Papers of Gilbert Bayes

Scope and Content

The collection is centred on a set of over 700 photographs, lantern slides, glass plate negatives and other reproductions of Bayes' work made during the period c.1890-1953. They include a variety of prints ranging from the artist's contemporary photographs to colour prints that record sculptures, often in situ, many taken after Bayes' death. A number of the black and white prints have been hand-coloured by the artist to indicate colour schemes that he used. There is also a set of portrait photographs of Bayes. Further material includes eight albums of press cuttings and postcards which were used as source material; a small amount of correspondence with drawings and architectural plans relating to the Newfoundland National War Memorial, 1943-1953; and twenty-four other works on paper including early drawings and illustrations, a woodcut trade card, technical plans for sculpture and eight photocopies of drawings of reliefs for the Royal Bank of Scotland. There is a range of printed material and press cuttings relating to Bayes' commissions and a gold medal certificate from the Salon of the Société des Artistes Français, Paris, 1939.

Administrative / Biographical History

Gilbert Bayes was born in London in 1872. Bayes was one of a family of painters. His father, Alfred Walter Bayes (1832-1909), was a painter and etcher, and his two brothers Walter Bayes (1869-1956) and Jessie Bayes (1878-1970) were also painters.

Bayes began his career working in London for a firm of tie and cravat merchants. He then went on to study art at Finsbury Technical College from 1891 to 1896, followed by the Royal Academy Schools until 1899. On Bayes graduation, he won the Royal Academy gold medal and travelling scholarship in and travelled to Paris and it was during this scholarship that his bronze relief of 'Jason Ploughing the Acre of Mars' (1900) received an honourable mention at the Universal Exposition in 1900.

Bayes was a prolific sculptor who worked on a small scale as a medallist, as well as creating large monuments and statues. He was also a highly accomplished designer and created a wide range of objects including chessmen, caskets, cabinets, and mirrors. Many of Bayes sculptures incorporated colourful techniques and he also utilised materials such as mosaic, enamel, and glazes alongside more traditional sculptural materials like bronze. During the 1920s and 1930s he expanded his range of materials to include Doulton's polychrome stoneware, concrete and artificial stone. A work that could be considered as one of Bayes' most prominent and best known works is the 'Queen of Time' clock at Selfridges, London (1930).

Bayes was a prominent member of the Art Workers Guild and also held the role of president of the Royal Society of British Sculptors between 1939 and 1944.

Access Information

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

Other Finding Aids

A finding aid is available for consultation in the HMI archive searchroom

Archivist's Note

Archives Hub description was created by Katie Gilliland

Biographical information from 'Gilbert William Bayes HRI, PRBS', 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 19 Nov 2015]

Related Material

"Commemorative Medal for the Launching of the Queen Mary", 1936 in the collection of Leeds City Art Gallery.