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(b London, 12 Aug. 1854; d London, 4 Nov. 1934). British sculptor and metalworker. He studied at the Royal Academy Schools and the École des Beaux-Arts, Paris (1875–8), after which he spent six years in Rome. He returned to England in 1884 and was soon given major public commissions, the best known of which is his Shaftesbury Memorial Fountain in Piccadilly Circus (1887–93). The celebrated figure of Eros that surmounts the fountain is cast in aluminium, one of the earliest examples of the use of this metal in sculpture. Its light weight allowed Gilbert to achieve a much more delicately poised pose than if he had been restricted to the traditional medium of bronze. Initially the fountain was heavily criticized (in 1893 it was described in 'The Times' as a "dripping, sickening mess"), but by the end of the First World War it had become a much-loved symbol of London.

Text source: The Oxford Dictionary of Art and Artists (Oxford University Press)


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