Type Sculpture , Shaft
The work consists of two parts; an obelisk with a statue mounted on top, and a four figured statue at ground level. They are free standing. The obelisk has a square fluted base and is 'streamlined', which was typical of the period. Its mounted figure is expressionist in style - formally treated to harmonise with the architectural form of the pylon. The four figure statue is realistic in style and ably composed and modelled, yet heavy in symbolism. The four-figure bronze statue consists of 'Industry' (front left) who is represented by a man holding a tool; 'Charity' (front middle) represented by a woman cradling a child; 'Education' (front right) represented by a male scholar with an open book, a page of which he points to; 'Art' (back) represented by a woman with a palette; 'Industry' is in the costume of a labourer, but other figures are more classically dressed. The figure on the top of the Obelisk ('inspiration') looks at the sky with raised arms, as the name might suggest. The memorial is facing away from his Lady Lever Art Gallery.
Mr. T.P. Bennett, writing in The Builder (1930) said of Reid Dick's piece, '...very strikingly modelled with rugged, vigorous lines reminiscent of the individuality of the founder of Port Sunlight...this work deserves the highest commendation and well displays a vigorous personality.'
The chairman of the Lever Brothers Company was approached and asked to form a committee in his own business for the purposes of obtaining contributions, and the scene was 'enthusiastically taken up.' Mr. W. Reid Dick R.A. was brought into the project in its early stages and discussions between himself and the committee led to the conclusion that the memorial should be symbolic of the main characteristics of the late Lord Leverhulme. His 'Power to inspire', led to the main figure being 'Inspiration' (on the top of the column). Leverhulme's other prominent attributes are those chosen for the bronze group in the forefront. At this stage, Reid Dick was set to work on the task.
Reid Dick was given a free hand to develop his own concept for the memorial figures. He admired Leverhulme's 'Genius' and 'Achievement' and used this to evolve the figure of 'inspiration'. Twenty-two thousand Lever Brothers employees throughout the world subscribed to the memorial in the memory of the company's founder and first chairman. The executive committee were charged with interpreting the wishes of the subscribers.
The unveiling ceremony was, according to report from 'Progress', serene; and that the monument's two parts are not alien to each other the setting. A huge crowd of friends, family and villagers were in attendance. The chairman of the Lever Brothers said that Reid Dick was'...one of the greatest British sculptors.' Mr. T. Peacock, a veteran, unveiled the memorial and the Rev. T. Webster dedicated it, saying '...he has produced for us a monument which not only is a beautiful work of art, but, as typifying the qualities of the late Lord Leverhulme, is wonderfully appropriate.' Lord Leverhulme accepted the memorial from the Chairman of the Memorial Committee.
According to a local source the inscription at the back of the obelisk base was added by Lever Brothers in response to local demand. It is interesting to note that it speaks of three great interests although there are four figures and, presumably by mistake, omits the fourth figure which represents art.
On the Obelisk base at the front: LEVERHULME/1851-1925/TO THE HONOURED MEMORY OF/WILLIAM HESKETH/FIRST VISCOUNT/LEVERHULME/FOUNDER OF LEVER BROTHERS LIMITED/ AND OF PORT SUNLIGHT./A MAN REMARKABLE FOR HIS/BUSINESS ABILITY. HIS PUBLIC/BENEFACTIONS AND HIS LOVE OF/BEAUTY AND ART. THIS MONUMENT/IS ERECTED BY HIS FELLOW WORKERS.
On the back of the Obelisk base:THE FIGURES AT THE BASE OF THE MEMORIAL SYMBOLISE THE THREE/GREAT INTERESTS IN THE LIFE OF THE FOUNDER OF PORT SUNLIGHT/INDUSTRY, EDUCATION/AND CHARITY IN ITS WIDEST MEANING/THE FIGURE AT THE TOP OF THE COLUMN REPRESENTS 'INSPIRATION'/THE FOUNDATION OF ALL HUMAN PROGRESS
PMSA recording information