Robert Clatworthy (sculptor)

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Robert Clatworthy
Robert Clatworthy by James Hunkin, grayscale, cropped.jpg
Robert Clatworthy photographed by James Hunkin in 2001
Robert Ernest Clatworthy

31 January 1928
Bridgwater, Somerset
Died15 or 16 March 2015
Known forsculpture, painting
Elected RA, 26 April 1973

Robert Ernest Clatworthy RA (31 January 1928 – 15 or 16 March 2015) was a British sculptor and teacher of art. He was head of the fine art department at the Central School of Art and Design in London from 1971 to 1975, and was elected a fellow of the Royal Academy of Arts in 1973.

Central School of Art and Design former art college in London

The Central School of Art and Design was a public school of fine and applied arts in London, England. It offered foundation and degree level courses. It was established in 1896 by the London County Council as the Central School of Arts and Crafts. Central became part of the London Institute in 1986, and in 1989 merged with Saint Martin's School of Art to form Central Saint Martins College of Arts and Design.

Royal Academy of Arts art institution in London, England

The Royal Academy of Arts (RA) is an art institution based in Burlington House on Piccadilly in London. It has a unique position as an independent, privately funded institution led by eminent artists and architects. Its purpose is to promote the creation, enjoyment and appreciation of the visual arts through exhibitions, education and debate.



Clatworthy's Bull in the Alton Estate council housing estate in Roehampton, in south-west London Bull (Robert Clatworthy sculpture) 04.JPG
Clatworthy's Bull in the Alton Estate council housing estate in Roehampton, in south-west London

Clatworthy was born at Bridgwater, Somerset, on 31 January 1928, to Ernest Clatworthy, a railway clerk, and Gladys, née Jugaler; he went to Dr. Morgan's Grammar School in Bridgewater. [1] He studied the violin as a boy and was uncertain whether to become an artist or a musician. [2] :92 In 1945–46 he studied at the West of England College of Art, and then did National Service. From 1947 to 1949 he was at the Chelsea School of Art in London, where he studied under Bernard Meadows, and then in 1950–51 went to the Slade School of Fine Art. [3] [1] He worked briefly as an assistant to Henry Moore; [4] it was Moore who persuaded him to attend the Slade rather than the Royal College of Art. [1]

Bridgwater Market town in Somerset, England

Bridgwater is a large historic market town and civil parish in Somerset, England. Its population currently stands at around 35,886 as of 2011. Bridgwater is at the edge of the Somerset Levels, in level and well-wooded country. The town lies along both sides of the River Parrett, and has been a major in-land port and trading centre since the industrial revolution. Most of its industrial bases still stand today. Its larger neighbour Taunton, is linked to Bridgwater via a canal, the M5 motorway and the GWR railway line.

Conscription in the United Kingdom has existed for two periods in modern times. The first was from 1916 to 1920, the second from 1939 to 1960, with the last conscripted soldiers leaving the service in 1963. Known as Military Service from 1916 to 1920, the system of conscription from 1939 to 1960 was called National Service, but between 1939 and 1948, it was often referred to as "war service" in documents relating to National Insurance and pension provision.

Bernard Meadows British artist

Bernard Meadows was a British modernist sculptor. Meadows was Henry Moore's first assistant; then part of the Geometry of Fear school, a loose-knit group of British sculptors whose prominence was established at the 1952 Venice Biennale; a Professor of Sculpture at the Royal College of Art for 20 years; and returned to assist Moore again in his last years.

In the early 1950s Clatworthy was, with Anthony Caro, Elizabeth Frink and Eduardo Paolozzi, among the young sculptors brought in by Frank Martin to teach in the new sculpture department at Saint Martin's School of Art. [5] In 1956 he joined The London Group. [6] From 1960 until 1972 he taught at the Royal College of Art and, between 1967 and 1971, also at the West of England College of Art. He was a governor of Saint Martin's from 1970 to 1971, and then, until 1975, head of the fine art department at Central. [3]

Anthony Caro English abstract sculptor

Sir Anthony Alfred Caro was an English abstract sculptor whose work is characterised by assemblages of metal using 'found' industrial objects. His style was of the modernist school, having worked with Henry Moore early in his career. He was lauded as the greatest British sculptor of his generation.

Eduardo Paolozzi British artist

SirEduardo Luigi Paolozzi was a Scottish sculptor and artist. He is widely considered to be one of the pioneers of pop art.

Frank Martin was a British sculptor. He was head of the sculpture department of Saint Martin's School of Art from 1952 to 1979. He brought young and forward-thinking sculptors into the department to teach, among them Anthony Caro, Robert Clatworthy, Elizabeth Frink and Eduardo Paolozzi. They and those round them came to be known as the New Generation of British sculptors. In the 1960s and 1970s the sculpture department at Saint Martin's was, in the words of Tim Scott: "the most famous in the art world".

He was elected a Royal Academician on 26 April 1973. [3]

Clatworthy was married twice: in 1954 to Pamela Gordon, the daughter of Gertrude Lawrence, [1] with whom he had two sons and a daughter, and from whom he was divorced; and in 1989 to Jane Illingworth Stubbs. [7] After the break-up of his first marriage in the 1970s he moved with his new wife to an isolated farmhouse at Cynghordy, near Llandovery, in southern Wales, where he spent his later life as a recluse. [2] :92 [7] :330 He died on 15 [4] [8] or 16 March 2015. [1] [9]

Gertrude Lawrence English actress, singer, dancer and musical comedy performer

Gertrude Lawrence was an English actress, singer, dancer and musical comedy performer known for her stage appearances in the West End of London and on Broadway in New York.

