CHRIST BLESSING THE LITTLE CHILDREN
Life-size sculpture depicting Jesus and three children. Jesus is seated, two of the children are standing either side of him, and an infant is asleep at his feet. His left hand is placed on the head of the child offering him a flower.
Sculpture was the gift of R. D. Darbyshire, one of the trustees responsible for the dispensing the large fortune that Sir Joseph Whitworth left to Manchester. The fortune was used principally to establish the Whitworth Institute for Art in Grove House on Oxford Road. Some £70,000 was also used to purchase and transform the adjoining rough fields into Whitworth Park. The sculptor was George Tinworth (1843-1913) of the Royal Doulton Works, Lambeth. Tinworth was an accomplished modeller and sculptor who became particularly well known for his sculptures on biblical themes including "Preparing for the Crucifixion" and "Gethsemane". For the Manchester commission he took as his subject the text, 'Let the little children come unto me'. The completed work was installed close to the centre of the recently opened Whitworth Park in May 1895. It found favour with the late-Victorian Manchester press; one publication commenting: 'The children are charming in pose and expression, and the figure of Christ, if somewhat conventional, is still eminently pleasing and conveys an impression of tenderness in admirable keeping with the incident.' The sculpture - referred to variously as "Jesus and the Children", "Christ and the Children" and "Christ Blessing the Little Children" - was a popular feature of the park, appearing on postcards and remembered by visitors. In the early years of the Second World War the terracotta sculpture was damaged - whether by a barrage balloon or vandals is unclear - and removed from the park. It was not repaired and it is presumed to have been discarded.
Jesus blessing children
Inscription: JESUS SAID / "LET THE LITTLE CHILDREN COME / UNTO ME AND FORBID THEM NOT, FOR / OF SUCH, IS THE KINGDOM OF HEAVEN".
AS A CHILD JESUS GREW IN WISDOM AND STATURE, AND IN FAVOUR WITH GOD AND MAN.
JESUS SAID / "BLESSED ARE THE PEACEMAKERS: / THEY SHALL BE / CALLED THE CHILDREN OF GOD".
DEDICATED TO NEIGHBOURS AND CHILDREN,
MANCHESTER WHITWORTH INSTITUTE MAY 1895
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