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Louis Reid Deuchars

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PostPosted: Fri Feb 09, 2007 4:56 pm    Post subject: Louis Reid Deuchars Reply with quote

Louis Reid Deuchars

Below - Glenelg war memorial; photograph supplied and reproduced by kind permission of Louise Boreham - Copyright Louise Boreham.

Born in Comrie, Perthshire, son of a tinsmith.

Studied at Glasgow School of Art in 1887 and 1888 and apparently continued to work in Glasgow at least from 1893 till 1895.

In 1895 was appointed as assistant to the artist G.F. Watts to help with the Victorian artists two colossal commissions for heroic sculptures of 'Physical Energy' and 'Tennyson'. Later worked for Watts' wife, the artist Mary Fraser-Tytler on a four year project involving the construction of a mortuary chapel at Compton near Guildford, using hand-moulded bricks, in the Arts and Crafts Style. A small bronze statue of Watts by Deuchars is on display in the Watts Gallery at Compton, not far from the mortuary chapel, which received recognition in an article in 'The Studio' in 1902.
There are lots of good photos of the Compton Memorial Chapel at this site:

After the completion of the mortuary Mary Fraser-Tytler then set up a pottery at Aldourie, her former home near Inverness. This was a project in the Arts and Crafts tradition intended to provide work for the nearby village of Dores and she made Deuchars the manager (some of the manufactured pots can still be seen at Cambo Country Park south of Saint Andrews). It was here that Sir Robert Lorimer first met Deuchars in 1902 while he was engaged on alteration works at Aldourie Castle and some time later began to engage him in a number of projects.

Travelled to London to work as assistant to Sir William Goscombe John.

1908 He returned to Edinburgh to begin working for Sir Robert Lorimer. He worked in the Dean Studio, an old converted church at 4 Belford Road along with other of Lorimer's artists including Thomas Beattie and Joseph Hayes. He worked for two years modelling pieces for the Thistle Chapel in St. Giles Cathedral, the final wood sculptures being carved by the Clow Brothers, and stone items carved by Colville's Yard in Dalry. He also modelled the bronze electric light fitting of an angel supporting a lamp with 'The Pelican in her Piety' and a heart below which was exhibited at the Arts and Crafts Exhibitions in London in 1912; and he even modelled the key and door-handle for the chapel. Other works carved by the Clow brothers included the pendant angels for Dunblane Cathedral and carvings in St. James Church, Cupar in Fife.

Deuchars specialised in the modelling of small scale decorative sculptures for panels for fireplaces, wood panelling and decorative objects. The wood panelling and object designs would then be handed over to woodcarvers to be carved out and copied exactly in wood. He was involved in wood panelling at Marchmont House in Berwickshire modelling various figures for which he used his wife and two children as models. He modelled panels for fireplaces in Dunrobin Castle, Sutherland, as part of the 1915 restoration after a fire, which were carved in Hopetonwood (a marble found in Derbyshire) and which were carved by Allens of Edinburgh. The 'Miracle Fountain' for the gardens of a house called 'Midfield' featuring a boy and a frog was exhibited at the R.S.A. summer show in 1917.

Deuchars developed a high reputation for working in bas relief and executed several works and was annoyed when his full-length portrayal of Bishop Dowden (cast in brass by Henshaws and set in the floor of St. Mary's Cathedral, Edinburgh) was not accepted for exhibition by the R.S.A.. He also modelled the grotesque monkey ridge finials at Balmanno in his native Perthshire, and at Formakin in Renfrewshire.

