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The Mond Bequest at King's College London: A Celebration

King's College entrance hall

Entrance of King's in early 1920sEntrance of King's in early 1920s As is detailed in Mr Davies’s letter to Principal Barker (albeit incompletely and with some errors), both of the two statues presented to King’s from Mrs Mond’s estate that were placed in the main entrance hall to King's College are the work of German-speaking sculptors active in Rome in the second half of the nineteenth century.

King's SapphoKing's SapphoThe Sappho, by Ferdinand Seeboeck, bears the artist’s signature, and the date of execution (1893) as well as explicit notice of the place; there is supplementary evidence from another contemporary source that it was directly commissioned by the Monds.

The Sophocles, by Constantin Dausch, is unsigned and undated, but from the known details of the sculptor’s career must also have been carved in Rome, and may have been executed at approximately the same time.

Entrance of King's with SophoclesEntrance of King's with SophoclesIn any case, the close similarity in dimensions and pose – note particularly the symmetrical positioning of Sophocles’ left foot and Sappho’s right – makes it almost certain that they were designed from the start as a pair, with Dausch’s Sophocles providing the point of reference for Seeboeck’s Sappho rather than the other way round.

The Sappho at least was shipped to London almost straight away, as it was exhibited at the Royal Academy in the annualshow in the summer of 1894.

By the time of Frida's death in 1923 it could be said that both statues had stood together in the front hall of The Poplars, Avenue Road,for many years.

This makes it likely that the Sophocles came to London at the same time, in late 1893 or early 1894, and that they were in place in St John's Wood by the end of the latter year.

References:

  • King's College London Archives KAS/AC2/F191
  • The Academy, 9 June 1894, p. 482
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