‘King Edward as a Country Gentleman’, F.W. Doyle, 1910
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Silver. The King portrayed in tweed shooting suit and Homburg hat. Signed and dated ‘F.W. Doyle Jones Sc 1910’ on naturalistic base. Maker’s mark of S.G. for Sebastian Henry Garrard (1868-1946) of Garrard & Co. Ltd., Haymarket, London. Hallmarked London 1911. Mounted on a stepped silver base and inscribed to the front ‘Purchased at the / Red Cross Sale / April 14th 1915 / Presented by / Lady Cowdray’. Maker’s mark to base of William Comyns, of Beak Street, Soho. Hallmarked London 1914.
The inscription on the base of the present figure connects it to the first of series sales held by Christies each year between 1915 and 1918, which raised more than £320,000 (nearly £14 million today) for Red Cross war work. Indeed these sales are considered to be among the five most important conducted by Christies in its 250 year history. The present figure was among lots donated by the good and the great of the day who included numerous aristocrats, Sir Edward Elgar, John Singer Sargent, Edmund Gosse and Max Beerbohm.
Lady Cowdray was wife of the industrialist and Liberal politician Weetman Pearson, 1st Viscount Cowdray. Lady Cowdray’s youngest son, the Hon. Francis Geoffrey Pearson (b.1891) was captured while serving as a motorcycle courier with the British Expeditionary Force during the German advance on Paris in September 1914. Reports surfaced later that he had been treated with brutality by his German captors, directly causing his death. Great indignation was raised by these reports, one of many that were flooding out of Northern France at the time. The incident was referenced by Arthur Conan Doyle in his 1914 book ‘The German War’ (Chapter VI, 'A Policy of Murder').
The guise of a country gentleman was one in which the Edward VII endeared himself to many at all levels of society who shared his sporting interests. In 1910 The Times reported ‘They liked to see him taking his pleasure with a zest greater than their own. As sportsmen themselves they were pleased to have a Sovereign who had won three Derbys ... They liked to have a King who ... looked after his estates and his tenants, bred and exhibited prize cattle, and shot his pheasants like other country gentlemen.’
Francis William Doyle (1873-1938) was the son of a monumental stonemason of West Hartlepool and Middlesbrough, and began his working life in his father’s firm. He studied in Paris and in London at the National Art Training School during the 1890s. He operated a studio in Chelsea and worked principally as a portrait sculptor. His output was diverse and included political, literary and sporting figures (Charles Dickens, Major Willie Redmond M.P., Michael Collins and Chanel swimmers Captain Webb and T.W. Burgess, among them). The plaster model for ‘King Edward as a Country Gentleman’ was exhibited at 1910 Exhibition of Works by Artists of the Northern Counties, and was formally approved by Queen Alexandra. Jones also made a large number of war memorials. These include Boer War memorials at Middlesbrough (1904), West Hartlepool (1905), Llanelli (1905), Gateshead (1905) and Penrith (1906). After the First World War he made further memorials at Gravesend, Kent and Sutton Coldfield. In 1909 he exhibited at the Royal Academy a relief in oxidised silver titled White Horses that was based on a poem by Rudyard Kipling. Doyle Jones was an Associate of the Royal Society of British Sculptors.