:: Sculpture click any image with a coloured border to enlarge.

It is unknown when Joy first experimented with sculpture, but it certainly pre-dates her first known pencil portrait of son Christopher in 1937.

It can be assumed that the first sculpture was a small ornament of a swan.

This exquisite piece is approximately 10cm in diameter and is cast from the original mould in alabaster. On the base it is enscribed "Joyce Black" and "Undine" [1], therefore dating this before her marriage to Gerald in 1933.




Following this, and on the same theme, a pair of bookends was produced in the shape of swans heads. Due to the similarity of the ornament and bookends it is entirely possible they were produced at around the same period.

As for the inspiration to create pieces based on Tchaikovsky's ballet Swan Lake, this is unknown.


What is fairly certain is the first bust produced was of Maisey Barnwell (known affectionately as "Barney") who was a life-long friend of her sister Mags. The sculpture [2] was created from wood and the original photograph of this piece is shown right.

To compare how well she captured Barney's features, the contemporary photograph of her (below, see note [3]) has been included. It is evident that Joy was experimenting not only with this new medium, but also with a radical style that is not present in her drawings.

Bust of Maisey Barnwell, c.1925

Rather than try to capture an exact representation of Barney, Joy accentuated the strong physical features that leans somewhat towards early Cubism in a style similar to that of Raymond Duchamp-Villon with his sculpture of Charles Baudelaire. It could also be argued that it is reminiscent of the smooth lines present in Art Nouveau, but certainly she appeared to have been influenced by trends towards modern art and wasn't afraid to experiment.

The whereabouts of the original sculpture isn't known, but please contact David Encill if you have any information.

Maisey (Barney) Barnwell

A later sculpture was of the Finzi's great friend, the composer Howard Ferguson. Once again the date of this sculpture is unknown, but must have been produced well before Joy's drawing of Ferguson in 1948 as he appears to have far more hair!

Four photographs were taken of the alabaster cast and can be seen in greater detail by clicking on the thumbnail (right). Another exists in a dark grey finish (indeterminate material).

Howard Ferguson sculpture




[1] 'Undine' was an unperformed opera composed by Tchaikovsky in 1869 that was destroyed. It is known that the love duet in Act 2 of Swan Lake is based on music from this opera. Source BalletNotes.

[2] The original black & white photo of the sculpture was colourised to simulate wood.

[3] From a technical standpoint, the photograph of the sculpture appears to have been taken by Elliott & Fry of 55, Baker Street, Portman Square, London, who achieved Royal Appointment.


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