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Albert Toft

Albert ToftDescription : Albert Toft (Birmingham 3 June 1862 – 18 December 1949 Worthing, Sussex) was an English sculptor. His brother was the landscape artist Joseph Alfonso Toft.His parents were Charles Toft (1832–1909) and Rosanna Reevesborn, and he was born in Handsworth, then in Staffordshire, and now a suburb of Birmingham. He trained in Wedgwood's pottery and in 1881 won a scholarship to study sculpture at the South Kensington Schools under Professor Édouard Lantéri. He received silver medals in his second and... Page:a208

Albert Toft
Born(1862-06-03)3 June 1862
Handsworth, Staffordshire, England
Died18 December 1949(1949-12-18) (aged 87)
Worthing, Sussex, England
NationalityEnglish
Alma materSouth Kensington Schools
Occupationsculptor

Albert Toft (Birmingham 3 June 1862 – 18 December 1949 Worthing, Sussex) was an English sculptor. His brother was the landscape artist Joseph Alfonso Toft.

Life and career

His parents were Charles Toft (1832–1909) and Rosanna Reevesborn, and he was born in Handsworth, then in Staffordshire, and now a suburb of Birmingham. He trained in Wedgwood's pottery and in 1881 won a scholarship to study sculpture at the South Kensington Schools under Professor Édouard Lantéri. He received silver medals in his second and third years. The Oxford Dictionary of National Biography describes Toft as one of the major figures of "New Sculpture" following on from William Hamo Thornycroft and George Frampton. Toft described his work as 'Idealist' but he also said of himself that "to become an idealist you must necessarily first be a realist."

From 1885 onwards Toft exhibited at the Royal Academy and some of his most notable works exhibited at the Royal Academy included 'Fate-Led' (1890), 'The Sere and Yellow Leaf' (1892), 'Spring' (1897), 'The Spirit of Contemplation' (1901) and 'The Metal Pourer' (1915). In 1915 his sculpture 'The Bather' was purchased using the Royal Academy's Chantrey Fund. In 1900 Toft received a bronze medal at the Universal Exhibition in Paris.

In 1891 Toft was elected to the Art Workers Guild and in 1938 he was elected a fellow to the Royal Society of British Sculptors.

War Memorials

NameLocationCommentsImage
Thornton Cleveleys War MemorialThornton Cleveleys LancashireA granite pedestal is surmounted by a bronze depiction of a soldier by Toft, this Thornton Cleveleys' monument to remember the dead of two World Wars. Unveiling took place on 11 November 1923, this performed by Colonel Sir Hugh Jeudwine.
Chadderton War MemorialChadderton Greater ManchesterAnother Toft depiction of a soldier cast in bronze stands on a pedestal outside the Chadderton Town Hall. The inscription reads
"IN HONOUR OF THE MEN OF CHADDERTON WHO MADE THE SUPREME SACRIFICE AND IN GRATEFUL REMEMBRANCE OF ALL WHO SERVED THEIR COUNTRY IN THE GREAT WAR FOR FREEDOM 1914-1919"
Here the soldier is helmeted and standing at ease.
Chadderton War Memorial.jpg
City and Midland Bank War MemorialCanary Wharf Greater LondonThis memorial is located in a protected walkway near the east entrance at Upper Bank St. It had previously been located in Leadenhall Street in the City of London. Inscription reads
"IN/ MEMORIAM/ 1914-1919/ A RECORD OF THOSE MEMBERS/ OF THE STAFF OF THE/LONDON JOINT CITY & MIDLAND BANK/ WHO GAVE THEIR LIVES FOR THEIR COUNTRY/ (NAMES)" inscription
This is a marble memorial with a triangular pediment with lists of names on a total fourteen panels below it. Bronze figures of St George are on the left and the Recording Angel on the right, these by Toft. 717 names are listed of men who perished in the First World War.
Midland Bank Staff Memorial World War 2Canary Wharf Greater LondonOriginally located in Poultry in the City of London this memorial tablet is inscribed
"1939 - 1945 / OUT OF THE DEPTHS OF SORROW AND SACRIFICE / WILL BE BORN AGAIN THE GLORY OF MANKIND / (NAMES)" inscription
It is dedicated to the 478 employees of the Midland Bank who lost their lives in the Second World War. Toft carved the wreaths in relief which feature on the memorial.
Benenden War MemorialBenenden KentA variation of his usual theme of a standing soldier, here Toft has sculpted an allegory of Victory with the inscription
"

