Glasgow - City of Sculpture
By Gary Nisbet
Albert Hemstock Hodge
(1875-1917)
Born at Port Ellen, on the island of Islay, on 17 July 1875, the son of Alexander A Hodge, the Collecting Supervisor of the Inland Revenue, he originally trained as an architect in the Glasgow office of William Leiper and studied at GSA , where he regularly won local and national prizes for modelling and architectural design.

His skill in modelling architectural details in clay at Leiper's eventually led him to pursue a career as a sculptor.

He worked with architects James Salmon and J Gaff Gillespie and sculptor Johan Keller on the Glasgow-Style wood carvings at 22 Park Circus (1897-1900) for Walter Macfarlane II, but made his name with his plaster angels on the domes of James Miller 's Kelvingrove International Exhibition Buildings (1901, lost).

Hodge also produced a plaster statue of the as yet uncrowned King Edward VII, which was displayed under the dome of the exhibition's Industrial Hall. Despite being the first ever statue of the new monarch, the statue was much derided by the critics and disappeared after the exhibition closed (a rare photograph of the 8ft statue in-situ, is reproduced in Kinchin & Kinchin (1988, p. 63).

Moving to London in 1901, he later produced colossal groups for Beaux-Arts buildings by Miller and J J Burnet in Glasgow. These include:

The crouching figures and heraldry on Miller's Caledonian Chambers, 75-9 Union Street (1901-3); the Atlantic class locomotive and figures of Science and Speed on his former North British Locomotive Company Offices, 110 Flemington Street (1903-9) and the colossal groups and portrait statues on J J Burnet's Clyde Navigation Trust Building, Robertson Street (1905-8).

Interestingly, the female figures on the Clyde Trust Building and North British Locomotive Company Offices are identical, except for their poses and allegories; a factor which confirmed Hodge as the sculptor of the hitherto unattributed latter groups (Att: Gary Nisbet, letter to Mark O'Neill, Curator, Springburn Museum, June 1989).

Hodge also executed the statue of Queen Victoria on Miller's Jubilee Block at Glasgow's Royal Infirmary, which was erected without official ceremony or press comment (1914).

He also executed architectural sculpture for major buildings in England, Wales and Canada.

These include the sculpture on Deptford Town Hall (1900-3); Cardiff City Hall (1900-5); Burnet's General Buildings, Aldwych (1906); Royal Exchange Buildings, London (1907); and the colossal groups representing The Daughters of Neptune, Guildhall, Hull (1907) and Navigation and Mining on Mid Glamorgan County Hall, Cardiff (1910); the statues of Chippendale and Wedgewood on the VA façade (1908-9) and the pediment groups on the Parliament Buildings, Winnipeg, Canada (1916-19).

His architectural work in other parts of Scotland is rare; an identified example being the sculpture on The Courier Building, 22 Meadowside, Dundee, which includes a pair of Atlantes representing Literature and Justice (1902).

Another example is the powerfully modelled centrepiece and pediment groups on Miller's Clydebank Town Hall (1901-2), whose writhing, muscular figures represent the town's industrial and shipbuilding heritage, and whose bronze figure of Mercury on the cupola of the building's tower was once a well loved, iconic landmark on the Clydebank skyline, until it was blown down in a storm in 1968.

Now on display in the building's foyer, a recent campaign to have him raised onto the tower again having failed, Mercury has long been believed to have been one of the figures removed from Miller's Kelvingrove Exhibition buildings, but this can be discounted by the fact that the Kelvingrove figures were female, winged and wore voluminous dresses, wherease Mercury is wingless, nude and unmistakeably male. He is also nowhere to be seen in any photographs of the exhibition's buildings or grounds.

Amongst Hodge's other commissions are:

The Royal Arms on the former National Bank, 47 St Vincent Place, Glasgow (1898-1906); the silvered, cast bronze Font in Stenhouse and Carron Parish Church, Stenhousemuir (1900); the marble relief panels and plaster atlantes, Grosvenor Restaurant, Glasgow (1902-7, dest. 1973).

One sculpture scheme in Glasgow which is thought to be by Hodge but which remains unconfirmed by contemporary documentation, is the series of four colossal, seated figures on the facade of Scottish Mutual Assurance Building, 103-13 St. Vincent Street, representing Security; Abundance; Wisdom and Victory (1911-12); their attribution to Hodge being made on the basis of their marked stylistic similarities to his other work in Glasgow and beyond.

