Portrait Bust of Prime Minister Winston Churchill, 1943
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15.5cm (6in) x 7.5cm (3in) x 8cm (3.25in)
Bronzed plaster. Signed ‘Barbara / Tribe’ to the reverse. Raised on an integral base and wooden plinth.
Barbara Tribe, F.R.S.B.S., (1913-2000) was an Australian trained sculptor who moved to England to pursue her professional career in the 1930s. During the Second World War she joined the Office of Works and was employed in the Inspectorate of Ancient Monuments. In 1943 her team was tasked with recording the interiors of 10 Downing Street in case of further damage or destruction by enemy bombing. When cataloguing in the Prime Minister’s office, Churchill returned unexpectedly, and furious at their presence, ‘rudely ejected’ the inspection team. Tribe marked the encounter by sculpting a small plaster portrait from memory in her London studio.
Throughout the war Tribe had continued to work as a professional sculptor, completing in 1943 a series of portrait busts of Australian aircrew based in the United Kingdom. Several of these plaster works were cast into bronze in the 1960s for the Australian National War Memorial, Canberra.
Tribe offered her original plaster bust of Churchill to Clementine Churchill’s Red Cross Aid to Russia Fund and the gift was accepted. In company with J. Seymour Lindsay, a colleague from the Inspectorate and a noted authority on English domestic metalwork, she delivered it in person to the to Chequers in Buckinghamshire. Tribe produced a small number of similar busts during her working life of which the present example is one. Another example of this model is illustrated in Patricia R. Macdonald’s ‘Barbara Tribe, Sculptor’, published in 2000 by Craftsman House, in association with G&B Arts International, Sydney, Australia.