‘Allies’ sculptor Lawrence Holofcener reveals how he sat in front of his own famous work to create maquettes

Thursday, 25th April 2013

One of the new replicas

Published: 25 April, 2013
by RICHARD OSLEY

THE sculptor who created the famous Allies sculpture in the West End has revealed how he went to Bond Street with clay and tools to make copies of his own work to sell to collectors.

Lawrence Holofcener told how former Hampstead art gallery owner Gillian Catto had convinced him to sell maquettes of the work, a sculpture of Sir Winston Churchill talking to Franklin D. Roosevelt on a bench.

Normally, maquette models are made before a sculptor works on the final piece.

But Mr Holofcener told auctioneers Bonhams that he had not made any beforehand because he was “impetuous” and so had to spend five days in front of his own work making quarter-sized replicas.

One of the 50 exclusive replicas he made will go under the hammer on May 29 at Bonhams and is expected to fetch at least £25,000. Full-size copies go for six figure sums.

The Allies sculpture was at one time positioned outside the Catto Gallery, founded by Gillian Catto, in Heath Street.

Mr Holofcener, 87, said: “Allies sat on Bond Street for several years until Gill Catto asked me for a maquette thinking to sell them. It didn’t exist, I told her.

"She asked if I would consider creating one, marketing an edition of 50. I thought she would be lucky to sell two or three, then Gill’s husband offered to buy one.”

He added: “I modelled two unclothed clay figures and paused, stumped: how was I to create an exact quarter-life-size without having my life-size in front of me?

"Simple: Julia (the sculptor’s wife) and I drove to Bond Street from our Isle of Wight home, plus table, tools, clay and the little bench. We set it all before the life-size sculpture and I got to work.”

The sculptor said he was questioned by passers-by.

He was asked: “Are you an art student?” (He’d say: “Do I look like a student?”)

“Have you got the artist’s permission?” (“The artist is dead.”)

“How about the City of Westminster?” (“I’ll be gone before they catch me.”)

“After four to five days of work and chatter I was finished and to date almost 40 have been sold. So much for my two or three.”

Ms Catto passed the gallery, which still bears her name, to two employees, Imogen Green and Iain Barratt, in 2009.

The Allies in Bond Street, a gift from the Bond Street Association to mark 50 years of peace, was unveiled in 1995 by Princess Margaret. It is now a favourite photo point for tourists in the West End.

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