Richard Warren

20thc British art and poetry (mainly), plus bits of my own – "Clearly I tap to you clearly along the plumbing of the world" (W S Graham)

The invisible sculpture of Annesley Tittensor

Wolverhampton Art Gallery currently has a semi-permanent exhibition (till January 2012) of work by luminaries of the Wolverhampton School of Art in its various incarnations between 1850 and 1970. The prevailing feel, as is only to be expected, is competent, distinguished, but bland, and until we get to one or two of the most recent items it’s hard to detect any impact of Modernism. In the 3-D, the dominant feel is that of establishment sculptor Sir Charles Wheeler, alleviated a little by the slightly Deco classicism of Robert Jackson Emerson. All a bit Royal Academy. But then there’s this –

Dharana (in yoga, a state of concentration) is a slender 70 cm wood carving, dated to 1936, by the mysterious Annesley Tittensor. Compared with everything else around it, this is self-consciously of its time. The curved, extended neck, and the tilt of the elongated oval of the face show clearly the influence of Modigliani, maybe even a hint of Brancusi, and behind that an awareness of non-European art. The very economical attention to the draperies of the clothing relieves the overall minimalism, as do the curls of the hair, though to my mind these are a small but unnecessary concession to the decorative. But anyway, this is a beautiful piece, and the stock gallery image doesn’t do it justice. Neither do my phone-snaps, but they may help to give a fuller idea.

But what do we know of Annesley Tittensor? Remarkably little. Googling his rather splendid name will give you the info on this one sculpture, plus a single source at Glasgow Uny’s “Mapping the Practice and Profession of Sculpture in Britain and Ireland 1851-1951database. Born in 1916, he studied under Emerson at Wolverhampton from 1935, proving an “exceptional” student, and went on to the Royal in 1938, graduating in 1940. After the war he was still in London, and had one piece (“Angel Musician”) accepted at the RA in 1948. Later he returned to the West Midlands to teach at Walsall School of Art. He died in 1991. That’s about it. On the strength of this piece, you’d expect Tittensors to be lying about all over the place. So where are they? And are they as good as this?

Follow-up page to this, with many more images of Anneseley Tittensor’s work, here, or click on “A better view” above.

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3 responses to “The invisible sculpture of Annesley Tittensor

  1. Rose September 12, 2011 at 7:26 pm

    Annesley Tittensor was my dad – you are welcome to email me about him – he was a very much loved teacher and father and his work was quite outstanding

  2. richardawarren September 13, 2011 at 7:29 pm

    Rose, that’s marvellous. Email on the way. Thank you.

  3. Frances Ablitt March 4, 2016 at 2:17 pm

    My mother (Joyce Law) was a contemporary of Annesley at Wolverhampton and I have a portrait bust he did of her. Apparently they were very good friends but went separate ways at the outbreak of war.

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