Deuchars had spent his career working as a highly skilled artisan executing small scale works for architects such as Lorimer and working as assistant to the great sculptors of the day. He finally got his chance to execute a large scale work of his own when Sir Robert Lorimer handed him the commission to model the sculpture for the Glenelg war memorial to Lorimer's own Baroque design. This featured an Angel representing 'Peace and Victory', with a Cameron Highlander coming to the aid of a female figure symbolising 'Stricken Humanity'.
After the Great War the owner of the local estate at Glenelg, Lady Scott, wished to commemorate her son and the other local men who had been killed in the conflict. She offered to provide the funds for either a war memorial or for a much needed pier to serve the community. The community voted for a war memorial and Sir Robert Lorimer was approached to carry out the design.
Deuchars took two years to model the group before it was taken to London for casting. Unfortunately during the journey to London the Angel's head was badly damaged and she was given more hair than Deuchars intended in order to cover up the damage.
The monument has come in for considerable criticism over the years and the baroque composition can certainly appear a bit theatrical to modern eyes but it has been fiercely defended by the people of Glenelg. The fact that the local people voted for such a memorial instead of a pier at a time of economic recession might seem hard to understand in a consumer age, but at the same time it demonstrates just how powerful the need was to commemorate and remember the men who had died in the post-war years and such criticism perhaps says more about the critics than the folk of Glenelg.
The result has to be one of the most striking and spectacular war memorials in Scotland, not just because of its striking design but because of its location. Driving over the Mam Rattigan from Loch Duich and the Five Sisters on single-track roads you round a bend and suddenly are confronted with this huge bronze group standing seemingly in the middle of nowhere in a spectacular site overlooking the Sound of Sleat.

Above - Glenelg war memorial; photograph supplied and reproduced by kind permission of Louise Boreham - Copyright Louise Boreham.
This photograph gives a good impression of the scale of this monument and the magnificent scenery that surrounds it.

Glenelg was Deuchars last work for Sir Robert Lorimer who began to patronise a fellow former Loretto School boy and sculptor Charles Pilkington DíOrville Jackson. He did however have some involvement in the Dores war memorial in Invernessshire were the Terracotta panels 'The Garment of Praise' were incorporated into the design for the memorial archway. It is believed these panels were spares left over from the work on the Compton Memorial Chapel and may have been executed by Deuchars.

(Above - An original watercolour of the proposed design for the Dores memorial featuring the Teracotta panels 'The Garment of Praise', This image is supplied and reproduced by kind permission of the South Loch Ness Heritage Group and my thanks to them for all their help and assistance. Copyright South Loch Ness Heritage Group.)

Deuchars later went on to model a Madonna and Child group for Old Saint Pauls, Edinburgh; and also exectuded small scale works for Charles Henshaw of Edinburgh.
Deuchars died in 1927 and was buried in Saughton Cemetery, Edinburgh. Many artists of the day attended the funeral but there was apparently no headstone erected to mark Deuchars grave.
Other works:
Fireplaces in Lennoxlove, Haddington; and at Midfield, Lasswade.
Mouldings for Hoptonwood and Midfield.
The Howard Portrait at Greystoke Church, Cumbria
Bas reliefs of Rev. Alex Whyte D.D. and John Warrack

My thanks to Deucharís Granddaughter Louise M. Boreham for supplying much of this information.
There is further information on Deuchars on the Wikepedia article here:

Auchterarder Notes, The Strathearn Herald, 2nd November 1895

Lorimer Papers in Special Collections Department of Edinburgh University Library

The Studio, Vol XXIV, 1902, p.134

The Architectural Heritage Society of Scotland, The Journal and Annual Report, 1988, No.15, pp14-20

Last edited by jamiemcginlay on Wed Oct 10, 2007 9:44 pm; edited 5 times in total
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Joined: 19 Dec 2006
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Location: Hawick, Scotland

PostPosted: Fri Feb 09, 2007 7:10 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

This really is a cracking memorial.
There is a very good website on it HERE

Time but th' impression stronger makes, As streams their channels deeper wear.
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PostPosted: Fri Feb 09, 2007 9:17 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks Derek,
I forgot to mention one of the men listed on the memorial, Valentine Fleming, was the father of Ian Fleming the creator of James Bond.
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