Bust of Lord Grey, 9th Governor General of Canada, 1915
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Height overall including ebonised base: 74cm (29in)
Patinated bronze. Head and shoulders bust of Albert, 4th Earl Grey wearing Governor General’s full dress court uniform, Jubilee and Coronation medals of Queen Victoria, Edward VII and George V, the breast star of a Knight Grand Cross Order of St. Michael and St George. Height of bronze: 63cm (24.75in). Signed verso ‘Frank Lascelles of Sibford Gower Sc 1919’
The present bust was commissioned to commemorate Lord Grey’s presidency of the Royal Colonial Institute (1915-17), now renamed and reinvented as an N.G.O. specialising in conflict resolution in Commonwealth countries. The bust was created by sculptor Frank Lascelles, best known as the ‘imperial pageant master’ responsible for mass participation events staged in Britain and overseas in the early twentieth century. In Canada in 1908 Lascelles brought to life Lord Grey’s vision of an imperial celebration to mark the Tercentenary of the founding of Quebec and the 150th anniversary of the death of General Wolfe. It was the culmination of Grey’s campaign, begun the previous year, to purchase the Plains of Abraham and turn them into a national park. The pageant’s historical scenes aimed to balance the different periods of French and British rule. They were directed by Lascelles, who organised some 4,000 local performers including Iroquois, who afterwards made him a chief and gave him the apt name of Tehonikonraka ('man of infinite resources').
‘Bertie’ Grey, 4th Earl Grey (1851-1917) was the grandson of British prime minister 2nd Earl Grey and son of General Grey, private secretary to Prince Albert and Queen Victoria. He accompanied Albert Edward, Prince of Wales, on his tour of India in 1877 until struck down by sun stroke which apparently cost him his hair. As a Liberal M.P. in the 1880s he was an early and vocal supporter of votes for women. He was active in imperial business ventures and as a friend of Cecil Rhodes became a Director of the British South Africa Company. In the aftermath of the Jameson Raid (1895-96) he was a key figure in the administration of Southern Rhodesia. Having suffered financial losses in Africa, he was fortunate to be appointed Governor General of Canada in 1904 by Edward VII with whom he was on good terms.
During Grey’s term of viceregal office he encouraged several projects that aided national unity. He granted Royal Assent to the Acts of Parliament by which Alberta and Saskatchewan were given provincial status. He was a prime supporter in the creation of the Royal Canadian Navy, a patron of cultural and sporting events, being the donor of the C.F.L.’s Grey Cup, and Chief Scout of Canada. Lascelles’s pageant of 1908 was generally regarded as a coup for Franco-Anglo-American friendship. Another of Grey's suggestions was a railway hotel for the federal capital, which eventuated in the Château Laurier, completed in 1912. On Grey’s return to Britain he became Chancellor of the Order of St Michael and St George.
Grey in the governor general's office at Rideau Hall, Ottawa, note the bronze figure of Charles George
Frank William Thomas Charles Christian Culpeper Lascelles (1875-1934) first came to the fore as a budding thespian with Oxford University’s Dramatic Society and afterwards with Sir Herbert Beerbohm Tree’s company at His Majesty’s Theatre in London. Influenced by Tree’s use of pageant-like scenes in his Shakespearean productions, Lascelles staged his first historical pageant in Oxford in 1907. Despite initial reservations by the University authorities and a student riot, it was highly successful and led to the organisation of many such events over the next twenty-five years, including a celebration to mark the inaugural Opening of Parliament in South Africa (1909), the Coronation Durbar in Calcutta (1912) involving some 300,000 participants and an imperial pageant at the British Empire Exhibition at Wembley (1924). As a sculptor Lascelles’ output included portrait busts of Edward, Prince of Wales, the Duke of Connaught and the Aga Khan III. He further sculpted a memorial to his mother in the church at Sibford Gower where he built himself a manor house. Lascelles was unmarried and entertained lavishly. His end, however, was pitiful, dying in poverty and sickness in a Brighton boarding-house, having given away more than he could afford. He asked the artist Frank Brangwyn to administer his estate and fund a 'school of nations' for children from all over the world to promote world peace and understanding, but his wealth was wholly inadequate.