ALFRED STEVENS BICENTENARY
2017 marks the bicentenary of the birth of Alfred Stevens (1817-1875), the Blandford-born renowned artist, designer and sculptor. He was born in 1817, the son of a decorator and joiner. At the age of ten, he entered his father's workshop as an assistant. Recognising his artistic talent, the Rector of Blandford, the Hon Rev Samuel West, sponsored Alfred to go to Italy in 1833. Although he was only sixteen when he left, he travelled widely there and developed a passion for Italian art.
After returning home in 1842, Stevens was given a tutorship at the New School of Design at Somerset House.
A significant body of his work is held by the Tate Gallery, but his crowning achievement is the Memorial to the Duke of Wellington in St Paul’s Cathedral.
Our May 2017 Monthly Meeting featured a talk by Dr Dennis Wardleworth on Stevens. It was an extremely interesting and informative talk, greatly enjoyed by those who came along.
Additionally, to commemorate Stevens and bring this often overlooked artist into the public eye, BAS sponsored and co-organised two events in Autumn 2017 in conjunction with the Blandford Town Museum:-
- A unique exhibition of drawings by Stevens, based on material held by Blandford Town Museum and augmented by other original sketches on loan from the Drury Collection, was on display in the Museum for the first time, from 1 August through to 31 October, Monday to Saturday, 10.00am-4.00pm (see poster below). Admission free. There was also an Exhibition Preview on Friday, 28 July: 5.00-8.00pm, which many attended and enjoyed.
- A talk in Blandford Corn Exchange by author and architectural historian, Dr Teresa Sladen, was held on Saturday, 23 September: 7.30pm, entitled 'Alfred Stevens - From Blandford to Italy and Back'. Dr Sladen is an authority on Stevens and is currently writing a book about him. Approximately 70 people attended and heard much new and fascinating detail of Stevens' travels in Europe, his friends, supporters, and the artworks he produced at this time, supplemented by a visual presentation of relevant images.