A frequent collaborator on Hodge's major projects was his assistant Charles L J Doman (1884-1944), who completed the sculpture groups on the Port Of London Authority Building, Trinity Square, London, from sketch models which Hodge had left at his death in 1917, including its famous statue of Father Thames (1912-22).

His genre pieces, portraits and public sculpture include:

Boy and Goat (1908); the busts of his father A J Hodge (1900) and Ernest George (1905); and the statues of Robert Burns, Stirling (1914) and Captain Scott, Mount Wise, Devonport (1914-25).

Of national significance is his contribution to the Sir William Wallace Monument in Elderslie, Renfrewshire, for which he modelled the dramatic relief panels shortly before his death. The panels, however, remained uncast until the late 20th Century, when they were eventually completed in fibre-glass and affixed to the monument.

Hodge exhibited at RSA , 1897-1913, and was elected an FRBS . He died on 31st December, 1917.

His daughter, Jessie Mary Hodge, became a noted painter.

Sources:

  • A [Obit], 11 January, 1918;
  • Gray ;
  • Beattie ;
  • Dundee City Council website: http://www.dundeecity.gov.uk/photodb/wc1017.htm
  • Baker;
  • Jaques (2001), p. 58;
  • Kinchin & Kinchin (1988), pp. 55-93 (ills.);
  • Nisbet, letter to Mark O'Neill of Springburn Museum, June 1989 (Identifying Hodge as the sculptor at the North British Locomotive Company Offices);
  • Nisbet, in McKenzie (1999);
  • Nisbet, in McKenzie (2002);
  • Ward-Jackson (2003) Public Sculpture Of The City Of London, pp. 408-10 (ills), 458, 465;
  • Information from Caroline Gerard, email to Gary Nisbet, 20 January 2009;
 
Works in our Database:
#359 1: Argyle Street (Anderston),
Former Anderston Savings Bank, 752-6 Argyle Street
Figurines, Angels and Associated Decorative Carving (1899-1902)
Sculptor: AH Hodge;
Architects: J Salmon II and JG Gillespie; Mason: J Kirkwood
2: Castle Street (Townhead),
On the south façade of the Royal Infirmary, overlooking Cathedral Square
Monument to Queen Victoria (1914)
Sculptor: AH Hodge; Architect: J Miller
#100 3: Flemington Street (Springburn),
Former North British Locomotive Company Building,
110-36 Flemington Street
Allegorical Female Figures of Speed and Science,
with Associated Decorative Carving (1909)

Sculptor: AH Hodge; Architect: J Miller; Builders: P&W Anderson Ltd
4: Robertson Street (City Centre),
Clydeport Building,
16 Robertson Street, Broomielaw - Second Phase
Demeter Leading a Bull (1906-8)
Sculptor: AH Hodge; Architect: JJ Burnet; Builders: Alexander Muir & Sons
5: Robertson Street (City Centre),
Clydeport Building,
16 Robertson Street, Broomielaw - Second Phase
Amphirite with a Pair of Seahorses (1906-8)
Sculptor: AH Hodge; Architect: JJ Burnet; Builders: Alexander Muir & Sons
6: Robertson Street (City Centre),
Clydeport Building,
16 Robertson Street, Broomielaw - Second Phase
Thomas Telford (1906-8)
Sculptor: AH Hodge; Architect: JJ Burnet; Builders: Alexander Muir & Sons
7: Robertson Street (City Centre),
Clydeport Building,
16 Robertson Street, Broomielaw - Second Phase
James Watt (1906-8)
Sculptor: AH Hodge; Architect: JJ Burnet; Builders: Alexander Muir & Sons
8: Robertson Street (City Centre),
Clydeport Building,
16 Robertson Street, Broomielaw - Second Phase
Henry Bell and Apprentices (1906-8)
Sculptor: AH Hodge; Architect: JJ Burnet; Builders: Alexander Muir & Sons
9: Union Street (City Centre),
Caledonian Chambers, 75-95 Union Street
Caryatids, Atlantes and Associated Decorative Carving (1901-3)
Sculptor: AH Hodge; Architect: J Miller; Builder: P&W Anderson Ltd
 
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