Cynghordy village in United Kingdom

Cynghordy is a village in the rural community of Llanfair-ar-y-bryn in Carmarthenshire, Wales. It lies on the A483 road northeast of the town of Llandovery, and is served by Cynghordy railway station on the Heart of Wales Line.

Llandovery Market town and community in Carmarthenshire, Wales

Llandovery is a market town and community in Carmarthenshire, Wales. It lies on the River Tywi and the junction of the A40 and A483 roads, around 25 miles (40 km) northeast of Carmarthen and 27 miles (43 km) north of Swansea.


Clatworthy is considered one of the informal Geometry of Fear group of sculptors, [2] :92 so named by Herbert Read in 1952. Many of Clatworthy's sculptures are bronzes of animals, often with heavily-textured surfaces. [2] :92 His first solo show was at the Hanover Gallery in 1954, [4] and in 1959 his work was shown there with that of Arp, César, Giacometti, Matisse and Picasso. [8] [10]

The Geometry of Fear was an informal group or school of young British sculptors in the years after the Second World War. The term was coined by Herbert Read in 1952 in his description of the work of the eight British artists represented in the "New Aspects of British Sculpture" exhibition at the Biennale di Venezia of 1952.

Herbert Read English anarchist, poet, and critic of literature and art

Sir Herbert Edward Read, was an English art historian, poet, literary critic and philosopher, best known for numerous books on art, which included influential volumes on the role of art in education. Read was co-founder of the Institute of Contemporary Arts. As well as being a prominent English anarchist, he was one of the earliest English writers to take notice of existentialism.

Bronze metal alloy

Bronze is an alloy consisting primarily of copper, commonly with about 12–12.5% tin and often with the addition of other metals and sometimes non-metals or metalloids such as arsenic, phosphorus or silicon. These additions produce a range of alloys that may be harder than copper alone, or have other useful properties, such as stiffness, ductility, or machinability.

His work is in the collections of the Tate Gallery, the Victoria and Albert Museum and the Arts Council of Great Britain. [3] His portrait bust of Elizabeth Frink (1983) was bought by the National Portrait Gallery in 1984. [11]

Two of his works are installed as public art: a Bull commissioned by the London County Council in 1956–57 is now in the Alton Estate council housing estate in Roehampton, in south-west London; and Horseman and Eagle, commissioned in 1984–85 for a new office block at 1 Finsbury Avenue in the City, is now in the grounds of Charing Cross Hospital in Hammersmith. [4]

In about 1990 Clatworthy developed a skin infection which prevented him from working in plaster, and turned to painting, [12] mostly figures and portraits of unidentified people. [2] :92 He returned to sculpture in 2002. [12]


In the 1950s Clatworthy was among the best-known sculptors in Britain. The critic David Sylvester thought his work the best by any sculptor younger than Moore; Clatworthy and his LCC Bull appeared on the front page of the Sunday Times in 1957; the Tate Gallery bought the first of two of his bull sculptures in the same year. His reputation later faded. [4]

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  1. 1 2 3 4 5 Christopher Masters (30 March 2015). Robert Clatworthy obituary. The Guardian. Retrieved June 2015.
  2. 1 2 3 4 5 George Newson (2015). In memoriam: Robert Clatworthy RA. RA Magazine (127), Summer 2015.
  3. 1 2 3 4 Robert Clatworthy RA: Profile. The Royal Academy. Retrieved June 2014.
  4. 1 2 3 4 5 [s.n.] (20 March 2015). Robert Clatworthy, sculptor – obituary. The Telegraph. Retrieved March 2015.
  5. Malcolm Le Grice (2011). History Lessons. frieze Issue 142, October 2011. Retrieved June 2014.
  6. [s.n.] (2011). Clatworthy, Robert. Benezit Dictionary of Artists. doi:10.1093/benz/9780199773787.article.B00038942. (subscription required).
  7. 1 2 Elizabeth Sleeman (ed.) (2003). The International Who's Who 2004. London: Europa Publications. ISBN   9781857432176.
  8. 1 2 Peter Davies (28 May 2015). Robert Clatworthy: Sculptor whose powerful pieces, including Grade II-listed 'Bull', walked the line between figuration and abstraction. The Independent. Retrieved June 2015.
  9. Clatworthy, Robert Ernest. Who Was Who. London: A & C Black; online edition: Oxford University Press. Retrieved April 2017. (subscription required)
  10. [s.n.] (1959). Sculpture: Arp, Butler, César, Clatworthy, Effront, Giacometti, Kemeny, Maillol, Marini, Matisse, Picasso, Sager (exhibition catalogue). London: Hanover Gallery.
  11. Elisabeth Frink: 1 portrait by Robert Clatworthy. National Portrait Gallery. Retrieved March 2015.
  12. 1 2 Will Bennett (27 January 2003). Object of the week: Robert Clatworthy's Head. The Telegraph. Retrieved June 2014.

Further reading