Memorial Brass

The Waller Brass

ca.1850 (made)

J.G. & L.A.B. Waller

Length: 2794 mm, Width: 157.48 mm, Depth: 15.748 mm

M.15-1987 MET

Memorial Brass, (The Waller Brass), engraved, London, made by J.G & L.A.B. Waller, ca.1850

Brass, engraved and filled with coloured composition, set in a slab of black, Belgian marble. In the form of a monumental brass engraved and filled with coloured composition designed in the Gothic style set within an architectural frame and mounted on a rectangular slab of black marble. The composition consists of a central female figure holding a book and offering flowers in her right hand, with a seated greyhound at her feet looking up at her. The figure is set within an architectural canopy with patterned floor of brass heightened with black, against a background of indented quatrefoils filled with red composition, and with formalised plants: above the head is an arcaded nimbus powdered with stars, filled with blue composition; above is a pointed arch divided into panels filled with foliage on green composition; the central panel contains a figure representing the Good Samaritan set in blue composition with a ground of small crosses: the borders are formed of a repeating pattern of formalised flowers set in red composition, the edges decorated with running foliage. Rising upwards from the edge are two groups of figures taken from Psalm XCV.10 with the apex containing a group representing Charity. The sides of the brass are formed as architectural shafts with grounds of red, green, blue and black composition, the subjects contained therein represent the Act of Mercy and are taken from Matt'. XXV 35, 36, the texts reading "I hungered and you gave me meat, a stranger and ye took me in; sick and ye visited me; thirsty and ye gave me drink; naked and ye clothed me; in prison and ye came unto me". The shafts terminate in three pinnacles on the left, the central panel containing the figure of an angel with a label reading Mercy, on the right a corresponding figure with a label reading Peace.

Many of us have seen and admired medieval brasses which adorn the floors of parish churches in Britain, but we are less likely to have noticed their successors, the Victorian memorial brasses. Many are of great historical interest, as well as being attractive and artistically distinguished, and capable of standing alongside the best products of the art of the Gothic Revival. Ranging from figures under resplendent canopies to simple inscription plates, Victorian brasses frequently commemorate distinguished men and women of the day - architects, soldiers, an American President and members of the aristocracy, as well as a very large number of clergymen. This magnificent brass was made for the Great Exhibition of 1851 by the Wallers, and subsequently used as a memorial to the engraver's mother, sister and a friend, Sarah Hornby. Under the canopy of `enriched pointed architecture' is a female figure with a greyhound at her feet. In the side shafts are subjects from the six works of mercy, based on Matthew 25:35-6, and in the centre of the canopy is a representation of the Good Samaritan. The canopy closely resembles that of the brass to Sir Hugh Hastings, 1347, at Elsing, Norfolk.

This brass was made for the Great Exhibition of 1851 by the Wallers, then used as a memorial to the engraver's mother, sister and a friend, Sarah Hornby. It is described in the 1851 Exhibition Catalogue as "Executed design for a monumental brass to form part of an altar tomb". It was supplied by Messrs Waller 13 Howland Street, Fitzroy Square, London. The brass is based upon that of Sir Hugh Hasting's, 1347 at Elsing, Norfolk. John Green Waller (1813-1905) was an artist, antiquary and brass engraver. He entered the Royal Academy Schools and became a specialist in the design of painted glass and memorial brasses. According to the vendor, the brass was acquired from Pitt House Schools, Torquay, Devon.

Location: In Storage

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