‘Psyche’ by Francis Derwent Wood, bronze, ca. 1908-1919 at The Victoria and Albert Museum, London

‘Psyche’ by Francis Derwent Wood, bronze, ca. 1908-1919 at The Victoria and Albert Museum, London


In this episode, we’ll be taking a closer look at a stunning bronze called ‘Psyche’ by Francis Derwent Wood which is at The Victoria and Albert Museum in London. Welcome to Art, Culture & Books with me, Anthony King.

As always, I take all the photos and videos myself on location, ensuring you get an up-close and personal view of the fascinating world of art and culture. I’ll be popping in and out with commentary as this video progresses but for now let’s take a close up look.

Francis Derwent Wood embarked on the creation of “Psyche” around 1908–1919, initially unveiling this allegorical masterpiece as a plaster work at the Royal Academy in 1908. As a representation of the soul, the sculpture drew inspiration from the Italian Renaissance and contemporary French sculpture, showcasing Wood’s adeptness at merging classical aesthetics with modern sensibilities.

Wood, born in 1871, was a sculptor renowned for his ability to infuse emotion into his creations. He played a prominent role in the New Sculpture movement, prevalent in British sculpture between 1880 and 1910.

Among Wood’s collection of female nudes, the sculpture portraying Psyche as an allegorical figure symbolizing the soul stands out. Initially showcased as a plaster rendition at the Royal Academy in 1908, Wood eventually crafted this bronze version of this evocative figure.

“Psyche” stands as a pivotal example of New Sculpture, capturing a captivating blend of timeless elegance and the socio-cultural complexities of the early 20th century. The bronze masterpiece could reflect the turbulent times leading up to World War I, encapsulating the fragility of peace and the contemplative spirit that often precedes significant historical shifts. Wood’s own life mirrored the upheavals of the era, and “Psyche” might even be said to serve as both a personal and societal reflection.

Wood’s “Psyche” characterized by its expressive naturalism and indebtedness to Italian Renaissance and French sculptural traditions stands tall and the Victoria and Albert museum have placed it in a very high position.