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Albert Toft
Born (1862-06-03)3 June 1862
Died 18 December 1949(1949-12-18) (aged 87)
Worthing, Sussex, England
Nationality English
Alma mater South Kensington Schools
Occupation sculptor

Albert Toft (3 June 1862 – 18 December 1949) was an English sculptor.

Toft's career was dominated by public commemorative commissions in bronze, mostly single statues of military or royal figures. The Diamond Jubilee of Queen Victoria in 1897, Boer War to 1902, and then World War I to 1918, provided plentiful commissions. The Oxford Dictionary of National Biography describes Toft as one of the major figures of the "New Sculpture" following on from William Hamo Thornycroft and George Frampton. Toft described his work as 'Idealist' but he also said of himself that "to become an idealist you must necessarily first be a realist."

His father was a notable modeller in ceramics, and his brother was the landscape artist Joseph Alfonso Toft.

Biography

Toft was born in Handsworth, then in Staffordshire, and now a suburb of Birmingham. His parents were Charles Toft (1832–1909) and Rosanna Reeves. His father was a senior modeller at Mintons, and then the chief modeller at Wedgwood pottery. He had also taught modelling at Birmingham School of Art for some years to 1873.

Nottingham Memorial Park Victoria 0392
Pedestal relief below Queen Victoria, Nottingham Memorial Park

Toft trained at Wedgwood, and attended art schools in Hanley, Staffordshire and Newcastle upon Tyne. In 1881 he won a scholarship to study sculpture at the South Kensington Schools under Professor Édouard Lantéri. He received silver medals in his second and third years.

From 1885 onwards Toft exhibited at the Royal Academy and some of his most notable works exhibited at the Royal Academy included Fate-Led (1890, now at Walker Art Gallery), The Sere and Yellow Leaf (1892), Spring (1897, now at Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery), The Spirit of Contemplation (1901; Laing Art Gallery, Newcastle) and The Metal Pourer (1915). In 1915 his sculpture The Bather was purchased using the Royal Academy's Chantrey Fund. His 1888 bust of William Ewart Gladstone for the National Liberal Club was modelled from life and acclaimed as one of the best. In 1900 Toft received a bronze medal at the Universal Exhibition in Paris.

He created monuments to Queen Victoria for Leamington Spa, Nottingham, and South Shields, and to Edward VII in Birmingham and Warwick. He designed the coronation medal of George V and Queen Mary (1911) and a statuette of W. S. Penley playing Charley's Aunt for Royal Doulton (1913). He also published a book, Modelling and Sculpture in 1911, which was reprinted in 1949.

He made a series of war memorials, starting with the South African War Memorial in Cardiff (1910), and then many after the First World War, including the Royal Fusiliers War Memorial in London (1922), and four statues for the Birmingham Hall of Memory (1923–24).

In 1891 Toft was elected to the Art Workers Guild and in 1938 he was elected a fellow to the Royal Society of British Sculptors.

He died in Worthing.

