Sculpture Classes (School of Sculpture, Royal College of Art), 1897-1952
Start Date: 1897
End Date: 1952 (Circa)
Type: Art school class
Description: The School of Sculpture was one of five main schools within the Royal College of Art from c. 1926 (the first available prospectus) until 1948 (when the College's structure changed). Its course included instruction in the following main areas of study (taken from the Prospectus, 1926-1927, p. 21):
'Modelling of architectural ornament.
Figure and ornamental composition.
The study of Osteology and Myology.
Modelled studies of drapery.
Studies in the round and in relief of the head and figure from life.
Drawing from life.
Stone carving and pointing
From 1930-1931 onwards the prospectuses also list 'modelling for pottery and metalwork'(see p. 20). From 1933-1934 onwards these classes are described as being 'linked with the School of Design', and demonstrations in casting and technical processes are also listed (see Prospectus, 1933-1934, p. 20).
A Post Diploma Course was offered in which students would 'work out special subjects and will be afforded opportunities for executing special work under the direction of the Professor'.
The description of the sculpture course remained largely unchanged in the College's prospectuses until 1948 when the College's structure changed. At this time the number of Schools in the College increased from five to ten. Ceramics, silversmithing and jewellery design (which also included stained glass) and sculpture were three separate Schools.
The College was also divided into faculties: sculpture came under the Faculty of Fine Arts, ceramics under the Faculty of Indistrial Arts; silversmithing and jewellery came under both the Faculty of Industrial Arts and the Faculty of Fashion, and architecture came under both Fine Arts and Industrial Arts.
The 1949-1950 prospectus provided a new description of the content of the sculpture course which included 'stone carving, wood carving, life modelling, composition, the relation of sculpture to architecture, life drawing, animal study and plaster moulding (gelatine piece and waste moulding)'. It also stated that the School hoped to add bronze casting and the use of concrete and other materials to the programme. This was achieved in 1951-1952 when the prospectus records that 'some concrete casting has been undertaken and also the preliminary processes of bronze casting'.
Policy: The modelling class is described in an 1897 'Report on the Royal College of Art'. The report notes that the modelling classes 'have become exceedingly popular, and the number of pupils is so augmented that their operations are more widely spread than the space allocated to them can accommodate: so students of modelling crowd the corridors and are found working far away from their proper class-rooms, and even the Antique room has not escaped invasion. This serious state of things demands remedy'.
E. Lanteri reported that 'ability among the students from the executive point of view is very slight, especially among the men; but that among the lady students there is a great deal of original conception and considerable delicacy of modelling power in metal designs'.
He continues to describe how many female students in the modelling school were going to join the City Guild School for metal work instruction (which the R.C.A. did not currently provide), and that there was currently 'no class-room for stone and marble carving', which 'should be chief subjects in such a School'. There was also no wood-carving class.
The College's first available prospectus from 1926-1927(in the Royal College of Art Archives) describes the aims of the School of Sculpture as follows: 'to promote the study of the Plastic Arts in Ornamental Design, Architecture, and the Industrial Arts and Handicrafts, based upon the study of the human figure'. This description remained largely unchanged until 1948.
In the 1949-1950 prospectus a new description of the course is provided. It states that 'the students of the Sculpture School study in the manner of apprenticed pupils, working with contemporary professional sculptors whose studios form part of the School. The understanding of aesthetics is taught by the study of the universal tradition of sculpture rather than that of the Mediterranean basin alone'.
Organizing Institution or Venue
Organized by Royal College of Art (including National Art Training School)
1926 (Circa) - 1952 (Circa)
Report on the Royal College of Art, 1897
19 November 1897
Citing this record
'Sculpture Classes (School of Sculpture, Royal College of Art), 1897-1952', Mapping the Practice and Profession of Sculpture in Britain and Ireland 1851-1951, University of Glasgow History of Art and HATII, online database 2011 [http://sculpture.gla.ac.uk/view/event.php?id=msib4_1245943594, accessed 08 Dec 2016]