About 1882 or 3.
8 Sept. – Called with Madrassi on
the Meissners [Gower impressed by their hospitality]
9 Sept. – Long day with my Hamlet.
By the way, Doré is now away from Paris, but returns next week. I
can’t say I regret not seeing him, and I am quite relieved at not
having the boredom of breakfasting with him.
10 Sept. – Next week Hamlet will
12 Sept. – To the studio to wish
it and Luca Madrassi a brief farewell. The Hamlet will soon be in
26 Sept. – To Paris.
27 Sept. – All the afternoon in
the studio. The Hamlet is now cast and really looks as he should
look, and now begins the Falstaff, with his wicked old face and his
huge paunch. It will be a grand contrast to the other, but I still
have some doubts as to the effect of fat in sculpture. However one
must try and make the best of it. Belly or no belly, but belly it
must and will be.
28 Sept. = Spent the afternoon over
Falstaff. I think he will be a success as far as I can yet judge, but
I expect people will say that so large a paunch is out of place in
sculpture. He has taken an immense deal of clay.
29 Sept. – Dined with Blackiston.
Perhaps if I am alone & can afford it next year I shall take the
ground floor of 64 Faubourg St Honoré below his rooms, as, to
complete the Shakespeare Monument, I shall have to pass a good deal
of the year in Paris. Falstaff is now making satisfactory progress,
but not one half of the monument is yet begun.
30 Sept. – A long day over
Falstaff. A lucky thought struck me, viz. to raise his fat 1st
finger and place it near his jolly red nose. This has accentuated [?]
his fat form considerably……. I am in high spirits regarding my
work. If ever cast in bronze, the statues alone and at the smallest
computation will cost £600, pedestal 2 or 3 more. In all from 1 to
1,100 £. If they will let me place it at Stratford I’ll pay it.
1 Oct. – A last turn at the
Falstaff during the afternoon. I can leave him feeling confident in
his ultimate success. Left Paris for Spain.
19 Nov. From London to Paris.
20 Nov. – To the studio where
Falstaff seemed quite in good humour at seeing me again, looking as
waggish as possible with his uplifted finger and the empty cup in his
pudgy right hand, but I was rather too tired to do much, and came
away earlier than is my wont.
21 Nov. – All the afternoon and
evening in the studio.
22 Nov. – To the studio afternoon
and evening. My latest idea is to send the Hamlet to the next
exhibition of the London Academy.
25 Nov. – Cold continues, and so
does Falstaff, who I hope will be moulded this week and ready for my
return when I shall begin the Henry V.
26 Nov. – [Leaves Paris]
29 Nov. – [Princess Louise calls
on Gower at Gower Lodge]
10 Jan. – Arrd. Paris
12 Jan. – [Visit to Taine – as
it appears in published Reminiscences] Worked at the studio. The
Prince Hal is what I have now in hand. The Falstaff is now finished
and in plaster.
17 Jan. – This morning dear old
Scharf (the…………of the National Portrait Gallery) sent me a
capital sketch of the costume in which Henry V is supposed to have
been dressed on the occasion of purloining & trying on his
father’s crown, but I do not mean to be strictly correct in my
statue, as the hanging sleeves and rather voluminous jacket would
spoil the look of the really graceful figure, and I shall clothe him
in as tight fitting a costume as possible, and I only regret I cannot
have him stark naked, as he now is, for the attitude lends itself
admirably to the light and youthful figure. Mais ce que dirai [sic]
22 Jan. – From 2 to 5 I was at my
studio, beginning now to clothe H.R.H Prince Hal. No decoration
whatever, unless later as I find it necessary to give him
[illegible]. This is to make ‘resortir’ the gorgeous crown that
he bears above his head in his hands.
24 Jan. – A long day at the
studio. A little alteration to the Prince. He is now girt with a
girdle and wears a poniard. The figure had looked, in its very close
fitting dress rather too much uinclothed, but this little detail
helps the general effect much.
