The first biography of sculptor Oscar Nemon (1906–1985), the unknown artist behind some of Britain’s most iconic statues.
Oscar Nemon was born into a family of lower-middle class Jews, in a small town in modern-day Croatia. Less modest than his humble beginnings was his talent for classical sculpture, his native ability to project a psychological portrait onto clay, his wit, charm and ambition. As a young man he began travelling around Europe, exhibiting his work, presenting himself before the great and good of twentieth century society in order to sculpt them. In the face of rising anti-semitism, Nemon found refuge in Britain. There his reputation as a sculptor grew, recommended from one celebrity to another, until by the end of his life, his list of sitters included Sigmund Freud, Margaret Thatcher, Presidents Truman and Eisenhower, the Queen and, most famously, Winston Churchill, whose imposing bronze figure guards the entrance to the Members' Lobby in the Palace of Westminster.
Daughter of Nemon, Aurelia Young, and author Julian Hale together reveal the fascinating stories behind these artistic and personal encounters: how the Queen came to know him as the 'missing Oscar'; how Nemon became the subject of Churchill's only attempt at sculpture. In searching for Nemon, Young uncovers a father who rose above the prejudice of his being Jewish and foreign to establish himself as one of the most celebrated sculptors of the twentieth century. Finding Nemon, the first biography of Oscar Nemon to appear in English, richly illustrated and beautifully presented, finally brings the sculptor out from the shadow of his work.
‘I greatly admire the art of Mr Oscar Nemon, whose prowess in the ancient classical realm of sculpture has won such remarkable appreciation in our country.’ – Winston Churchill
'What mattered to him was to find the complex nature of the 'anima' of his sitters, the secrets of their inner selves, and intimations of their destinies, and then to make the inner image, as it were, shape the visible outlines of the portrait. For Nemon, Winston Churchill symbolized greatness of character as a bulwark against inhumanity - this was the mainspring of Nemon's message, as expressed in the numerous busts and statues of Churchill now in many lands. The long span of his life was immensely rich in vicissitudes, experiences, adventures, wanderings, mysteries and revelations. In his sphere he was supreme and his work has a secure place for all time.’ – Albi Rosenthal
AURELIA YOUNG is the daughter of Oscar Nemon. She grew up wandering in and out of her father’s studios at the family home in Oxford and later in London. Since his death in 1985, she has been researching her father’s life and has given talks about him in the USA, Paris, Brussels, Israel and all over the UK. Young is still hoping to track down many of Oscar Nemon’s missing works, including the busts of King George VI and the film star Leslie Howard. She married George Young in 1964, an MP for forty-one years and now Lord Young of Cookham.
JULIAN HALE is a journalist and author of several works of fiction and non-fiction. Between 1968 and 1973 he was a BBC World Service producer, script writer and programme organiser of the Romanian and Italian services, and between 1978 and 2000 a documentary and features producer for Radios 3 and 4 .
|Date Published||September 2018|