Cardiff City Hall Statuary Competition, 1912-14
Start Date: November 1912 (Circa)
End Date: 1914 (Circa)
Competition Details: In November 1912 after consultation with William Goscombe John, D. A. Thomas (later Lord Rhondda) offered to bear the cost of commissioning ten marble sculptures to fill the empty niches and pedestals in the staircase hall of Cardiff City Hall.
D. A. Thomas and the Cardiff Committee then asked for advice from the Royal Society of British Sculptors about the selection of sculptors. The RBS recommended its members for the competition and that the sums of money offered for the commission should be increased.
On 7 July 1913, the President, George Frampton, announced they had appointed James Havard Thomas to assist and advise on this matter. The Cardiff Committee then decided against holding a competition because they were concerned that the most eminent sculptors might refuse to enter and asked Havard Thomas to make the selection instead.
In a report to the RBS, Havard Thomas stated Frampton, Goscombe John and himself had been given three of the commissions leaving seven sculptors still to be chosen. At a meeting held in December 1913, the majority of RBS members approved Havard Thomas's actions but Frank Lynn Jenkins, Francis Derwent Wood, Paul Montford and Albert Hodge criticised his acceptance of the new approach without consultation of the membership. They resigned from the Council and of the remaining eight members, five were recipients of commissions for the Cardiff City hall statuary.
At an Extraordinary Meeting of the RBS on 16 January 1914 called by the critical element of the membership, a vote of censure was passed against the Council and their support of Havard Thomas. This was followed by a further meeting on 27 February 1914 at which Goscombe John spoke in strong support of the Council and Havard Thomas's actions. Thomas Brock attempted to mediate, however Havard Thomas took exception to his tone and the meeting became stormy, even uproarious according to accounts in the press. For example, Montford walked out having made a very strong attack on the President and Council.
After the meeting, George Frampton, Frederick William Pomeroy, James Havard Thomas and William Goscombe John resigned. Frampton and several of his colleagues severed connections with the RBS until 1926 when it transpired that he had been acting on the direct request of the patron, Lord Rhondda. The vote of censure was then expunged.
Organizing Institution or Venue
Participants included Royal Society of British Sculptors
1912 - 1914
The society's involvement proved problematic after the terms of the competition and selection process were changed by the organising committee. Ultimately the internal dissension in the RBS over these commissions led to the resignation of several prominent sculptors and caused a breach in good relations lasting until 1926 (see details in Cardiff City Hall Statuary Competition and resignation relationships)
Selection committee members included James Havard Thomas
1913 - 1914 (Circa)
Adviser and assessor to the Cardiff Committee organising the competition on behalf of the Royal Society of British Sculptors
Goscombe John at the National Museum of Wales
Royal Society of British Sculptors. Minutes of Council Meetings No. 2, 1913-1922
16 June 1913
Citing this record
'Cardiff City Hall Statuary Competition, 1912-14', Mapping the Practice and Profession of Sculpture in Britain and Ireland 1851-1951, University of Glasgow History of Art and HATII, online database 2011 [https://sculpture.gla.ac.uk/view/event.php?id=msib4_1274440786, accessed 02 Mar 2024]