Art | Alfred Drury – Victorian sculpture on campus

Image: Stanley and Audrey Burton Gallery

Tucked away in the Stanley and Audrey Burton gallery is a small yet extensive exhibition of Alfred Drury’s life works. An influential architectural sculptor of the Victorian and Edwardian times, Drury was part of New Sculpture, an artistic movement which shifted sculpture from its traditional roots towards a more vital and lifelike artform. The exhibition addresses the influences to his practice and the role he played in the movement, as well as including works by other artists such as Aimé Jules Dalou, Auguste Rodin, Lord Leighton, and Alfred Stevens.

Although his name may not be instantly recognisable to many, his work almost certainly is: one of his most famous works is the sculptural monument in Leeds’s City Square. Another prominent piece of his work is above the entrance to the V&A gallery. Drury’s work has been paid little
attention by art historians, perhaps because his artwork is more soft and sweet rather than vigorous and passionate, like many other New Sculpture artists. Drury’s talent for capturing innocence is particularly well demonstrated in the piece Boys Head in terracotta. The young boy’s slightly smiling face stares the viewer in the eyes and has an almost haunting manner.

Conveniently placed on campus, this exhibition definitely deserves a visit. Whether you hold a real appreciation for Victorian sculpture or not, it would be hard to be unimpressed in Drury’s skill and craftsmanship.

Claire Matthews

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