Edwin Roscoe Mullins (1848-1907)

An important sculptor on account of the liveliness and individuality of his figures, but the majority of whose works are unfortunately not so accessible. His principal work is the pedimental group on the Harris Art Gallery and Library in Preston, shown above. Some 13 full figures in stone, centred on Pericles, all male and classical in the extreme. The poses and drapes of the figures include allusions to particular Greek statues. But the figures, unlike classical Greek statues, are individualistic and have expressions, above all the fourth figure from left, the first standing one, who cranes his neck to engage with the figures to his left. Roscoe Mullins’ drapery is Roman rather than Greek, but this may reflect the nature of the stone he is using.

Also important among Roscoe Mullins’ work are the five panels on the Croydon Town Hall and Library, depicting Health (shown on this page), Music, Recreation (on this page), Religion and Study. In each case a lovely central female figure with complex blouse or light cloak and a simpler, heavier skirt below, is seated in a roundel flanked on each side by two or three smaller figures. The children are particularly individualistic, and their poses, gestures and expressions show a waywardness, even wilfulness, that contrasts with the calmer central figures.

More minor architectural works by Roscoe Mullins include the cherubs holding the shield of the Fine Art Society building in Bond Street, and further cherubic things on the front of the former Bank of Scotland, no 3-4 Bishopsgate Street, neither particularly characterful.

My Punishment is Greater than I can Bear.

Apart from this, there is a statue of William Barnes, the poet, in Dorchester, and a couple of ideal figures in Glasgow in the City Art Gallery. He exhibited almost 40 works at the Royal Academy, from 1873, and at various other venues, including portrait busts, ideal figures, and children at play. These include some tending to the sentimental - Sisters, Robin Goodfellow, Non Angli sed Angeli, Love's Token, and so forth; religious - Bless me, Even me also, O my Father, and some classical works recalling the Harris Art Gallery pediment figures, for example Comus, and the rather nicely posed male nude entitled My Punishment is Greater than I can Bear, shown here.

Study group from Croydon Town Hall & Library.

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