Papers of Willi Soukop

Scope and Content

The archive documents Soukop's career in Austria through certificates for art courses, 1921-1932, and two photograph albums covering work made between 1926-1935. There is a scrapbook made during his time at Dartington that incorporates images of Soukop's work from the late 1930s and shows his exposure to European Modernism. Further material includes biographical listings and notes by Soukop and others; Soukop's writings about his time at Dartington Hall; correspondence, mainly related to commissions for public sculptures, 1940-1992; teaching notes and talks; invitations and dinner menus to functions at the Royal Academy and elsewhere, 1976-1993; press cuttings; exhibition catalogues; and other printed material.

Administrative / Biographical History

Born in Vienna of an Austrian mother and a Czech father. He became a student of drawing by night and an apprentice engraver by day. Soukop studied at the Academy of Fine Art, Vienna between 1928-34.In 1934 he was invited to work at Dartington Hall, near Totnes, Devon, by Leonard and Dorothy Elmhirst, which allowed him to escape the escalation of political and economic problems in Vienna. It was here that Soukop met the artist and gallery-owner Eardley Knollys, whose Storran Gallery gave Soukop his first one-person show in 1938.During the Second World War Soukop was interned as an enemy alien in Britain before being shipped off to Canada for 9 months.After the Second World War Soukop taught sculpture at Bromley School of Art (1945-46), Guildford School of Art (1945-47), and Chelsea School of Art (1947-72). This last post he held concurrently for three years with Master of Sculpture at the Royal Academy Schools (1969-82). Soukop was also a member of the British School in Rome Sculpture Faculty.He first exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1935 and attracted the attention and admiration of John Skeaping, Tom Monnington and Charles Wheeler. He was elected an Associate (ARA) in 1963 and a full member (RA) in 1969. Soukop received similar recognition from the Royal Society of British Sculptors becoming an Associate (ARBS) in 1958 and a Fellow in 1961 (FRBS). He received many commissions, both for portrait busts and larger pieces for public buildings, housing estates and schools.

Access Information

Available to all registered researchers. The Archive is open by appointment only

Other Finding Aids

The collection has not yet been catalogued. Please consult the HMI Archivist for further information.

Archivist's Note

This description was created by Janette Martin. Biographical was derived from the entry for 'Willi (Wilhelm Josef) Soukop', Mapping the Practice and Profession of Sculpture in Britain and Ireland 1851-1951, University of Glasgow History of Art and HATII, online database 2011 [, accessed 21 Oct 2015]

Related Material

Books, journals and exhibition catalogues belonging to Willi Soukop are kept in the HMI Library

For details of archive collections relating to Willi Soukop held elsewhere please consult the National Register of Archives.