Sculpture by Maker

Walter Gilbert - Biography

(1872-1945). Born in Rugby, 1872 he died in Worcester, 23rd December 1945. Second cousin to the sculptor Sir Alfred Gilbert, RA. After a university education he attended Birmingham School of Art 1898--9 as a part-time student. In 1900 he became Master of the Art Department at Bromsgrove School of Science and Art. A great entrepreneur, he also acted as agent to several craftworkers, selling their products under the name of the Bromsgrove Guild of Decorative Arts which had its first major success at the Paris Exhibition of 1900, where it won nine awards. Around 1904 the flourishing business was converted into a limited company and employed several continental craftsmen. A major commission from this period was the ornamental brasswork for the Great Gates at Buckingham Palace for Sir Aston Webb (1904). Gilbert later withdrew from the Guild and set up in partnership with the gifted Swiss modeller and brassworker from the Guild, Louis Weingartner, their main commission being the sculptural details for the Great Reredos at Liverpool Cathedral in 1909--10. They had a studio in Weaman Street, Birmingham from 1923--32 and, while Gilbert also worked freelance in local industries, together they produced garden sculptures as well as numerous war memorials including that for the Birmingham Conservative Club (now in the Birmingham Club, Ethel Street), and others at Crewe, Troon and Eccleston Park, Liverpool. Gilbert had a broad art-historical knowledge and wrote articles including ‘Romance in Metalwork’, and ‘The essentials of craftsmanship in metalwork’. A bronze bust of Walter Gilbert by his son, Donald Gilbert, was exhibited at the RA in 1931 and there is a memorial to him and Louis Weingartner, also by Donald Gilbert, at Hanbury church, Worcester. 1. Birmingham School of Art, Student registers, 1898--1899; 2. Kelly’s directory of Warwickshire, London, 1900, p.41; 3. W. Gilbert, and L. Weingartner, Sculpture in the garden, publicity booklet, Birmingham, undated (c.1925); 4. W. Gilbert, ‘The essentials of craftsmanship in metalwork’, Architectural Review, vol.59, April 1926, pp.127--47; 5. Loppylugs and B.J. Morrison, Characters and craftsmen, Bromsgrove, 1976; 6. RAE, vol.III, Wakefield, 1973, p.150; 7. R. Pancheri, ‘The rise and demise of the Bromsgrove Guild’, Bygone Bromsgrove, Stratford-upon-Avon, 1981; 8. W. Gilbert, ‘Romance in metalwork’, RIBA Journal, 3rd series, vol.XIII, no.6, 1906.

The works of Walter Gilbert:

Royal Sussex Memorial - The Bugler, Brighton

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