'Bobs' - Field Marshal Lord Roberts, 1902
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Height: 22.5cm (8.75in)
Nickel plated bronze. Standing figure of General Frederick Sleigh Roberts. Signed on the integral base ‘Sydney March / Elkington & Co., London’ and titled ‘Pretoria 1900’.
Roberts arrived in South Africa in late December 1899 to take command of British forces after a series of reverses. After relieving Kimberly, he achieved a stunning victory at the Battle of Paardeberg on 27 February 1900 when the Boer General Piet Cronje surrendered with some 4,000 men. Roberts went on to defeat the remaining organised Boer forces at the Battle of Poplar Grove, and capture the Free State capital Bloemfontein on 13 March. After major logistical problems and the onset of enteric, he resumed his offensive towards the Transvaal, capturing its capital Pretoria on 31 May. Having defeated the Boers at Diamond Hill and linked up with Buller, he won the last victory of his career at Bergendal on 27 August. He was succeeded on 12 December 1900 by Lord Kitchener and returned to England to receive further honours. He was made a Knight of the Garter and also created Earl of Kandahar in Afghanistan and Pretoria in the Transvaal Colony and of the City of Waterford and Viscount St Pierre.
Sydney March (1876–1968) was the second of nine children, eight of whom became artists. Three of the March family became sculptors, Sydney, Elsie (1884-1974), and Vernon. The other five artists were Edward (1873-1941), Percival (b.1878), Frederick (b.1881), Dudley (1881-1962), and Walter (b.1889). The ninth sibling was a sister, Eva. Originally from Yorkshire the March family moved to London around the turn of the century when Sydney enrolled at the Royal Academy Schools and where he was awarded the first prize medal for a model of a statue or group. Between 1906 and 1932, he exhibited thirteen times at the R.A., primarily portrait busts, statuettes, and equestrian statues. The March family established their own sculpture studio at Goddendene, Kent, in 1901. Sydney also worked with the art founders Elkington, and was responsible for royal portraits, including Queen Victoria, Queen Alexandra and George V, as well as his series of British Boer War commanders, Roberts, Kitchener, Buller, French, Bade-Powell and Byng.