25 Jan. – A happy inspiration (at
least what I hope will turn out well enough to qualify such phrase)
seized me this evening at the studio. In altering the attitude of
Lady Macbeth, instead of being in that of a woman intently listening,
I think now of making her at the supreme moment when she, carried
away by murderous excitement, exclaims ‘Infirm of purpose, give me
the daggers’, her head thrown eagerly forward, her arms, with
both hands clenched as if she already grasped the poniards, thrown
slightly back, and an expression of tremendous fierceness on her low
browed face! It does not at any rate sound [illegible] her look,
which in the small clay sketch, but one cannot yet tell what effect
it will make when size of life. Madrassi’s opinion is that it is
almost excessive in movement for a statue, but even if it were rather
too much so, it would make all the better contrast with the calm,
dignified figure of Tragedy crowning the poet above, and the monument
must be looked at more as a whole than in its separate parts. A good
long day’s work at the studio, to the neglect of [illegible] and
everything else, but I am now entirely engrossed by my Shakespeare,
so I hope that this engrossment will be an excuse for the things that
ought to have been , but which have been left undone.
26 Jan. – In a week or 10 days
Henry V will be ready to be cast in plaster, and after that Lady
Macbeth will be taken in hand, but before commencing the large statue
of her, I should return for some time to England.
27 Jan. – Difficulties still
regarding the sketch for Lady Macbeth. I have now a wish to try how
the night-walking scene, in which she is reading the letter, will do.
Difficulty will be with the hands, as these would have to be almost
placed under her Ladyship’s nose. Also the night-gown would, in its
generous folds, too much resemble the figure above of Tragedy, but we
28 Jan. – Made some alterations on
the figure of Prince Henry, by lengthening his ‘juste-au-corps’,
a real improvement, and he looks much more clothed by this alteration
than he did.
3 Feb. – Back to London after a
bout of flu.
11 March – To Paris. To the
studio, where I found Henry V and Luca Madrassi expectant.
15 March – When I was last here, I
thought of making her [Lady Macbeth] say ‘give me the daggers’
but the sketch is a little canaille, as Madrassi remarks, in
its attitude, and I have now another project, which is to make her in
the sleep soliloquy, with clenched hands and terrified, sightless
open eyes – altogether more statuesque and better adapted for a
monument than the rather [illegible] pose of the first conception.
16 March – The Hamlet was packed
up today to be sent to the Academy & the little Salvator Mundi
(after Bronzino) for the Grosvenor Gallery. If the R.A. refuse to
admit the Prince of Denmark, I shall make a row, for he certainly
would at least hold his own among the sculptors’ things in
Burlington House. I intend sending the Henry V and the little seated
statuette of Victor Hugo to the Exhibition here.
17 March – Watched Henry V being
cast in plaster. Falstaff is having 2 or 3 additional inches put on
his stomach, and is now, I imagine, fat enough.
18 March – The casting finished of
Prince Hal & it is I think entirely satisfactory.
19 March – With Hagger to the
studio before bkfst. He liked Prince Hal, but did not like the way
the hair is cut round the face, but this is of course, as I told him,
unavoidable. Left Paris in the evening for Cannes.
26 March – Back to Paris.
27 March – Good afternoon’s work
in the studio, where Lady Macbeth begins to make a respectable and I
hope rather terrific appearance.
30 March – [Gower met Allen
Thornhill Rice, editor of the North American Review. Very impressed]
He wishes to erect a statue of Washington Irving, and in this I think
I can help him. Perhaps I shall make a sketch if I can get a
portrait. [In the evening Gower met Raoul Perrin] A pleasing young
fellow who divides a butterfly existence between this and London. His
parents were of the South, ruined by the Civil War, but having had
slaves one can hardly feel regret at the fact.
