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Hylas by Henry Alfred Pegram (1862-1937). Bronze. Completed 1922, and installed here in 1933. St John's Lodge Gardens, Regent's Park, London. Although Robert Sharp suggests that Pegram's "greatest successes came earlier rather than later in his career," this group is very striking — and indeed Sharp himself numbers it among his "notable 'ideal' works." It is beautifully and appropriately sited in the middle of the pool in these rather secluded gardens, easily missed by visitors to the main part of Regent's Park. Hylas was one of the Argonauts, a handsome youth loved by Hercules. He was sent to get water from a spring, but captured by the admiring water nymphs, never to be seen again (see Bullfinch 164).
Two details: The sculptor has caught the very moment of capture, as a nymph clasps the youth's legs, catching him almost off balance, and Hylas looks down over his shoulder in dismay. Pegram was often inspired by subjects associated with the water (cf. The Bather (1894), A Sea Idyll (1902), By the Waters of Babylon (1906). It seems that once he himself had only just escaped Hylas's fate, when he was saved from drowning in the sea at Sussex (see "Pegram, Henry Alfred"). Knowing this makes this particular sculpture seem all the more poignant.
Inscription on the base: The sculpture was presented to the nation by the Royal Academy of Arts, "through the Leighton Fund, 1933."
Bullfinch, Thomas. The Golden Age of Myth and Legend. Ware, Herts.: Wordsworth, 1993.
"Pegram, Henry Alfred." LARA. Web 16 July 2011.
St John's Lodge Gardens. London Gardens Online. Web 16 July 2011.
Sharp, Robert. "Pegram, Henry Alfred (1862-1937)." Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Online ed. Web 16 July 2011.
Last modified 16 July 2011