A set of three 19th Century relief-carved marble panels from the Bodley Reredos After the design by George Frederick Bodley RA, by Farmer & Brindley, London
Lot 216
A set of three 19th Century relief-carved marble panels from the Bodley Reredos After the design by George Frederick Bodley RA, by Farmer & Brindley, London
Sold for £20,000 (US$ 33,679) inc. premium
Auction Details
A set of three 19th Century relief-carved marble panels from the Bodley Reredos After the design by George Frederick Bodley RA, by Farmer & Brindley, London A set of three 19th Century relief-carved marble panels from the Bodley Reredos After the design by George Frederick Bodley RA, by Farmer & Brindley, London A set of three 19th Century relief-carved marble panels from the Bodley Reredos After the design by George Frederick Bodley RA, by Farmer & Brindley, London
Lot Details
A set of three 19th Century relief-carved marble panels from the Bodley Reredos
After the design by George Frederick Bodley RA, by Farmer & Brindley, London
Of rectangular form, each carved with a single putto head with a small pair of wings above and a larger pair of wings to either side, above a ribbon-tied garland of fruit and flowers, each, 41cm wide, 14cm deep, 152cm high (16" wide, 5.5" deep, 59.5" high). (3)

Footnotes

  • Provenance: St Paul's Cathedral, London.

    When George Frederick Bodley RA (1827 – 1907) was invited to submit designs for a new altar and surrounds for St Paul's Cathedral in 1883, the process of the re-design of the interior of the Cathedral was already well underway. While every stage of the process was subject to scrutiny and debate, the appearance of the altar had been a contentious issue since the Cathedral's creation. Sir Christopher Wren refraining from his personal preference for an elaborate marble altarpiece with "the richest Greek marbles" for fear of antagonising further the anti-Papists who had already deemed Wren's Cathedral too similar to St Peter's Basilica. Bodley's ornate Italian style, visible in his previously completed reredos in the chapel at Temple Newsam in West Yorkshire, won over the committee leading the decoration plans and erection began in August 1886.

    The architectural engineers Farmer & Brindley of Westminster Bridge Road carried out the construction, with the marbles carved by their sculptors including the important French sculptor Émile Guillemin (1841-1907). Following the completion of the work, Bodley's comparatively unheralded partner Thomas Garner described the altarscreen as maybe "the most important work of the kind ever erected in England in the Italian style". While the reredos would have appealed to Wren's desires for the altarpiece, his concerns were upheld as a group of Protestant churchmen launched a case against the Dean and Chapter of St Paul's Cathedral for erecting a superstitious symbol. While this campaign to have the altarpiece removed was unsuccessful at the time, the works were eventually dismantled in the 1970s where the panels offered in this lot were obtained by the current vendor. When export licenses were granted for many of the remaining marbles in 1996, The Times referred to the works as "part of one of the most important decorative schemes of the 19th Century... This is a unique collection and it would be tragic if it went abroad". After being on display in the United States for nine years these pieces were sold at Bonhams, New York November 29th 2005. Bodley and Garner's reredos, divisive in the opinions of contemporaries, is equally as controversial in the present time, though now in recognition of its place in the history of English ecclesiastical design.

    Related Literature:
    Transactions of the St Paul's Parentalia: Memoirs of the family of the Wrens, Christopher Wren, London 1750
    The Times, 22 April 1996, p.5
    Francis Cranmer Penrose – A Memoir by JD Crace – Extract from the Journal of the RIBA, 3rd Series, Vol X, No.13
    Report on some Suggested Decorative Improvements at St Paul's Cathedral [1885], G. F. Bodley and T. Garner
    The Antiquaries Journal, William Burges and the Completion of St Paul's, J Mordant Crook
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