Richard Beford was a renowned sculptor who joined in 1903 the Victoria & Albert Museum where he became Keeper of the Department of Sculpture from 1924 to 1938 and of the Department of Circulation from 1938 to 1946. In 1947- 8 he was Curator of Pictures at the Ministry of Works.
Born the son of George Bedford, headmaster of the Torquay School of Art, Richard Bedford was educated at Cheltenham College and the Central School of Arts and Crafts in London, a school established in response to the Arts and Craft Movement sponsored by William Morris and John Ruskin. In 1925 Bedford went to the British School in Rome where he met Barbara Hepworth. It was him who sparked off her career by introducing her in 1927 to the collector George Eumorfopoulos who bought two of her works. Bedford was active between 1924 and 1953, but it was not until 1927, at the age of 44, that he properly developed as a sculptor showing a great understanding of the qualities of materials, both in the forms and textures. Many of his sculptures are often described as polychrome as they tend to combine various coloured stones and take advantage of their veining and marking. Bedford was an active member of the London Group from 1936 to 1938 and a member of the Seven and Five Society in 1932-1933, when the group was in a transition period, being taken over by modernist artists such as Hepworth, Moore and Piper.
Not only a sculptor, Richard Bedford was also a writer, contributing to many articles and reviews in publications such as the Dictionary of National Biography, the Encyclopedia Britannia, the Burlington Magazine, the Connoisseur among others. He was also correspondent of the Kunstkronik in Berlin.
Later, while living in West Mersea in Essex where he lived for a long time, Bedford became involved with Colchester Art Society of which he became a committee member. For many years the Minories Art Gallery in Colchester had a section of three weeks allocated to CAS every year and his work was often accepted. He was a great friend of Henry Moore as well as of John Nash and Cedric Morris. Lucien Freud was also part of this group. He was known to have a dry sense of humour and of being rather introverted.
These drawings are probably preparatory drawings for sculptures, which would explain their curving qualities. The plant drawings might have been influenced by John Nash’s work, examples of which can be found in this collection.
- 1927 The Goupil Gallery, London
- 1931 to 1939 The London Group Exhibition
- 1936 The Lefevre Gallery, on man show
- 1938 Empire Exhibition, Scotland
- 1942 Manchester City Art Gallery, New Movements in Art
- 1942 to 1953 Royal Academy Summer Exhibition
- 1948 Open Air Sculpture Exhibition, Battersea Park, London
Also exhibited at the New Burlington Galleries, London and the Leicester Beaux Arts
Mapping the Practice and Profession of Sculpture in Britain and Ireland 1851-1951, University of Glasgow History of Art and HATII, on line database 2011 [http://sculpture.gla.ac.uk/view/person.php?id=msib7_1204822914]
The Times, Obituary, 5 October 1967
WILCOX, Denys J., The London Group 1913-1939: the artists and their works, Scholar Press, Aldershot,1995
I would like to thank Anthony Atkinson (q.v.) President of Colchester Art Society, for identifying this series of drawings and giving me invaluable insight information on the artist.