MONTFORD, Paul Raphael (1868-1938)

MONTFORD, Paul Raphael (1868-1938)
was born at London on 1 November 1868. His father, Horace Montford, also a sculptor, won a gold medal at the Royal Academy schools in 1869. The son also studied at the Royal Academy schools and was considered to have been one of the most brilliant students that ever attended them. He won the gold medal and travelling scholarship for sculpture in 1891 and for many years after was a frequent exhibitor at the Royal Academy exhibitions. Among his larger works in Great Britain are four groups on the Kelvin bridge, Glasgow, groups for the city hill, Cardiff, and a statue of Sir Henry Campbell Bannerman at Stirling.
Montford came to Australia in 1923 and for some time had difficulty in getting commissions. When Web Gilbert (q.v.) died in 1925, Montford was asked to complete the design for the memorial at Port Said; but there were difficulties in carrying out the work in Australia, and eventually it was given to Sir Bertram Mackennal (q.v.) in London. The winning of the competition for the sculpture for the Shrine of Remembrance at Melbourne gave Montford many years of work. He designed and modelled the four groups each 23 feet high, and the two tympana each 56 feet long and 8 feet high in the centre.
Montford was president of the Victorian Artists' Society 1930-2. His generally good work as president was occasionally marred by a certain lack of tact. He showed some excellent work about this period including the bronzes, "Water Nymph" and "Peter Pan", now in the Queen Victoria gardens, Melbourne, and "The Court Favourite" in the Flagstaff gardens. Other work includes relief portraits of eight Australian statesmen in the King's Hall, parliament house, Canberra, and the war memorial for the Australian Club, Sydney. He was greatly encouraged and pleased on learning in 1934, that his statue of Adam Lindsay Gordon at Melbourne had been awarded the gold medal of the Royal Society of British Sculptors for the best piece of sculpture of the year. Another excellent piece of work is his vigorous statue of Charles Wesley in front of Wesley church, Melbourne. His George Higinbotham near the treasury is less successful. He is represented in the national gallery at Melbourne by "Atalanta", the "Spirit of Anzac", and two busts, and he is also represented in the national gallery at Adelaide. He died after a short illness on 15 January 1938. He married in 1912 Marian, daughter of W. J. Dibdin, a capable painter in oils, who survived him with two daughters and a son.
Montford refused to be influenced by the modernist school. He was convinced it was a passing phase in art. The Greeks and the great Italians of the Renaissance appealed to him most. He was undoubtedly a sculptor of ability whose work showed good modelling, grace, careful arrangement, and vigour, as the occasion demanded. There was no great originality of mind, but within his limits he was a most capable artist.
Hodgson and Eaton, The Royal Academy and its Members; W. Moore, The Story of Australian Art; The Argus, Melbourne, 17 January 1938; Who's Who in Australia, 1933; personal knowledge.

Dictionary of Australian Biography by PERCIVAL SERLE. . 1949.

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