TO THE MEMORY OF THE MEN OF BENENDEN/ WHO FOUGHT AND DIED FOR JUSTICE/ AND LIBERTY IN THE GREAT WAR 1914 - 1919/ "THEIR NAME LIVETH FOR EVERMORE" inscription

Toft's bronze composition stands on a stone pedestal. The unveiling took place on 27 February 1923. Photograph shown courtesy John Brown
Benenden Monument - geograph.org.uk - 46330.jpg
"SUFFOLK SOLDIERS" MemorialIpswich SuffolkThis Boer War memorial is located in Christchurch Park in Ipswich. The memorial is inscribed
"SUFFOLK SOLDIERS MEMORIAL/ ERECTED BY/ SUFFOLK PEOPLE AS A MONUMENT/ TO SUFFOLK SOLDIERS WHO LOST THEIR/ LIVES IN THE SOUTH AFRICAN WAR/ 1899-1902" inscription on memorial
The memorial comprises a stone base which supports a pedestal on which Toft has sculpted a bronze depiction of a bare-headed soldier. There are plaques on each side of the base these listing the names of the 281 Suffolk men remembered.
Cannon Hill Park Boer War MemorialCannon Hill Park Birmingham West MidlandsThis memorial is inscribed
"TO / THE GLORIOUS MEMORY / OF THE / SONS OF BIRMINGHAM / WHO FELL IN THE SOUTH AFRICAN WAR 1899 - 1902 / AND TO PERPETUATE / THE EXAMPLE OF ALL WHO / SERVED IN THE WAR / THIS MEMORIAL IS ERECTED / BY THEIR FELLOW CITIZENS" inscription on memorial
It comprises a red granite base surmounted by a tapering pedestal on which are sited Toft's sculptures of a woman, a gun carriage and two soldiers. On the front face is a panel bearing a bronze relief and the other three faces have the names of those remembered listed on plaques. The woman represents "Peace" and her left arm supports a shield bearing the City Arms and an olive branch. There was a wreath in her right hand but this is missing. The relief panel shows two classical female figures which represent "Grief" and "Sympathy". They both hold wreaths. The names of 521 Birmingham men who die in the Second Boer War are listed. The unveiling ceremony took place on 23 June 1906 and the unveiling was performed by Gen Sir Ian Hamilton. Image shown courtesy Darius Kahn.
South African War Memorial Statue - Cannon Hill Park - geograph.org.uk - 807866.jpg
Leamington Spa War MemorialLeamington WarwickshireThe Leamington Spa War Memorial is located in gardens in Euston Place. It features a Toft sculpture of a soldier standing bare-headed with his rifle reversed. On the ground behind him is a steel helmet and gas mask. The memorial remembers the dead of the First and Second World War as well as those lost in the Malayan, Korean, and Northern Ireland conflicts. Toft's bronze stands on a Cornish granite pedestal. The names of the dead are inscribed on all four sides of the pedestal. 570 Leamington Spa men were lost in the First World War and 188 in the Second. The unveiling ceremony took place on 27 May 1922 and was performed by Lt.Gen Sir A Hunter Weston. A ceremony to unveil the additional names lost in the Second World War was held in November 1951. See image right shown courtesy Elliot Brown.War Memorial
Welsh National South African War MemorialCardiff GlamorganThis memorial stands in Cathay's Park on King Edward VII Avenue in Cardiff, described as "undoubtedly the finest and most original work of sculpture" there. It is inscribed
"TO THE MEMORY/ OF THE WELSHMEN WHO FELL IN SOUTH AFRICA/ 1899 - 1902/ ERECTED BY PUBLIC SUBSCRIPTION/ (NAMES)" inscription on war memorial
The memorial consists of a Portland stone pedestal on a granite base and on one side of the pedestal is a bronze by Toft which features a seated male figure representing "War and Courage". The figure holds a sword and leans against a shield. A seated female figure on the other side represents "Grief" and she holds a wreath and also leans on a shield. These two figures are surmounted by a winged figure representing "Peace". This figure holds an olive branch and stands on an orb. The 817 men remembered died in the Second Boer War of 1899 to 1902. The unveiling took place on 20 November 1909 and the unveiling was performed by General Sir J D P French who was to become the Earl of Ypres. See image on right shown courtesy Barrie Jenkins. This shows the figure representing "Peace" and the study "War and Courage". See photo of "War and Courage" in Gallery below.