Public monuments and memorials

Image Title / subject Location and
coordinates
Date Type Material Dimensions Designation Wikidata Notes
Major Jonathen White Nottingham Castle 1891 Bust on pedestal Bronze and granite Major White (1804–1889) served in the Robin Hood Rifles.
Statue of Henry Richard, Tregaron, Ceredigion - geograph.org.uk - 1435990.jpg Henry Richard Tregaron, Ceredigion 1893 Statue on pedestal Bronze and granite 5.5m high Grade II Q29495968
Philip James Bailey Nottingham Castle 1901 Bust and panel Bronze
Queen Victoria's Statue - geograph.org.uk - 107476.jpg Queen Victoria Town Hall, Royal Leamington Spa 1901 Statue on pedestal Sicilian marble and Aberdeen granite 3 metres high statue on a 4 metres high pedestal Grade II Q26661547
Jarrow, Sir Charles Mark Palmer statue - geograph.org.uk - 595987.jpg Charles Mark Palmer Jarrow, Tyneside 1903 Statue on pedestal with panels Bronze and Portland stone Grade II Q26637979
Nottingham Memorial Park Victoria 0391s.JPG Queen Victoria Memorial Park, Nottingham 1905 Statue on pedestal Marble and granite Grade II Q26560473
Monument to Suffolk soldiers, Christchurch park - geograph.org.uk - 1223180.jpg Boer War memorial Christchurch Park, Ipswich 1906 Statue on pedestal with plaques Bronze and stone Grade II Q26530640
South African War Memorial Statue - Cannon Hill Park - geograph.org.uk - 807866.jpg Boer War memorial Cannon Hill Park, Birmingham 1906 Sculpture group on tapered pedestal with reliefs and plaques Bronze and granite 6M tall Grade II Q26162445
The South African (Boer War) Memorial 2012.jpg South African War Memorial, Cardiff Cathays Park, Cardiff 1909 Sculptures on pedestal & base Bronze and Portland stone Grade II Q17741148
Memorial to Alistair Mackenzie St James's Church, Abinger Common, Abinger 1910 Wall tablet Grade II
King Edward VII statue Birmingham.JPG King Edward VII Memorial Centenary Square, Birmingham 1913 Statue on pedestal Stone Grade II Q6411498
Statue Reine Victoria Hôtel ville South Shields South Tyneside 3.jpg Queen Victoria South Shields c. 1913 Statue on pedestal Bronze and granite Grade II Q26525766
London Joint City and Midland Bank war memorial 4.jpg City and Midland Bank War Memorial Upper Bank Street, Canary Wharf, London 1921 2 sculptures, 14 inscribed panels and pediment Bronze and marble Sculptures represent St George and the Recording Angel.
Stone 22.jpg War memorial Granville Square, Stone, Staffordshire 1921 Statue on pedestal with plaques Bronze and stone Grade II Q26513651
Sandon 3.jpg War memorial Sandon Estate, Sandon, Staffordshire 1921 Statue on pedestal with plaques Bronze and stone Q104245206
Chadderton War Memorial.jpg War memorial Chadderton Town Hall, Greater Manchester 1921 Statue on obelisk and base Bronze and granite Grade II Q26320858
Royal Fusiliers memorial.JPG Royal Fusiliers War Memorial Holborn, London 1922 Statue on pedestal Bronze and Portland stone Grade II Q7374415
Leamington Spa War Memorial.jpg War memorial Euston Place, Royal Leamington Spa, Warwickshire 1922 Statue on inscribed pedestal Bronze and Cornish granite Grade II Q26661550
War Memorial, Streatham - geograph.org.uk - 26524.jpg Streatham War Memorial Streatham, London 1922 Statue on pedestal Bronze and stone Grade II Q32946115
Savage Club war memorial National Liberal Club, London 1922 Plaque Stone
Benenden Monument - geograph.org.uk - 46330.jpg War memorial Benenden, Kent 1923 Sculpture on pedestal Bronze and stone Grade II Q26371278
War memorial Thornton Cleveleys, Lancashire 1923 Statue on pedestal Bronze and granite
Oldham War Memorial.jpg Oldham War Memorial Grounds of St Mary's Church, Oldham, Lancashire 1923 Sculpture group on pedestal and base Bronze and granite Grade II Q22115519 Architect, Thomas Taylor
GKN War Memorial, Smethwick (geograph 6190503).jpg GKN War memorial Thimblemill Recreation Ground, Smethwick 1924 Statue on pedestal and steps Bronze and stone Grade II
Hall of Memory 2.jpg The Armed Forces and Nursing Services Hall of Memory, Birmingham 1923 4 Sculptures Bronze Grade I Q5642705
Midland Bank staff memorial for World War 2.jpg World War II Midland Bank Staff Memorial Canary Wharf, London Unveiled 1950 Reliefs and panels Stone and marble Originally located in Poultry in the City of London

Exhibition pieces

Name Location Comments
The Bather Victoria and Albert Museum London This 1915 work is held in the Victoria & Albert Museum, London to whom it was lent by the Tate Gallery.
Study of the actress Ellaline Terriss Held in a private collection This bronze by Toft dates to 1901.
The Spirit of Contemplation Laing Art Gallery, Newcastle-upon-Tyne This work dates to 1906.
Children of the Sculptor Held in a private collection This study by Toft of three of his children was executed in 1904.
Frank Brangwyn Cardiff This study by Toft is held in the Amgueddfa Cymru Caerdydd National Museum of Wales, Cardiff Accession number: NMW A 2988.
Maternity Held in a private collection This is one of Toft's works said to show the influence of the Lantéri-Dalou tradition
Fate-led Liverpool This work by Toft is held at the Walker Art Gallery in Liverpool.
Memorial to Charles Swinnerton Heap Walsall This panel by Toft was unveiled in 1901. It was moved to Walsall Town Hall in 1905.

Gallery

See also

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