Sir Bertram Mackennal Sculpture Walk

Parliament Station, Spring St, East Melbourne

Sir Bertram Mackennal Sculpture Walk

Parliament Station, Spring St, East Melbourne

1 h 30 m
1.63 km
Very Easy

Learn about this expat superstar artist born in Fitzroy who lived in England. He was much in demand internationally and had significant royal patronage but continued to have commissions in Melbourne.

Sir Bertram Mackennal Sculpture Walk

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Summary

Learn about this expat superstar artist born in Fitzroy who lived in England. He was much in demand internationally and had significant royal patronage but continued to have commissions in Melbourne.

Description

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After alighting at Parliament Station make your way across Spring St to Parliament House (left hand side when facing).

Mackennal is born in Napier St, Fitzroy in 1863. His father John is a Stonemason (and artist) and he will do his early training (apprenticeship) with him between 1878-82. Then further studies at the National School of Design Melbourne. He is ambitious and looks towards England for further training and opportunities. He shares a studio with Tom Roberts and enrols in the Royal Academy.

Dissatisfied with copying from casts he leaves for Rome and Paris. He is Inspired by Rodin. In 1886 he will become head of modelling and design for Coalport Potteries in Shropshire. In the same year he wins a competition for the sculpture reliefs on the front of Parliament House and returns in 1887 to execute them. He was advised by Sarah Bernhardt to leave Melbourne and return to Paris. She wrote him many introductions. In 1893 he had his breakout sculpture with Circe creating interest at The Salon in Paris. It was later exhibited at the Royal Academy of Arts in London - he was the first Australian to exhibit at the RA. Commissions flowed and brought him back to Melbourne that included The Springthorpe Memorial and Sir William Clarke Sculpture. Other works included the medal for the 1908 London Olympics and the design for King George coinage and postage stamps. In 1919 Queen Mother Alexandra commissioned Mackennal to design and execute Edward VII’s tomb. Both bodies were interred in 1927 two years after the death of the Queen Mother.

He was the first Australian artist to be knighted in 1921 and elected to the Royal Academy London in 1922. The NGV has his portrait bust of Dame Nellie Melba although not on display. It was gifted in 1900. Mackennal died in Torquay, UK in 1931

This walk allows for time to stop and appreciate the artwork.

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Points of Interest

1. Parliament House Facade - Sculptural Reliefs - 1888

In 1886 Mackennal will become head of modelling and design for Coalport Potteries in Shropshire and wins a competition for the sculpture reliefs on the front of Parliament House and returns in 1887.

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2. Sir William Clarke Statue Treasury Gardens - 1901

In 1901 Mackennal returned to complete this state and when Clarke Senior died William became the largest landholder in Australia. He owned Rupertswood in Sunbury and Clivedon in East Melbourne.

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3. Circe 1893 - National Gallery of Victoria - Ian Potter - Level 2, Gallery 7

Circe was a turning point for Mackennal and he received an Honourable Mention at The Paris Salon. Later exhibited at the RA London organisers draped its base to hide the ambiguously entwined figures.

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4. The Welcome Window - NGV Ian Potter - Level 2 near Circe

This stained glass window 'The Welcome Window" was designed by John William Brown 1887 and brought to Melbourne for the Clivedon property in East Melbourne owned by Sir William Clarke.

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5. Edward VII Equestrian Statue - 1920

The monument’s design began after the death of King Edward VII in 1910. Mackennal's quote was £1867 but cost 3 times this. With WW1 intervening the statue was cast after the war and unveiled in 1920.

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Features

Public Transport Public Transport
Picnic spot Picnic spot
Drinking water available Drinking water available
Seating available Seating available
Public toilets Public toilets
Pram friendly Pram friendly
Historical interest Historical interest
Local treasures Local treasures
Art and culture Art and culture
Park / Garden Park / Garden