2 April – The last three days of
my life have been passed in the studio and in occasional parties at
night [One of these took him to Aida with Verdi conducting. The heat
and crowd so awful they had to leave]
3 April – I walked part of the way
to the studio with W [Duke of Westminster]. He expressed real
disappointment at not having been able to see my studio, and in a
moment of enthusiasm I opened my heart to him about the Shakespeare
Monument being done in terracotta & placed in the building of
which he showed me the design when I was in Cannes. I imagine there
is good reason to hope this will someday be accomplished. I told him
there would only be one of the statues that might not be able to be
done in terracotta, that is the one of Prince Henry, which, owing to
the slight support for the figure, might be difficult to reproduce in
T.C. without it breaking off at the ankle. He suggested a cloak to
support it. This showed me that he wished for the idea of having the
monument at Eaton carried out, and of course if it could not be done
in T.C. in its present state, the cloak could be easily added. Took
Raoul Perrin to the studio.
5 April – I have seen a great deal
lately of Raoul Perrin whom I like extremely. He has sat to Détaille
for a figure of a Scotch piper, of which there is an illustration in
that rather bizarre publication La Vie Moderne.
13 April – To Poilpot’s studio
near the Parc Monceau, where Raoul Perrin is sitting and where a
large sketch for a panorama of Balaclava is being sketched, which is
to be completed in six months in London, and occupy the space of old
burnt down [space] House in Leicester Square. Lady Macbeth engaged
the rest of the day.
17 April – To London.
30 April – [Gower went with
Constance and a friend to the Royal Academy] I took them to admire my
Hamlet, and they did admire it. Also young Thornycroft’s Diana,
which I like better each time I see it. This statue has quite altered
my idea that in our times and country it is impossible to make a fine
nude statue. On the whole a poor and vulgar show. [They went on to
the Grosvenor Gallery to see the Salvator Mundi] Looked well with a
light from the top on its little red body and head.
2 May – Back to Paris.
3 May – [Gower called on Sarah
Bernhardt] She was on her way to her ‘maître’ the painter
4 May – Called on S.B. again. She
was too tired and said call again tomorrow.
5 & 6 May – To the Salon with
Raoul Perrin. The sculpture was completely spoil by the shining light
of the [illegible] Prince Hal did not look himself at all. Called on
Sarah Bernhardt. Her studio a perfect gem, full of precious stuffs,
plants and – rubbish. Very affable and invited herself to my studio
at cock crow this (Thurs. 6 May) morning. I was at her house at 8am,
and she kept me waiting among her beautiful stuffs, rubbish etc. in
her studio till 8.30. We then drove in her hired [?] to the Salon, as
she had wished to see my Henry V and Victor Hugo. We hurried through
the rooms, and although it was so early, a small crowd followed us,
she all in black except her red hair which flamed like a meteor
behind, and made her, in spite of her plain dress, very conspicuous,
with a bunch of giroflés fastened on her left side. I like
her much. She is very unaffected and natural and seems to like to see
the funny side of people and pictures. We then drove to my studio,
and I really think she liked Lady Macbeth. The drapery fell into a
graceful shape behind. The covering fell, I mean – and she, with
the eye of a genius, said “do that”, “c’est parfait”, and
do it I will. She then took me to her ‘maître’, Stevens, the
Belgian genre painter with whom she works, paints I mean, in the rue
des Martyrs. She has a still-life painting in hand there – fleur
de lys & Japaneses idols, giroflés etc.. Stevens, a
fine grey-haired man of fifty, very civil, and then both of us, dying
of hunger, went to her house, where we breakfasted in a lovely
dining-room, and I left her at last at 1pm.
10 May – Back to England.
16 May – [Gower saw the
Kesselstadt mask of Shakespeare. This passage is included in full in
the published Reminscences]
1 June – [ Visit to Stratford,
where Dr Becker, the guardian or owner of the Kesselstadt mask, was
staying with C. Flower, ex-mayor of Stratford, and benefactor of the
Memorial Theatre. Gower says that he also stayed with flower on this
2 June – Perhaps this good Mr
Flower may help me to get it (the monument) placed there, a
consummation devoutly to be wished.
3 June – To Paris [Santa
Severina’s duel, as in published Reminiscences]
6 June – To my neglected studio. A
great improvement has been made on the consoles of the monument,
which have now masks and flowers on them.
