Francis Derwent Wood

(1871 - 1926)


Francis Derwent Wood (1871-1926), is one of the most famous English sculptors of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Born in Cumbria in 1871 he was educated in Switzerland and Germany, studying sculpture at the Kunstgewerbeschule, Karlsruhe under Heinrich Weltring (b 1846) and Hermann Gtz (1848-1901).
Returning to England in 1887, he worked as a modeller in Shropshire, first for the pottery firm of Maw & Co., and then for the celebrated iron founders Coalbrookdale. In 1889 he moved to London to study sculpture under Edouard Lanteri, at the Royal College of Art. There he worked with Thomas Brock (1890-92) and as assistant to Alphonse Legros at the Slade School of Art.
In 1896 he visited Paris and exhibited at the Salon of 1897. He was appointed Modelling Master at the Glasgow School of Art from 1897. Before returning to London in 1901, Derwent Wood undertook a number of important commissions in Glasgow, including architectural elements for the British Linen Bank and figural monuments for the Kelvingrove Art Gallery.
He was elected an Associate of the Royal Academy in 1910 and full Academician in 1920.
Derwent Wood’s sculpture consisted primarily of architectural and figurative work often as portraiture, allegory or memorial. He also created a number of mythological based works such as Psyche (1908-19), now in the collection of Tate Britain. During World War I he was in charge of making pioneering prosthetic masks for plastic surgery at Wandsworth Hospital in 1916-17. After the war he succeeded Lanteri as Professor of Sculpture at the Royal College of Art and was comissioned to creat important public monuments such as his most famous work the Machine Gun Corps at Hyde Park corner in 1925.