London: Artists and Subjects, Portraits: British 20th C, Sculpture, South East England: Artists and Subjects 15 Who is the sitter in this bronze by or attributed to Elsie March?

Topic: Subject or sitter

The Bromley collection has some good sculpture by or attributed to Elsie March, who had local connections, see the Wiki entry This sitter's monogram on the plinth looks 'artistic' or perhaps literary: does it, or his looks, suggest an identity?

Pieter van der Merwe, Maritime Subjects, Entry reviewed by Art UK


Elsie March and her artist siblings lived for many years at 'Goddendene' in Locksbottom, Farnborough, about four miles south-east of Bromley. This bust is signed and dated 1931 and is described by the collection as a plaster. It appears to me to be a commission from either an institution, or perhaps by the sitter's family, to commemorate a man who may well have died a year or two prior to 1931. Hence the presence of the monogrammed initials on the plinth which could be WAC or some variation in order of those letters. On checking Elsie March's exhibits at various venues I couldn't locate a title which had a reasonable match to this piece. So perhaps an unexhibited commission and the finished bronze is sitting in another collection, possibly a family collection?

Peter Nahum,

That is the monogram of Alfred W Cooper (died 1901). It cannot be anything to do with him as it is a later date. just for information

Kieran Owens,

Peter, could you point to an illustrated example of Cooper's monogram?

Jacinto Regalado,

Why is this "attributed to " Elsie March when it is signed by her (image #7)?

British Artists 1880-1940, Antique Collectors' Club by J. Johnson and A. Greutzner indicates that March exhibited 97 works at the Royal Society of British Artists and became an RBA in 1932. I can't see these catalogues online from a cursory look around, but maybe others might know more. I have returned to the Curator at Bromley to reaffirm that they have nothing within their records where the letters 'A', 'C' and 'W' appear together in a potentially encouraging way.

Mark Wilson,

Not only is this clearly signed by Elsie March as Jacinto pointed out, it also appears to dated to 1951, though the final digit might be a little uncertain due to other markings.

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Could be entire coincidence, but an Alfred William Carter on Ancestry [attached] was married in Bromley 1900, born 1879. Is this a man in his early 50s though? Fairly common name too. No connection to March except Bromley at first sight.

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The Alfred Ward Carter referred to above was born in 1872 and was described as a 'retired art teacher'. We know from the RBA records that an 'Alfred Carter' and 'A W Carter' sat for Elsie March in the early to mid 1930s. The Alfred Ward Carter of Somerleyton, Keston, moved to Yorkshire in the late 1930s and died in 1954. In the 1901 Census he was recorded as living in Sculcoates in Yorkshire and his occupation was given as 'artist sculptor'. In the 1911 census he was living at Somerleyton, Keston, and was described as an art teacher. He moved to Yorkshire in the late 1930s and died in 1954.

Given the RBA entries of 1932 and 1935, and a probable date for the piece of 1931 (so it might be that shown in 1932) Alfred Ward Carter, sculptor and art teacher (1872-1954) sounds a circumstantially practical possibility. Keston and Bromley are not far apart: I assume 'Somerleyton' was a house name (the place is in Suffolk and Somerleyton Hall quite well known for various reasons). Better some possibility than 'unknown'.

I have been looking for a connection between Elsie March and Alfred Ward Carter and I now realise that they were both from Kingston-Upon-Hull (Sculcoates is a suburb) and that the Carter and March families both moved to the Farnborough area of Kent prior to 1911. As Mr Carter was a sculptor too I wonder whether he worked with them at Goddendene, Locksbottom. It appears he lived less than a mile away. Does the collection have any information on the March family associates?

Marcie Doran,

Please see this article from the Newsroom at the Pocklington Post on A.W. Carter, dated May 13, 2021: “The history column with The High Wolds Heritage Group member Keith Holtby: The search for A.W. Carter paintings to complete a comprehensive record”:

Note that it states: “Acklam was very fortunate in having a man of Mr Carter’s calibre, originally from Little Horton, Bradford, he was for 30 years Art Master at St Dunstan’s in London.”

I have attached the 1911 England Census record and the 1939 England and Wales Register record for Alfred Ward Carter, as per the comments of Grant Waters. Mr. Carter’s wife was Lucy Thornton Carter (née Smurthwaite) (1877-1965). The 1911 record indicates that Mr. Carter was “Art Master of St. Dunstan’s College”.

Kieran Owens,

According to the Yorkshire Post and Leeds Intelligencer of Saturday 29th December 1951, Alfred Ward Carter, son of Mr. & Mrs. Bennett Carter, of Bradford and Heysham, married Lucy Thornton Smurthwaite at Holy Trinity Church, Hull, on the 30th December 1901. On the 30th December 1951, from their address at Beck House, Acklam, Malton, they celebrated their Golden (50th) Wedding anniversary. A. W. Carter died at Beck House on the 27th February 1954.

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