Saturday, 28 February 2009

Victoria and Albert Toft

Splendid surprise this morning to see that Leamington's statue of Queen Victoria has been scrubbed to dazzling whiteness. Hurrah!

The monumental figure of the Queen Empress is the work of Albert Toft, a Midlands-born artist who seems to have specialised in memorials.

Just down the street is another Toft figure, a lone rifleman, atop the town's war memorial.

One of his biggest commissions was to create the four large bronze figures that circle Birmingham's principal war memorial, the Hall of Memory.

Very much of their time, the impressively idealised figures represent in turn the Army (above), Navy, Air Force and Women's Services.

I'm intrigued that so many of the memorials created in the aftermath of WW1 are deliberately, one mights say emphatically, secular in character.

Back to Leamington. A plaque reveals the Queen Victoria was stirred, but not shaken, by the air raid of 14 November 1940.

On the same night, the raid on nearby Coventry continued for ten hours, causing massive destruction and taking the lives of 568 civilians.

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