Sydney Harpley RA (1927-1992)
"Singapore Girl on a Swing"
Signed in the cast and numbered 4/6, 6 June 1984, on a black slate base and stand, bronze, life size
Bronze: 158cm high, 170cm wide (approx.)
Base: 45cm high, 88cm wide, 62cm deep
Plinth: 8cms high, 84cm wide, 59cm deep
Exhibited: Royal Academy Summer Exhibition, 1984, V15
Harrogate Festival Exhibition, 1985
On loan to the Mercer Art Gallery and the Harrogate Town Hall since 1991
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Sydney Harpley was born in 1927 and served in the army National service 1945-48.
Between 1950-53 Harpley studied sculpture at Hammersmith School of Art, where he gained the National Diploma in Art and Design. This was followed with a period spent at the Royal College of Art from 1953-56 and was made an Associate of the Royal College of Art.
Harpley first exhibited sculpture at the Young Contemporaries in London and the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition of 1954, subsequently exhibiting at the latter every year.
Harpley has held a number of highly successful one man shows, including those at The Society of Arts, Cape Town, South Africa (1964), Adler Fielding Gallery, Johannesburg, South Africa (1964), The White House Gallery, Breda, Holland (1974), Nevil Gallery Bath, UK, (1983) to name but a few amongst others within Europe and the United Kingdom. Mixed exhibitions have also been numerous within England.
In 1958/9 Harpley was commissioned by London County Council to produce two sculptures, which was quickly followed by a commission from Hemel Hempstead New Town in 1960 for another four works. Cape Town has an over life size memorial to Jan Christian Smuts, amongst other international commissions, but perhaps "Girl on Swing" for the Singapore Botanical Gardens of 1984 is most notable here being no.1 from the edition of 6 and commissioned by his Excellency David Marshall, Singapore Ambassador to France.
Harpley also lectured at several art schools within the United Kingdom and acted within various committees including the Selection Committee for RA, the Summer Exhibition (1975-76), Council of RA (1975-6) & 1982-3.
Bronzes by this important Neo-Romantic artist can be found in many international and national collections including the National Gallery of New Zealand, the National Gallery of South Africa, Bradford City Art Gallery, University of Leeds (The Stanley and Audrey Burton Gallery), Samuel Josefowitz Collection, Geneva, Fleur Cowles Meyer Collection, London and the Paul Mellon Collection, USA. He has also produced several significant portrait busts on commission which include: HSH Prince Albert of Monaco for HSH Princess Grace of Monaco, Lee Kwan Yew, Prime Minister of Singapore and Viscount Villiers for Lord Jersey to name but a few.
Sydney Harpley's work captures the full grace of the female form. "Girl on a Swing" should be considered one of his finest works representing neo-romanticism in its purest form and arguably equivalent to some of the earlier work produced by Degas and Rodin of a similar theme.