8 June – [Gower is sitting for his
portrait to Léopold Flameng, near Mantes]
10 June – Back to Paris from the
11 June – [More discussion with
Rice about the Washington Irving statue for New York] He has seen and
likes much my statuette of Victor Hugo. [Gower asked him for
portraits of Washington Irving] I would suggest Mr Simmonds [probably
Franklin Simmons] if there were any feelings against it being by any
but an American (however Washington’s statue is to be made by a
German, so that I think they will hardly object to an Englishman
12 June – Visit to Nadar’s
14 June – The latest idea of the
Shakespeare work is to have fruits and flowers emblematic of the four
seasons placed along, or rather above the four consoles that surround
the pedestals; ivy for Winter, grapes for Autumn, roses for Summer!
15 June – [At the Salon] Met an
old Cambridge acquaintance, C.D. Lawes, himself a sculptor, if one
can call a man who turns out such terrible fat naked women in
16 June – [Modifications to the
Shakespeare bust] I have tried to make it like the Stratford-on-Avon
bust, and also like the cast, which is after all, not a difficult
19 June – I leave Paris after a
good spell of work, & I feel in good heart respecting the
[In England, Gower entertained the
25 Aug. – To Paris.
3 Sept. – [Gower walks in the
Champs Elysées with Madrassi, after seeing what he has been doing at
the studio of Gustave Doré, who was away in Switzerland] This is not
yet finished, ten little men supporting one another, not a very
artistic idea, but it has been admirably carried out, and I suppose
it will be much admired when published. Some Jews have bought it to
reproduce in bronze.
1 & 2 Oct. – At the studio,
modifying Shakespeare’s bust. Madrassi estimated the cost of
casting the various pieces of statuary, twelve in all, at £1000
[Gower considers finding a sponsor for the pedestal and paying for
the statuary himself]
3 Oct. – [Gower inspects the
damage to the Pavillon de Flore after the fire] The sculpture outside
on the river side, of the Flora by Carpeau [sic] is not even
4 Oct. – The bust of Shakespeare
will be ready for casting some day this week, and then the Muses
[will be attended to (?)]
6 Oct. - The bust of the bard was
being moulded. At work on the skirts of the Muse of Tragedy.
8 Oct. – Comedy has had to be cast
in two, as, now that the bust of Shakespeare has been placed on its
pedestal, it was found in the way. The skirt of the robe of Tragedy
has been lengthened & falls down as far as the third step of the
9 Oct. – [Gower visits Dampierre
and sees Simart’s chryselephantine Minerva] Simarre I think was the
name of the sculptor of this. It looks like a huge doll, and cost so
much that the Duc de Luynes destroyed the account, and so no-one will
ever know what this silly doll did cost. [He admires Cavelier’s
Penelope and Rude’s Louis XIII]
12 Oct. – I am anxious to get my
Shakespeare folly finished if possible by the end of the year, at
least as far as my work is concerned, for of course the moulding and
architectural works of the base and pedestal – the base which will
cover 15ft will be done by others – they are in fact in hand, and I
think, by the time the whole thing is finished, it will be found,
like the family portrait of the Vicar of Wakefield, too large to move
out of the room it is done in. In fact, Madrassi expects to have to
get ‘un terrain’, when the time comes before the Exhibition is
opened, to place it where the jury can see it to advantage.
27 Oct. – The Comedy is a very
long job, so much drapery to be got over, but I think the expression
of the head is very happy. She doesn’t smile too much, and it is
certainly not a grimace that she is making, as she looks up at her
28 Oct. – I have told O’Connor
to ask Mr Flower of Stratford to find a site for it.
7 Nov. – Sent a short notice on
the Shakespeare Mon. to the editor of the Art Journal.
24 Nov. – See no reason for
doubting it will be entirely set up by April. As to the casting in
bronze, I fear that will have to remain a pleasant ambition.
25 Nov. – [Marcus Huish wrote to
say there would be an article on the Shakespeare Monument, and an
engraving of Lady Macbeth in the February Art Journal].
27 Nov. – The consoles are being
worked on by Monsieur Ledru, the best florist sculptor in Paris, and
they promise well.
