Bates, Harry (DNB01)

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BATES, HARRY (1850–1899), sculptor, born at Stevenage, Hertfordshire, on 26 April 1850, was son of Joseph and Anne Bates of that town. As a lad he was apprenticed as carver to Messrs. Bridley & Farmer of 63 Westminster Bridge Road, and worked between 1869 and 1879 on the ornamentation of many churches in course of building or restoration in the provinces. Returning to London, he was able to combine his work with attendance at classes in the Lambeth art school. Jules Dalou was teacher of modelling there, and, although Bates had only three months of his teaching, it is im- possible not to regard this as a determining influence. The first head which Bates modelled at Lambeth obtained a silver medal from the South Kensington board of examiners. Dalou returning to Paris, Bates entered the Royal Academy schools. The authorities there soon gave him not only a gold medal but also a travelling studentship of 200l. for his bas-relief representing 'Socrates teaching the people in the Agora;' this, done into marble, was subsequently presented to the Owens College, Manchester, by Mr. Alfred Waterhouse, R.A. Settling in Paris, Bates took a studio of his own, and, acting on Dalou's suggestion, obtained private tuition from Rodin. Rodin's influence proved smaller than might have been expected. 'Comparing the "Socrates" modelled in London with the Virgil reliefs modelled in Paris we find in the latter a greater freedom and flexibility . . . but the peculiar gift of their author is as traceable in the "Socrates" as in the "Æneas" and "Dido," and it is not a gift in the use of which Rodin could do much to help him. His conceptions fall naturally into balance and rhythm. They are not inspired with the energy, the melancholy, or the tragic humanity of the French master, but show a sympathy with line and a felicity in concentrating its powers so as to arrive at unity, to which there is no parallel in Rodin's works' (Sir Walter Armstrong).

The panels from Virgil form a sort of triptych in bronze, and, but for the fact of their having been executed in Paris, would have been purchased under the terms of the Chantrey bequest. This work, exhibited in 1885, was followed in 1886 by 'Homer,' a bas-relief, illustrating Coleridge's line: 'a blind old man, and poor,' and forming a companion to the 'Socrates,' which was shown at the same time. In 1887 appeared the three panels illustrating the story of Psyche, which proved, if one might judge by the demand for framed photographs, to be his most popular work; in 1889, 'Hounds in Leash,' an important group (in the round) of a young man restraining his boar-hounds; in 1890, the design for the altar frontal. Holy Trinity church, Chelsea; and in the same year 'Pandora,' which was bought by Chantrey's trustees, and is now in the Tate Gallery, Millbank.

In 1892, when Bates was elected associate of the Royal Academy, he exhibited a panel in relief, the 'Story of Endymion and Selene;' a design for the chimney-piece for which that work was intended; a marble bust of J. H. B. Warner, esq.; Guy's medallion in bronze; the memorial of James Tennant Caird; and a door-knocker in silver. In the same year, at the Grosvenor Gallery, he showed the head, cast in bronze, of the beautiful Rhodope. At the same period, when his reputation was generally acknowledged, he was still very often employed upon decorative works for metropolitan buildings. The most notable of his latest works were the statue of the Queen for Dundee; a bronze bust of 'Field-marshal Lord Roberts;' and the equestrian statue of that general, now in Calcutta, which was set up in the courtyard at Burlington House during the exhibition of 1897, He also commenced a companion statue of Lord Lansdowne which was completed by Mr. Onslow Ford, R.A., and unveiled at Calcutta by Lord Curzon on 7 Jan. 1901.

Bates died on 30 Jan. 1899 at his residence, 10 Hall Road, St. John's Wood, N.W. He was buried at Stevenage on 4 Feb. He was prevented by illness from completing with his own hands all that he had undertaken, but his friends superintended, after his death, the business of casting the latest of his undertakings. That a sculptor, owing so much to French teachers, should have become famous for works so purely and perfectly English in feeling is proof in itself that he was more than merely talented.

[Portfolio; Artist, December 1897; Times, 1 Feb. 1899; Tate Gallery, official catalogue; private information.]

E. R.