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 Arthur George Walker  (1861 - 1939)

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Lived/Active: United Kingdom      Known for: sculpture

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Ad Code: 4
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from Auction House Records.
Peleus and Thetis: The Spurned Embrace
Artwork images are copyright of the artist or assignee
Biography from Christie's London, King Street:
Please note: Artists not classified as American in our database may have limited biographical data compared to the extensive information about American artists.

Born in Hackney, the son of a ship surveyor, Arthur George Walker attended the RA Schools between 1883 and 1888.  A sculptor, illustrator, ivory carver and mosaicist, Walker executed numerous mosaics and sculptural commissions for churches.  Prominent memorials include for the Marchioness of Lothian at Blickling Hall, Norfolk and for Lady Tollemache at Helmingham.

His most famous statues are of Florence Nightingale in Waterloo Place, Emmeline Pankhurst in Victoria Park Gardens and two niche figures for the front of the Victoria and Albert Museum. 

In Ovid's epic poem Metamorphoses, the sea-goddess Thetis resists the advances of the mortal Peleus.  Before he captures her, she changes herself in into a hundred different forms.  She represents the opacity of dreams.  They symbolize the ongoing dissonance between divine and mortal.  Their son is Achilles, the greatest of all mortal warriors.  The Spurned Embrace is exemplary of Walker’s ideal statues which are expressive of emotion and posed in action. 

This very human composition recalls Walker’s 1899 statue And They Were Afraid which depicts Adam and Eve immediately after they have eaten the forbidden fruit; their new expressions show knowledge, shame, and fear (bronze version in the Walker Art Gallery).  Also compare Walker's mastering of emotion in his marble statue Grief (diploma work 1915; donated by the artist to the Royal Academy in 1936).

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