9 Dec. – [With François Flameng,
the painter son of Léopold Flameng] Visited three of the best living
sculptors, viz. Delaplanche, Falguière, and Mercier [sic].
The two latter seemed more occupied with painting than with
sculpture, although an Italian female model was posing in Falguière’s
studio, the most conspicuous object there was a life-size and
unfinished St Sebastian. Falguière is a short, dark, rather
forbidding looking man of forty five or thereabouts, but rose
although sitting down. Evidently full of the flame of genius. His
woman (Muse), playing a violin, well-known through Brabedienne’s
reproduction in bronze, is one of the finest bits of modern French
sculpture. [Gower seems to be confusing Falguière with Delaplanche
here]. Delaplanche is a fat, good-natured, plain, rather [illegible]
man. I took quite a liking to him. He was, for a wonder, not
painting, but working oin a memorial that is to form a sort of
fountain for Lyons. We spoke of d’Épinay, the sculptor, gambler
[?] friend of Sir F. Leighton, and did he get ill-spoken of – Ye
Gods! In the studio of the creator of Gloria Victis [Mercié] we
found him painting a profile of a rather pretty model. Some other
paintings – one of a poor widow, or motherly peasant, more strictly
[?] – were in his studio – as well as a model of his first great
success, viz. David with his right foot on Goliath’s head, in the
act of sheathing his sword. Mercier [sic] is a bright-eyed,
good-looking individual, not more than 5 or 6 and thirty, and already
famous, and so justly so.
31 Dec. – [Eaton Hall] Boehm is
coming here this evening from town, to see about the site (in the
chapel) of the recumbent monument he is to execute of Constance. He
writes to say the cast is as good as it can possibly be. [This must
refer to the plaster cast taken from his clay model, as the final
work is in marble]
8 Feb. – [Paris] I found Madrassi
hard at work on a statuette of ‘L’Esprit du Mal’ for Lady
Anglesey, and a life-size mournful figure of a draped female figure,
destined for the Salon. My Shakespeare is now completely cast, but
the pedestal, a tremendous affair, is not yet finished.
21 Feb. – Falguière, the great
sculptor, who I had asked to come & see the Shakespeare Monument,
most kindly did so this morning between 11 and 12. He said I need
have no fear that it will be placed in the Salon, and bade me send it
there. The only criticism he made was as to the consoles, which he
thinks too ‘pretty’ for the character of the monument. [follows
an illegible passage, obviously relating to Falguière’s visit]
23 Feb. – [Visits to the studio of
Christina Nilsson, Festetic, the Count de Grammont & others]
18 March – [Arriving in Paris] Met
Carr as I drove into the Hôtel Continental. I was much shocked by
hearing from him that poor Raoul Perrin, the American, had committed
suicide at the beginning of this week – poor fellow!
19 April – [England] A telegram
from Luca Madrassi which is rather incoherently written, but I gather
from it that the Shakespeare group is placed in the place of honour
in the Salon.
25 April – Varnishing day at the
Royal Academy. As they have accepted my statuette of Victor Hugo, I
went. Rather an amusing sight. Last touches, but on the whole I think
it a very fair exhibition. Old Herbert R.A. very affected but
eulogistic about V. Hugo, & he wants me to send Shakespeare there
28 April – Went to the Salon [The
account is not substantially different from that included in the
15 July – The Flamengs, Thibaudeau
and me at Paddington. Also Oscar (the poet) Wylde [sic] with
Bastien Lepage (a quiet, rather worn-out looking little man, with an
intelligent face) and we went to Cliveden [illegible passage]. The
heat was terrible, however, after lunch we managed to get down to the
river, where Oscar discursed amusingly on his passion for Sarah
28 July – To visit Millais, Watts,
Thornycroft and Boehm. Saw Watts’s unfinished Hugh Lupus and the
unfinished marble Artemis [Thornycroft].
27 Dec. [Letter] From Brucciani’s
men, saying that the monument (Shakespeare) is at length placed in
the Crystal Palace.
