Oscar Nemon's Portrait of Sir Karl Parker unveiled

by Aurelia Young, daughter of Oscar Nemon

The event was attended by the children and grandchildren of both Sir Karl Parker and Oscar Nemon. Dr. Alexander Sturgis, Director of the Ashmolean Museum, performed the unveiling ceremony (fig.1).

Croatian-born sculptor, Oscar Nemon settled in Oxford in 1938, where he established his practice with the support from Sir Karl Parker and others, before later moving to Boars Hill.

Sir Karl Parker (1895-1992) CBE, FBA, was Keeper of the Department of Fine Art at the Ashmolean from 1934 and later Keeper of the Ashmolean until he retired in 1962. He was the creator of the Western Art Print Room which is where the bronze sculpture stands, as if he is welcoming the researchers who visit the room to view the Old Master drawings. 

Nemon depicted Sir Karl with his lapel raised on one side as this is how he shielded his match from the wind when he lit his cigarette after a busy day at the Ashmolean.

The bronze sculpture was donated to the Ashmolean Museum by the Nemon family, in memory of Oscar’s son Falcon, to replace the plaster cast of Sir Karl Parker which had stood there since the 1960s (fig.2). The Ashmolean Museum holds a number of works in bronze and plaster and drawings on paper by Oscar Nemon, donated by the Nemon Estate in 2003 also in memory of Falcon Nemon Stuart.

Alexander Kader, Head of European Sculpture and Works of Art at Sotheby’s, London, and grandson of Sir Karl (who was sometimes known as, and often signed articles ‘KTP’) adds:

Sir Karl Parker’s grandchildren are all very grateful to Dr Xa Sturgis, Dr Timothy Wilson and the Ashmolean for the honour they showed to our KTP more than 50 years after he retired as director of the museum. We feel fortunate that our grandfather lived until he was 96 years old and played an important part in our childhood. For me he certainly inspired my decision to enter the world of art. However, conscious that I could never hope to match his pre-eminence in the world of Old Master drawings, I have been lucky enough to forge a rewarding career in the world of sculpture, guided by KTP’s dedication to the world of Old Master drawings.

Main image: Dr. Alexander Sturgis unveiling the bronze half-length portrait of Sir Karl Parker at the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford (photo: courtesy of Aurelia Young)

Aurora Corio