The following introduction to Tinworth's sculptural work comes from pages 22-24 of Marion Harry Spielmann's British Sculpture and Sculptors of Today (1901). Perhaps the most surprising fact about someone who appears a naif, untrained artist appears in Tinworth's winning medals at the Royal Academy Schools.

Mr. George Tinworth, though in his practice not a sculptor poperly so called, can hardly be omitted from some sort of companionship in view of the peculiar position he has taken in the estimation, not to say the affections, of a section of the public. Yet he had a sculptor's training when attending the Lambeth school in 1861, as well as at the Royal Academy schools in 1864, where he took medals both for "the Antique" and "the Life." The late Sir Henry Doulton took great interest in the talented lad, who, but for him, might have continued at his father's craft of wheelwright. Mr. Tinworth entered the Doulton Pottery Works in 1866 and received a very kindly encouragement, requiting it” by the individuality of his work and” by his success in the path he had struck out. In due course he gained awards for terra-cotta and stoneware at Vienna, in America, and in Paris.

Apart from the legitimate designs for pottery and the like, dramatic high-relief panels with numerous figures on a small scale have absorbed the energies of Mr. Tinworth. The popularity of these is out of all proportion to their sculptural merits; yet it cannot be denied that in the spirit that inspires them, and in the deep religious sentiment with which they overflow, there is ample justitication tor the public favour. Not for their art's sake, but for the vivid drama and intense passion with which the subjects are presented, they go straight to the heart of the devout or the unsophisticated spectator. They are often rugged in their force; naif, almost primitive, in their conception and handling; and so sincere that we are restrained from an occasional smile at the archaism and the treatment” by the perfect sincerity of the modeller. Here, indeed, is the art for which Tolstoy sighs, so simple and clear that none can fail of easy comprehension, so rude in execution that none can reproach the artist either with vanity, with a desire for technical display, or with that deterioration which comes from over refinement.

Left to right: (a) St John Ambulance Brigade Trophy. (b) Pulpit and (c) Reredos, both in St Alban's Church, Churchillparken, Copenhagen. (d) The History of England vase [Click on these images for larger pictures.]

The works are symbols rather than sculptures seriously to be reckoned amongst the art of the day; but they are the work of a man whose worth, elevated mind, and profound sentiment they proclaim; and it is to these qualities, as well as to a dramatic, if apparently untutored, sense that we must attribute the respect he commands in the religious world, and support the homage that he has found there. Puritanical, didactic,yet with something of the comedian about him, Mr. Tinworth has been cruelly called "The Spurgeon of Sculpture" — cruel alike to preacher and modeller, yet not without a substratum of truth.

The Hem of His Garment.

Among Mr. Tinworth's reliefs are the series of twenty-eight panels in the Guards' Chapel and the important works of the same character in York Minster, Wells Cathedral, and elsewhere. Besides church work there are the Manchester Park group, the four panels in St. Thomas's Hospital, and the Fawcett Memorial in Vauxhall Park. In Mr. Tinworth's own judgment his best achievement is the "Preparing for the Crucifixion." The relief here illustrated is a typical one, displaying its author's merit in the rendering of vivacions and pictorial drama, and his primitiveness of conception. With all its nuiltiplicity of figurines and its display of peasant art, it recalls the sculptures of the early German masters of wood-carving or the fervent work of the archaic Italians.

The Fine Art Society Story. Part I adds interesting details about Tinworth's early poverty:

Tinworth's talent's as a modeller and potter were recognised” by J. C. L. Sparkes, the headmaster at Lambeth School of Art, where Tinworth having pawned his overcoat to pay for his fees, studied pottery. After Tinworth's father's death, when he was struggling to support himself and his mother, Sparkes persuaded his friend Henry Doulton to employ Tinworth decorating pottery. The Fine Art Society published an illustrated book about his ceramic plaques in 1883 and rented space in Conduit Street to show his work which was too large to show at the New Bond Street Galleries.


Biblical Subjects


Cavanagh, Terry. Public Sculpture of the South London. Liverpool: Liverpool University Press. 2007.

The Fine Art Society Story. Part I. London: The Fine Art Society, 2001.

Gosse, [Edmund?]. A Critical essay on the Life and Works of George Tinworth. London: The Fine Art Society, 1883.

McKenzie, Ray, with contributions” by Gary Nisbet. Public Sculpture of Glasgow. Liverpool: Liverpool University Press, 2002.

Rose, Peter. George Tinworth. 1982.

Monkhouse, Cosmo. “Stories in Terra-Cotta.&rdquouse; Magazine of Art. 6 (1883): 340-44. Internet Archive version of a copy in the University of Toronto Library. Web. 5 September 2013. [Complete text in the Victorian Web]

Spielmann, Marion Harry. British Sculpture and Sculptors of Today. London: Cassell, 1901. Internet Archive. Web. 22 December 2011.

Last modified 7 November 2019