Boer War Memorial Statue.jpg
Memorial to the Royal Fusiliers City of London RegimentHolborn Greater LondonThis memorial carries the inscription
"THE ROYAL FUSILIERS/ (CITY OF LONDON REGIMENT)/ TO THE GLORIOUS MEMORY/ OF THE/ 22,000 ROYAL FUSILIERS/ WHO FELL IN THE GREAT WAR/ 1914-1919/ AND TO THE ROYAL FUSILIERS/WHO FELL IN THE WORLD WAR/ 1939-1945/ AND THOSE FUSILIERS/ KILLED IN SUBSEQUENT CAMPAIGNS" inscription on memorial
A bronze study of a soldier by Toft stands atop a Portland stone pedestal. The soldier wears a helmet and holds his rifle. The unveiling ceremony took place on 4 November 1922 and was performed by the then Lord Mayor of London. Toft's figure here is identical to that on the 41st Division memorial at Flers in France. See photograph on right courtesy TB Murray
Royal Fusiliers memorial.JPG
Oldham War MemorialOldham LancashireThe Oldham memorial stands in the grounds of St Mary's Church in Church Street which is opposite Oldham Town Hall. The inscription reads
"DEATH IS THE GATE OF LIFE/ 1914-1918/ TO GOD BE THE PRAISE/ 1939-1945/ THESE TABLETS WERE ERECTED BY THE CITIZENS OF OLDHAM AS A LASTING MEMORIAL TO THEIR FELLOW TOWNSMEN WHO GAVE THEIR LIVES IN THE GREAT WAR ANNO DOMINI 1914-1918"inscription on memorial
Toft has sculpted a group of soldiers in the trenches, this cast in bronze. They stand on a square pedestal on a polished granite base and the names of the dead are on plaques on the churchwall. The total of men remembered is 2,688 from the First World War and a further 200 from the Second World War. The unveiling took place on 28 April 1923 and was performed by Gen Sir Ian Hamilton. A photograph is shown below courtesy Narniauk.
Oldham War Memorial.jpg
Birmingham Hall of MemoryBirmingham West MidlandsThis elaborate memorial stands in Centenary Square in the centre of Birmingham. The memorial consists of a central octagonal building with a domed roof. It is built of Portland stone and is on a plinth of Cornish granite. On the outside are four bronze figures by Toft each mounted on pedestals and representing the Services. Inside the central building or hall are three relief panels by William Bloye these showing war scenes and several books of remembrance contained within a glass dome. One of the four figures by Toft represents the Navy and Toft has sculpted a bare-chested sailor in a crouching position and holding a coil of rope in one hand and a ship's wheel in the other. Another bare-chested figure is of a soldier, representing the Army. He is also in a crouching position and rests his tin helmet on his left leg and his right hand rests of the barrel of a machine gun. The Air Force figure, again bare-chested and crouching, holds a blade and aerlions of an aircraft in his left hand. The fourth and final figure represents the Nursing Service and here a woman crouches down whilst holding a wreath in her left hand. In the interior, panel one depicts a wife saying goodbye to her husband as he joins others marching off to war. Another shows soldiers fighting in the trenches as wounded comrades slump out of the line of fire. In the third panel we see wounded soldiers returning home; the aftermath of war. The inscriptions on the interior panels read- Panel 1-
"OF THE 150,000 WHO ANSWERED THE CALL TO ARMS / 12,320 FELL: 35,000 CAME HOME DISABLED" inscription on panel 1
Panel 2-
"AT THE GOING DOWN OF THE SUN AND IN / THE MORNING WE WILL REMEMBER THEM" inscription on panel 2
Panel 3-
"SEE TO IT THAT THEY SHALL NOT HAVE / SUFFERED AND DIED IN VAIN" inscription on panel 3

The memorial was opened by HRH Prince Arthur of Connaught KG on 12 June 1923. Photograph on right shown courtesy Oosoom. Further images are shown in the gallery these of Toft's four figures.

