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William McMillan

 
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jamiemcginlay



Joined: 20 Dec 2006
Posts: 939
Location: Glasgow

PostPosted: Fri May 18, 2007 11:03 pm    Post subject: William McMillan Reply with quote

Below is a synopsis of the work of the Aberdeen born sculptor William McMillan. If I remember correctly I'm sure this was supplied to me by Malcolm a year ago so thanks to him!

Above - photograph supplied and re-produced by kind permission of Stan Bruce
McMillan is known to have been responsible for the sculpture on two Scottish war memorials, the City of Aberdeen and Echt. What struck me from the first time I ever saw the Echt war memorial was the portraiture which I think is among the finest of any found in Scotland's war memorials. The sculptors of the period tended to avoid the individual when working on public monuments and war memorials and instead tried to portray the ideal soldier, these artists often referred to this as portraying a 'type'. This was the classical approach and there was certainly good reason for this as the war memorial was normally intended to commemorate all of the men and women of the community who had served and died rather than any specific individual. The problem with this approach however is that I think it can often produce sculpture which is rather cold and impersonal. At Echt McMillan appears to have taken a different approach and by portraying a real individual he has, I think, succeeeded in portraying the typical, the type of Scottish soldier (presumably a Gordon Highlander) who left communities all over the country just like Echt and never returned. In portraying a real individual McMillan created a statue that visitors can relate to, creating a more meaningfull relationship between sculpture and viewer. Like most monumental sculptors McMillan has become largely forgotten but over recent years there has been increasing interest in his work which deserves serious research.
Below - Echt war memorial

Below - the following three photographs are supplied and re-produced by kind permission of Stanley Bruce




'William McMillan was born at Aberdeen on 31 August 1887. He studied at Gray's School of Art, Aberdeen and the Royal College of Art between 1908 and 1912 and at the Royal Academy Schools. He also studied in Florence. He served in the Great War and his experience of trench warfare at its worst marked him for life. As a sculptor, McMillan was distinguished by his wide range of subjects, from war memorials (Aberdeen and Manchester, 1919) to medals, curiosity about materials and his marked decorative ability. The last was amply illustrated in his two bronze groups of ‘Nereid and Triton with dolphins’ for the Earl Beatty Memorial Fountain, Trafalgar Square (1948), which was designed by Sir Edwin Lutyens and exhibited at Burlington House in 1940. He also sculpted the bust Earl Beatty (1948) inset on the north wall there. His white marble 'Syrinx' (1925) is in Glasgow Art Gallery and Museum. In 1938 he completed the bronze portrait statue 'King George V' for Calcutta. Originally positioned opposite the Outram Ghat in Calcutta, it is now at the front entrance of the Temple of Fame at Barrackpore. His 'Earl Haig' (1932) may be seen at Clifton College, Bristol. His statue of 'King George VI' (1954) in his garter robes stands in Carlton Gardens, London. His diminutive 'Sir Walter Raleigh' (1959) originally stood on Raleigh Green in Whitehall, but has since been rusticated to Greenwich, where it stands in the grounds of the former Royal Naval College. Cast by Morris Singer, his impressive life-size figurative sculpture of ‘Viscount Trenchard’ (1961) stands on Victoria Embankment in London. Other portrait statues included ‘Goodenough’ (1936) in Mecklenburgh Square, London; ‘Captain Thomas Coram’ (1963) of Foundling Hospital fame in Brunswick square, London; ‘Sir John Alcock’ and ‘Sir Arthur Brown’ at Heathrow were sculpted in 1966 and his ‘Charles Rolls and Henry Royce’ (1978) may be seen at the headquarters of Rolls Royce at 65 Buckingham Gate, London. His bronze statue ‘JMW Turner’ is on the staircase of the Royal Academy at Burlington House and his remarkable lightning conductor on the roof of Kensington Town Hall takes the form of a golden figure standing on one foot (1960).
McMillan sculpted ‘The Memorial Tablet to Sir Aston Webb’ in the Crypt of St. Paul’s Cathedral. Among his portrait busts those of Charles Cundall R.A.; A.R. Thompson R.A.; Vincent Harris R.A., F.R.I.B.A. and his friend Sir Edward Maufe R.A., F.R.I.B.A. were particularly successful. But McMillan’s personal qualities, taste and poetical invention, were best seen in the imaginative and decorative pieces in various materials with which year by year he charmed visitors to the R.A.. Good examples of his art are: ‘Garden Decoration in Portland Stone’ representing ‘Pan and a Nymph with Frisky Kids’ (1926); statuette-group ‘Two Women with Fruit’ in green slate (1927); ‘Sun and Moon Fountain’ – in collaboration with Lutyens and ‘Mother and Child’ (1928); ‘Swans’ a group in alabaster (1930); ‘The Birth of Venus’ in Portland stone which was purchased by the Chantrey Bequest in 1931 and ‘Night’ a group in South African marble (1932). His ‘Goetze memorial Fountain’ (1950) with triton and dryads may be seen in Regents Park. McMillan found considerable relaxation in water colours and pastels and many of his sketches were exhibited at the R.A.. In association with his friends Vincent Harris and Sir Edward Maufe, much of his work was of an architectural nature and may be seen on public buildings throughout Britain. Aberdeen, the city of his birth, elected McMillan as one of its Freemen and its University conferred upon him the honorary degree of Doctor of Law. In retirement McMillan was elected an Honourary Life Member of the Chelsea Arts Club, where he lunched almost daily until his death. In his younger days, he played a prominent part in the organization of the Chelsea Arts Ball at the Royal Albert Hall. In 1966 McMillan gave up his Chelsea studio and retired from active exercise of his profession, but continued to paint for pleasure. He was elected A.R.A. in 1925, A.R.B.S. in 1927, F.R.B.S. 1932, and R.A. in 1933. In the period 1929 – 40 he was Master of the Royal Academy Sculpture School. He was elected H.R.B.S. in 1964. A few days before his 90th birthday in 1977, McMillan travelled to his Chelsea bank from his home in Richmond in Surrey, was mugged and found in the street badly injured minus his wallet. He died shortly thereafter in hospital.
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kinnethmont



Joined: 19 Dec 2006
Posts: 1675
Location: Aberdeenshire

PostPosted: Mon Nov 17, 2008 8:40 pm    Post subject: Wm McMillan Reply with quote

William McMillan also designed the British War, Victory and 1915 Star medals.
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If ye break faith with us who die
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DerekR
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Joined: 19 Dec 2006
Posts: 2974
Location: Hawick, Scotland

PostPosted: Mon Nov 17, 2008 9:09 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

How did I miss this posting first time around?

The first thing I thought, when I saw the sculpture, was how "Scottish" the face looked, how the pose was, just the entire demenour of the figure is "Scot".

"portraying the typical" indeed.

Superb.
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DerekR
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Location: Hawick, Scotland

PostPosted: Tue Nov 18, 2008 7:05 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I've just been thinking that the photo on the front cover of Lynn McDonald's book "To the Last Man" immediately sprung to mind when I saw the memorial.
(For those that know it, it is a cracking photograph and I would be very interested to know who and what it portrays.)


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