Welcome to the Australian Art sculptor biography. The selected biography is: Mackennal, Sir Edgar Bertram.
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Sculptor Biographies

>> Mackennal, Sir Edgar Bertram

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Truth 1894, bronze 66x18.5x16cm
Table centrepiece c.1897
Queen Victoria at her coronation 1897, bronze 56.3x24.8x24.3cm
Madonna c.1905-06, bronze 25.5cm
Peace, bronze 20cm



Sir Edgar Bertram Mackennal sculptor, was born on 12 June 1863 at Fitzroy, Melbourne, second son of John Simpson Mackennal (1832-1901) and his wife Annabella, nee Hyde, both Scottish. His initial training was undertaken by his father, a locally prominent architectural modeller and sculptor.

He was the first Australian artist to be knighted - he was created MVO (Member of the Royal Victorian Order) in 1912 and KCVO (Knight Commander of the Royal Victorian Order) in 1921 - but he was the first and only Australian sculptor ever to be made a full member of the Royal Academy, being elected ARA in 1909 and RA in 1922. He was also the first overseas-born RA.

Mackennal became an exceptional avant-garde artist in the 1890s. He was immersed in a radical new sculptural movement subsequently known as 'the New Sculpture' and was inspired by Symbolist, Art nouveau and new classicist tendencies. Living in Paris in the mid 1880s and again in the early 1890s, Mackennal became a commanding sculptural synthesiser, tempering the radical innovations, expressive surfaces, and sexualised subjects of Rodin with the style and sentiments governing more establishment conceptions. He was also strongly influenced by the progressive French interest in Florentine Renaissance traditions and its preoccupation with the eroticised body.

Based in London from the mid-1890s, Mackennal rose to sculptural prominence & creating the memorial tomb to King Edward VII and Queen Alexandra at Windsor, Britain's national memorial to Thomas Gainsborough in Sudbury, Suffolk, as well as sculptural projects for Britain's royalty and social elites, including Lord Curzon the Viceroy of India, and the Duke of Norfolk. Mackennal is renowned for the national memorial to Edward VII at Waterloo as well as works in Westminster Abbey, York Minster, Winchester Cathedral, the Palace of Westminster and St Paul's Cathedral, amongst others.

Mackennal returned to Australia only three times, yet he maintained close ties with this country and completed a significant number of public works for Australian sites - including the Martin Place cenotaph, the figures of Archbishop Kelly and Cardinal Moran at St Mary's Cathedral, and the Shakespeare memorial in Sydney, along with the monument to Edward VII, located in Adelaide, the monumental statue of Queen Victoria in Ballarat, the King Edward VII and Springthorpe memorials in Melbourne, and various statues of civic dignitaries in Brisbane and Perth. Mackennal's Springthorpe memorial is without question the most spectacular example of Art Nouveau and Symbolist inspired sculpture in this country.


1878 National Gallery School of Design, under O. R. Campbell


2007 Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney
1993 the Royal Academy, London, UK
1926 Macquarie Galleries, Sydney


Tate Gallery, London, UK
Australia House, London, UK
Ballarat Fine Art Gallery, Ballarat
National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne
National Gallery of Australia, Canberra
Harris Museum and Art Gallery, Preston
The Blackburn War Memorial


M. Spielmann, British Sculpture and Sculptors of Today (Lond, 1901); L. Taft, Modern Tendencies in Sculpture: Scammon Lectures for 1917 (Chicago, 1921); W. K. Parkes, Sculpture of Today, 11 (Lond, 1921); Dictionary of National Biography, 1931-40; N. Hutchison, Bertram Mackennal (Melb, 1973); G. Sturgeon, The Development of Australian Sculpture 1788-1975 (Lond, 1978); K. Scarlett, Australian Sculptors (Melb, 1980); S. Beattie, The New Sculpture (New Haven, Connect, 1983); Bulletin, 13 Apr 1901; Argus (Melbourne), 13 Oct 1931; 'Obituary', Times (London), 12 Oct 1931, p 14; Herald (Melbourne), 12 Oct 1931; Age (Melbourne), 8 Apr 1933


Small Size $25,000 - $40,000
Medium Size $40,000 - $60,000
Large Size $80,000 - $100,000

The sizes are individual to each artist depending on the sizes of medium that they use. The price range is an approximate guide only and should be treated as such.

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