Hall of Memory Birmingham.jpg
Streatham War MemorialStreatham Greater LondonThis war memorial is located in a garden by Streatham Common on Streatham High Road and features a Toft sculpture of a standing soldier with rifle reversed. It remembers those men of Streatham who perished in the First and Second World Wars. Toft's bronze sculpture stands on a stone pedestal. The unveiling took place on 14 October 1922.War Memorial, Streatham - geograph.org.uk - 26524.jpg
Stone War MemorialStone StaffordshireMemorial stands in Granville Square in Stone. It comprises a pedestal surmounted with Toft's bronze sculpture of a soldier. It remembers those Stone men who died in both World Wars. The soldier is bare-headed and holds a reversed Lee–Enfield rifle along with belt, haversack and water bottle. His steel helmet lies at his feet. Bronze plaques are sited on each side of the pedestal. Those plaques remembering the losses of the Second World War have Staffordshire Knots at the base. The unveiling ceremony took place on 10 January 1921 and the unveiling was carried out by the Earl of Dartmouth.Stone 1.jpg
Sandon Estate War MemorialSandon StaffordshireThis memorial dedicated to the men of the Sandon Estate killed in the 1914-18 war is unusual in that it records where the 23 men involved died. We see therefore how the men of Sandon served in various theatres of the war- The High Seas/France/Flanders/Gallipoli, Salonica, Mesopotamia, South Russia/ Egypt/Palestine/Italy/East Africa and India. In the gallery below is a photograph of the plaque which gives this information. The memorial comprises a stone pedestal on which stands Toft's bronze sculpture of a soldier. The memorial was unveiled in May 1921, the ceremony being carried out by Colonel John Ward.Sandon 3.jpg

Other works

NameLocationComments
Bust of Philip James BaileyNottingham NottinghamshireToft created this bronze bust and panel which stands on a pedestal within the grounds of Nottingham Castle.
Memorial to Mr.Jonathan WhiteNottingham NottinghamshireThis bust was sculpted by Toft in 1891 and also stands in the Nottingham Castle grounds.
The BatherVictoria and Albert Museum LondonThis 1915 work is held in the Victoria & Albert Museum, London to whom it was lent by the Tate Gallery.
Study of the actress Ellaline TerrissHeld in a private collectionThis bronze by Toft dates to 1901.
The Spirit of ContemplationLaing Art Gallery, Newcastle-upon-TyneThis work dates to 1906. See photograph in gallery below.
Children of the SculptorHeld in a private collectionThis study by Toft of three of his children was executed in 1904.
Frank BrangwynCardiff GlamorganThis study by Toft is held in the Amgueddfa Cymru Caerdydd [National Museum of Wales, Cardiff] Accession number: NMW A 2988.
MaternityHeld in a private collectionThis is one of Toft's works said to show the influence of the Lantéri-Dalou tradition
The King Edward VII MemorialBirminghamThis statue by Toft is located in Centenary Square, Birmingham, England. It is made of Carrara marble and was unveiled in 1913.
Statue of Queen VictoriaNottingham NottinghamshireThis statue dates to 1905. Toft also created sculptures of Queen Victoria for Leamington Spa and South Shields.
Fate-ledLiverpool MerseysideThis work by Toft is held at the Walker Art Gallery in Liverpool.
Statue of Henry RichardTregaronThis statue by Toft was unveiled on 18 August 1893. It is located in Tregaron Square, Tregaron.
Memorial to Charles Swinnerton HeapWalsallThis panel by Toft was unveiled in 1901. It was moved to Walsall Town Hall in 1905.

Gallery of Sculptures by Albert Toft

  • Bust Frank Brangwyn

  • Toft sculpture in Holborn

  • Stone War Memorial.

  • Chadderton War Memorial

  • Plaque showing where men of Sandon Estate died.

  • Soldier on Sandon Estate War Memorial.

  • The Nursing Service represented on the Birmingham Hall of Memory.

  • The Air Force represented on the Birmingham Hall of Memory.

  • The Navy represented on the Birmingham Hall of Memory.

  • The Army represented on the Birmingham Hall of Memory.

  • War and Courage by Toft. Cardiff.

  • Part Cardiff Boer War Memorial.

  • The Spirit of Contemplation

  • Henry Richard statue in Tregaron

  • King Edward VII Memorial in Birmingham, after restoration

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