Gilbert Ledward RA View of the Italian town of Nonantola near Modena, pen and brown ink on wove paper, 30 July 1914
© Royal Academy of Arts, London

Object of the Month - August 2014

  

Gilbert Ledward RA View of the Italian town of Nonantola near Modena, pen and brown ink on wove paper, 30 July 1914


This sketch shows a view of the Italian town of Nonantola near Modena. It comes from a sketchbook used by the young sculptor Gilbert Ledward just before the outbreak of the First World War in July and August 1914. If you click on the image it is also possible to see the other side of this page which shows a detail of a decorative, carved marble screen in Ravenna Cathedral. Previously, Ledward had been studying at the Royal Academy Schools where he won the gold medal for sculpture and became the first sculpture student to be awarded the prestigious scholarship to the British School at Rome. He travelled to Italy at the end of 1913 and remained in Rome until May when he was joined by his wife, Margery. They toured Italy together, first visiting Naples and Salerno before heading north where Ledward made a particular point of studying medieval and Renaissance monuments in Ravenna, Padua and Florence. Britain's declaration of war against Germany on 4th August 1914 hastened their return to London.

Ledward enlisted in the Royal Garrison Artillery shortly afterwards and by April 1917 he was a lieutenant fighting on the Italian eastern front. A year later he was recalled to London to work for the Ministry of Information as a war artist, producing designs for a relief frieze sculpture representing 'the experiences of the British Army to the Battle of the Marne' and he spent the next decade producing designs for First World War memorials including the Guards' Division Memorial in London. The Royal Academy collection holds 86 of Ledward's sketchbooks spanning his whole career from his student days in the early 1900s to the late 1950s. Six of his sketchbooks relating to First World War memorials are now on display in the exhibition We Will Remember Them at the Quadriga Gallery, Wellington Arch until 30 November 2014.