Thursday, July 06, 2006

The Lover as hood ornament

Filling pages on the sculpture website can be tedious work -- but one of the joys is hearing from sculptors who appreciate my Herculean efforts -- like the English sculptor Robert Mileham whose work is found here

English sculpture is not exactly my cup of tea -- and Mr. Mileham is a proud scion of that tradition. But I've enjoyed many of the links that he sent -- especially the poignant story of the lover who became the official hood ornament for the Rolls Royce.

Apparently the sculptor Charles Sykes (1875-1950) moved in the social circle of a family involved in making that car, and was commissioned by one of them to design a statue of his secretary/lover whom decorum, alas, forbid him to marry -- offering him, instead, the opportunity to carry her beloved image around forever on the hood of his car.

The idea caught on -- and soon this poor lover became the cherished mascot for everyone who could afford to purchase this most elite of automobiles. How proud she must have been !

And --- not to disappoint the romantically inclined -- this story had a tragic ending -- for the two of them had booked passage to India during the First World War -- and their ship was sunk by a German U-Boat. (although in a reverse of Leonardo DiCaprio/Kate Winslet on the "Titanic", the "flying lady" went down with the ship while her rich boy friend survived) (more details available here)

Here are some versions of the "Flying Lady" -- and apparently, the figure was re-sized and re-modeled many times over its history:

The above pictures seem to be different views of the same statue -- but the following seems to be a re-designed, less vertical, simplified version that's more appealing to me. Now if only I could afford the rest of the automobile, I could share in the romance.


Anonymous marly said...

"But I'm not ambivalent about this one -- wow ! Handsome, naked young dude leading a horse -- what girl could ask for more?"

I would recognize that as your remark anywhere!

"English sculpture is not exactly my cup of tea."

I'm sure you've talked about this elsewhere--where?

Very interesting little tale! Cooperstown had a rich man on board the Titanic, so one hears tales about that family here...

January 30, 2007  
Blogger chris miller said...

The recognizable comment came from
"Taft on Modern German Sculpture" -- but I don't recall explaining why "English sculpture is not exactly my cup of tea." -- and since one of the few readers of my worthless blog is an English sculptor -- I may defer that explanation indefinitely.

Or ---- Oh -- what the hell -- I'll come up with a "Why I don't like English Sculpture" post next weekend.

January 30, 2007  

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