The Spring Street Statue

MONTFORD, PAUL  RAPHAEL (1868-1938 was born in London in 1868 and learned modelling from his father, Horace Montford. He studied at the Royal Academy schools and became internationally known.  He married a fellow artist, Marian Aglio Diblin, on 11 September 1912.  They emigrated to Australia with their family in 1923 in answer to an advertisement by the Australian Government  for sculptors to enter submissions for an ANZAC memorial to honour soldiers killed in Egypt, Palestine and Syria that was to be erected at Port Said.

Paul Montford arrived in early 1923 with his model sculpture for the competition and was optimistic about his chances, but he did not win. He then decided to take up a teaching post at the Gordon Technical Institute in Geelong. In 1925 he decided to move to Melbourne, to 20 Bruce Street, Toorak where he rented a colonial villa in poor repair and set up his studio on the ground floor with living quarters above. Montford’s involvement with the Shrine began in November 1922 with the announcement of a competition for the National War Memorial of Victoria.

The project did not really go ahead until on Anzac Day 1927 when a rousing speech by General Monash reinvigorated enthusiasm for the scheme. In November 1928 a standing design for a statue of Adam Lindsay Gordon had been accepted by that memorial committee, but later changed to a figure in a seated position. Walter David Webb posed in the chair for the correct seating position and George O. Ross Fenner who knew Gordon stood beside Montford as he worked to get the correct facial features. In July 1931 the completed model, cast in plaster, was displayed in the Athenaeum Gallery Melbourne together with paintings by Mr. Murray Griffin. The cost €1650.

The model was sent away for casting and in July 1932 Montford announced that it was on its way back to Australia and the statue was unveiled on 30 October 1932 in the northern end of the reserve next to the Victorian Parliament House, Melbourne. Charles Gordon “A kind of cousin of Adam” stands at the southern end. The Royal Society of British Sculptors awarded Paul its gold medal for the best work of the year. Montford was president of the Victorian Artists Society 1930-2.

Montford died after a short illness of leukemia on 15 January 1938 in Richmond, Victoria; he was survived by his wife and two daughters and a son. His ashes were scattered in the woods at Leatherhead, Surrey, England.

Wikipedia; Shrine of Remembrance, Melbourne; Sunday Times Perth  Sun 5 July 1931 p7; Dibdin/Guise Family History;; John & Jan Martyn; Augusta Stylianou Gallery;

The Life and Best Poems of Adam Lindsay Gordon. Douglas Sladen; The Age Tues 3 Nov 1931 p8.