20th Century British Art
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George Edward Wade (1853-1933)

George Edward Wade was the youngest son among the fourteen children of a Soho rector (later Canon of Bristol). He was educated at Charterhouse and in Switzerland, and destined for the Bar until his health broke down and he was sent to Italy to recover.

Here he took up painting, later turning to sculpture. He began to exhibit his work and soon established himself with a terracotta statuette of a Grenadier Guardsman, a copy of which in bronze was purchased by the Queen. He then took over Boehm's old studio in the mews behind Onslow Square, where Baron Marrochetti had once had his workshop. Wade was there for about thirty years, from 1891 until at least 1920, moving up from studio No. 2 to No.1.

He achieved popular success with his portrait busts. For example, 500 copies of his likeness of the pianist Paderewski went out to America alone. But he also executed some huge monuments: his statues stand in Hong Kong, Bombay, Madras, Montreal and elsewhere.

Wade was rather a traditional sculptor in an age of innovation.
The popularity of Wade's sculpture was probably due not only to the fact that that it was always comprehensible but that it was both ennobling and restrained in equal measure. In portraiture he obtained at the same time a good likeness, much appreciated by the sitters and their families, and, in these works and in his more fanciful subjects, he engendered feelings of respect and admiration. It might be argued by some that his approach was too prosaic, but it would perhaps be more true to say that he cloaked classical ideals in the trappings of his own environment.

The appealing young girl of the Embankment fountain (a replica of one for the Women's World Temperance Association), and the defiant-looking Cameron Highlander atop his war memorial in Inverness, certainly look like individuals rather than types, and are both much admired: they have both been repaired/renovated in recent times. Until recently, Wade's equestrain statue of Earl Haig was a familiar landmark on Castle Hill, Edinburgh, and is also now been restored prior to relocation within the castle grounds

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