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The Empire Sculptor - St Paul's loans work to major new exhibition

A bust depicting a former Surveyor to the Fabric of St Paul's is being given on loan to a major new exhibition featuring the work of an artist known as The Empire Sculptor and Rodin's Friend.

Running from Thursday 21 March to Sunday 8 September at Reading Museum, John Tweed: The Empire Sculptor, Rodin's Friend, is a retrospective of the work of Tweed, a leading Victorian and Edwardian sculptor whose work can be seen across Britain and the world. 

During his lifetime John Tweed was hailed as The Empire Sculptor because of the many commissions he won for major public works in Africa, Canada and India. Born in Glasgow in 1869, he studied at Glasgow School of Art, and went on to specialise in monuments and portraits.

In 1902 he introduced Rodin to England and did much to make the awkward sculptor feel at ease in London society.

The influence of Rodin’s work can be seen in the bust being loaned to the exhibition by St Paul's. It was not a monument but a gift to the subject, Somers Clarke (1841-1926), architect and Egyptologist who was Surveyor to the Fabric of St Paul’s (1897-1906). 

Tweed’s association with the Cathedral commenced in 1903 when he began work on the statue of the Duke Of Wellington's battle horse, Copenhagen, which tops off the monument to the Duke, in the Cathedral's nave. He went on to design two individual monuments at St Paul's - the first for Admiral Charles De La Poer Beresford in the crypt and a second for Field Marshal Frederick Roberts, on the Cathedral floor.

His work as Surveyor can still be admired in the ironwork balustrade around the Cathedral Triforium level, the electroliers which provide light to areas of the cathedral floor and the altar table in the Chapel of Saints Michael and George. As an archaeologist, Somers Clarke worked at a number of sites throughout Egypt, notably at El Kab, where he settled semi-permanently in 1906, building himself a mud-brick home with 27 domes.

John Tweed: The Empire Sculptor, Rodin's Friend
21 March - 8 September 2013
Sir John Madejski Art Gallery, Reading Museum, Blagrave Street, RG1 1QH
Museum website