Henry Charles Fehr (1867-1940)
Henry Fehr was born in Forest Hill, London. He was of Swiss origin and an ancestor was a former President of the Swiss Republic. He spent many of his formative years around East London, living in Leyton and later South Kensington.
He studied at the City of London School, The Royal Academy and at the studios of Horace Montford and Thomas Brook.
He first exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1887 and in 1893 created “Perseus and Andromeda” which was in 1894 selected as a permanent piece on the West Balcony of the Tate Gallery, London, having been bought for the Chatrey Bequest.
Fehr’s most well known work includes Busts, War memorials, and bas reliefs.
“..to point out how he excels in every department of his art, his absolute mastery of anatomy , as shown in many of his delightful studies of the nude; how he excels in, perhaps the most difficult of all branches of sculpture, viz., portraiture. His bust of ‘Mr Gladstone’ is considered by many to be the finest example of modern art – it even challenges the famous ‘Sir Walter Scott’ by Chatrey, which long held an unassailable position…”
Other well known memorial busts include:
Queen Victoria – Hull
James Watt – Leeds
John Hampden – Aylesbury
Lord Beconsfield – Aylesbury
With regard to his most famous pieces, the frieze which occupies the front of the Supreme Court (previously the Middlesex Guildhall) , opposite Parliament Square, London would be among them.
“…considered Mr. Fehr’s masterpiece in decoration, viz., his already famous frieze on the front of the Middlesex Guildhall…The whole front is an art gallery – a sculpture gallery containing many statues all by Mr. Fehr, with a wealth of emblems of heraldic art…In the interior, among other decorative work designed and executed by Mr. Fehr, is a group of portraits of the Kings and Queens of England, carved on the oak bench ends in the Council Chamber.”
War Memorials were also a popular commission, in a recommendation for commissioning on the Colchester War Memorial, Mr. M. H. Spielmann F.S.A., F.R.S.L. is quoted as saying: “Mr. Fehr should give you a very beautiful War Memorial, for he combines, with the sense of sculpture, a fine and poetic imagination and freedom of conception.”
Examples of Mr. Fehr’s War Memorials include: Burton on Trent, Colchester, Eastbourne, Portsmouth , Langholm (Dumfries) , Leeds , Grangetown (Glamorgan) , Lisburn (Nr. Belfast) , Lockerbie (Scotland) , Hammersmith.
Other commissions include Shanghai and Graaff Reinit (Cape Colony, S Africa)
Quotes taken from the book entitled Colchester War Memorial