The Blacksmiths' Forge. Sculptor: Benjamin Creswick. 1886. Terracotta. This relief is currently on display at the "John Ruskin: The Power of Seeing" exhibition at Two Temple Place, London, 26 January-22 April 2019, which kindly allows selective photography.

Like the iron relief of blacksmiths at work in a forge c.1880, this seems to be the same design as one that Creswick used in the central panel of a bronze mantelpiece” by Arthur Heygot Mackmurdo illustrated in the 1880 Studio. In that case, it must have been modelled later in terracotta, as well as cast in the earlier bronze and iron versions. It is interesting to compare the effects of the different materials. In general, terracotta produces a less defined finish (though the face of the young lad is clearly shown), but it has a warmer, more natural feel.

Incidentally, it is not surprising that Creswick should return to the same design: Annie Dawson Creswick calls the forge his "signature image" (40), and also points out that he likes to juxtapose the stooped and weary-faced older worker with the vigorous young one, showing realistically the toll that such hard manual work takes on the human frame and spirit (see p. 37). [Click on the image to enlarge it.]

Photograph, formatting and text by Jacqueline Banerjee. [You may use this image without prior permission for any scholarly or educational purpose as long as you (1) credit the photographer and (2) link your document to this URL in a web document or cite it in a print one.]

Related Material


Dawson, Annie Creswick, with Paul Dawson. Benjamin Creswick. York: The Guild of St George Publications, 2015 [Review].

Vallance, Aymer. "Mr. Arthur H. Mackmurdo and the Centrury Guild." The Studio. 16 (1899): 183-92. Illustrated p. 185.

Created 8 February 2019