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Montford, Paul Raphael (1868–1938)

Mr. Paul Raphael Montford, a leading figure in the realm of sculpture, died in a private hospital on Saturday night, after a brief illness. He was aged 69 years.

His last work was a figure for the New South Wales anniversary, and when he had completed this he complained of illness. He was taken to hospital a little more than a week ago.

The funeral will leave Sleight's St. Kilda road chapel at 11.30 a.m. to-day for the Springvale Crematorium.

Sir John Longstaff said yesterday that Mr. Montford's death was a severe blow to the world of art, softened to some extent by the many examples of his notable work which Australia possessed.

Not only was Australia fortunate in its possession of such works of Mr. Montford, but in England there were many fine examples also, executed before he came to Australia.

Mr. Montford was a very fine sculptor, well equipped, and deserving the high position he occupied in public estimation. It was particularly sad that his death should follow so soon on that of his fellow sculptor Mr. Raynor Hoff.

So well known was Mr. Montford, and such a high standard of art was sought, and found in his work, that it is difficult to single out any of his subjects for particular mention.

It was to his statue of Adam Lindsay Gordon, erected in Spring street, that the Royal Society of British sculptors awarded in 1934 its gold medal for the best sculpture of the year.

It is difficult to realise now that when Mr. Montford came to Australia in 1923, hoping to stimulate greater interest in sculpture, he had a bitter struggle to earn a livelihood.

It was not until he had collaborated with Mr. Philip Hudson, the architect, in the prize-winning design for the Shrine of Remembrance, that his worth was realised here, even though it had been recognised in Britain before he left. Mr. Montford designed the statuary groups, tympanic, and friezes of the shrine.

Among his notable works in Australia are the bronzes, the Water Nymph and Peter Pan, in Queen Victoria Gardens; the statue of Charles Wesley outside Wesley Church; and the Chaffey Memorial at Mildura.

In England he is represented by statuary groups on Battersea Town Hall and Northampton Institute, London; the Cardiff Law Courts and Municipal Building, and bridges at Charles street. Westminster, and the Kelvinway Bridge, Glasgow.

Mr. Montford was a son of Mr. Horace Montford, of London, himself a sculptor, but Mr. Paul Montford was intended to be a painter. It was only after some years of study as a painter that he decided on sculpture. Then he entered the Royal Academy schools, and proved his brilliance by becoming one of the most prolific prize winners who have passed through the schools.

Mr. Montford had one ambition in his sculpture – that he should not be classed as an eccentric. He aimed to portray the reality of his subject, and was not interested in grotesquerie. Accordingly, he abhorred the work and influence of Epstein.

He said that one of his greatest delights in Australia was that we had not reached that stage of decadence at which one found a thrill in the horrible and false. His work was done at the studio of his home in Bruce street, Toorak.

Mr. Montford leaves a widow, two daughters, aged 24 and 20 years, and a son aged 14 years.

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'Montford, Paul Raphael (1868–1938)', Obituaries Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, http://oa.anu.edu.au/obituary/montford-paul-raphael-7627/text35105, accessed 26 May 2019.

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