5 Jan. – Mr Hawley, a retired
actor is librarian of the buildings [presumably Shakespeare Memorial
Theatre, Stratford]. I left under his care a set of large French
photos of my monument, which have been much appreciated by all those
I have shown them at Stratford. [The day before, Gower had been
hoping to incorporate part of his monument in the Childs Fountain,
but on the 5th he is already thinking about placing it in
the garden which was being developed alongside the theatre at the
expense of Charles Flower]
3 March – A day or two ago I got
the answer from Mr Flower in ref. to my offer of the Shakespeare
Monument. He says he thinks it will do admirably in the new garden, &
that he wishes to show me the site when completed.
16 July – [To Stratford with J.
O’Connor to stay with the Flowers] I hope before12 months are over
my monument may be placed. Undoubtedly the by far the best place is
that immediately in front of the jutting out portion of the building
in which the theatre is placed & facing the church. There is a
natural platform of turf which will come in admirably to place the
monument upon. The red brick of the building too will form an
admirable background to the green colour of the bronze statues. Even
in small details, the position is happily chosen, for Hamlet (in
front of the monument) will face the church and burial ground, Prince
Hal the public road, Lady Macbeth the distant country and the river,
and Falstaff will complete, in swelling roundness of form, the
building which will face him.
16 Oct. – [Gower stays at Clopton
House, Stratford-upon-Avon, home of Sir Arthur Hodgson]
17 Oct. – [Inauguration of the
13 Nov. – [Paris] Later to see
Madrassi at the studio which we keep between us at 49 Boul.
Montparnasse. After a good deal of talk and after dining at Foyot’s,
near to the Luxembourg, it has been determined that the two figures
of Tragedy and Comedy which figure so conspicuously in the plaster
cast of the Shakespeare Monument are to be suppressed in the bronze,
and that Shakespeare’s bust is to be developed into a seated
figure, who will dominate in serene majesty the whole of the
14 Nov. – [Paris] I have come to
see how my Falstaff is progressing in bronze, and also to settle
about the upper portion of the Shakespeare Monument, which will be a
good deal modified and I hope improved.
16 Nov. – Left Paris.
8 Dec. – To Paris – To the
studio, I was here in order to get on as fast as possible with the
completion of the Shakespeare Monument [he describes again the new
project]. The advantage of this is that the poet’s effigy will be
the crowning portion of the monument, and not a mere accessory as in
the original design.
20 Dec. – These last few days I
have passed the greater part of in the studio [illegible] and
Shakespeare is making slow but sure progress. I think it will be a
success, and when finished and cast, a much more perfect monument
than the first creation.
28 Dec. - [Back to England]
4 Feb. - To Paris.
5 Feb. – W.S. is doing well.
10 Feb. – [Visit to Tissot] All
Wednesday, with Tissot to visit Eugène Lami.
16 Feb. – The last few days I have
been much occupied with my Shakespeare, and on my return here next
month I hope to see him in plaster, as the clay is now completed,
with the exception of a few technical details, and if all goes on
well, he is to appear in bronze in August or September next. Thus
will be completed a work that has taken, off and on, some ten years
and that has cost about £500 annually.
5 March –
[In Stratford, at Avonbank, discussing with Edgar Flower, Charles’s
brother, Charles himself being in Cannes for health reasons, the
material for the pedestal] It has been almost settled between E.
Flower and myself that this will be a light coloured yellow stone
found near here, which is easily worked, hard and inexpensive. The
local stonemason also met us at the Memorial Building, where the
drawings for the pedestal, made for me by [empty space] in Paris,
were placed on the library floor, and the whole subject thoroughly
gone into. The mason thinks it will cost from 3 to 400 pounds.
19 Oct. – With Madrassi to the
Place Malesherbes to see poor Doré’s statue of Dumas. I must
cordially confess that I prefer Shakespeare at Stratford to Dumas,
although it is a fine thing on the whole, but the pedestal is heavy.
No. of views:
Name: Extracts from the Diaries of Lord Ronald Gower Author: Philip Ward-Jackson Dated: 2017 Type: Unassigned