Draped woman sculpture


Heritage Category:
Listed Building
List Entry Number:
Date first listed:
Statutory Address:
North Verbena Gardens, Great West Road, Hammersmith, London, W6 9AH


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Statutory Address:
North Verbena Gardens, Great West Road, Hammersmith, London, W6 9AH

The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

Greater London Authority
Hammersmith and Fulham (London Borough)
Non Civil Parish
National Grid Reference:


'Draped woman', a sculpture executed in cast concrete, of c1959 by Karel Vogel, situated in an open space off the Great West Road, adjacent to St Peter’s Church, Hammersmith.

Reasons for Designation

Karel Vogel’s c1959 'Draped woman' sculpture, situated in an open space off the Great West Road, adjacent to St Peter’s Church, Hammersmith, is listed at Grade II for the following principal reasons: * Artistic interest: an ambitious figure sculpture whose cantilevered composition challenges the stability and equilibrium of the classical tradition; * Historic interest: an early commission of the London County Council’s Patronage of the Arts scheme, unusually commissioned to provide visual amenity in compensation for a major road scheme; * Group value: with the Grade II* listed St Peter’s Church.


The period after 1945 saw a shift from commemorative sculpture and architectural enrichment to the idea of public sculpture as a primarily aesthetic contribution to the public realm. Sculpture was commissioned for new housing, schools, universities and civic set pieces, with the counties of Hertfordshire, London and Leicestershire and the new towns leading the way in public patronage. Thus public sculpture could be an emblem of civic renewal and social progress. By the late C20 however, patronage was more diverse and included corporate commissions and Arts Council-funded community art. The ideology of enhancing the public realm through art continued, but with divergent means and motivation.

Visual languages ranged from the abstraction of Victor Pasmore and Phillip King to the figurative approach of Elisabeth Frink and Peter Laszlo Peri, via those such as Lynn Chadwick and Barbara Hepworth who bridged the abstract/representational divide. The post-war decades are characterised by the exploitation of new – often industrial – materials and techniques including new welding and casting techniques, plastics and concrete, while kinetic sculpture and ‘ready mades’ (using found objects) demonstrate an interest in composite forms.

In 1956, the London County Council (LCC) launched a Patronage of the Arts scheme, setting aside an annual budget of £20,000 for commissioning and acquiring works with the advice of the Arts Council. Over the following eight years approximately 50 artworks were sited in housing estates, schools and other public buildings. One of the first suggested sites, in May 1955, was on Cromwell Road, where the LCC was taking land from St Peter’s Church for a new section of the Great West Road. The 1957-8 programme included Karel Vogel’s 'Draped woman' sculpture.

The sculpture, in cast concrete, took over a year to complete and was one of his last works. A half-size model was shown in a 1962 retrospective exhibition under the title 'God's Speed'. It was reported in the journal ‘Studio’ that: 'Vogel’s intention was to create a figure that would link the church and square in neo-classical calm with the swiftness of the fast modern world. It is nearly twice life size and unites traditional forms fitting the surroundings with the dynamic of modern traffic. The Sculpture expresses his intention in a floating movement, repeating the curve of the road and taking up the slope of the opposite subway' (cited in Pereira 2008, chapter 4).

The sculptor and teacher Karel Vogel (1897–1961) was born in the Czech Republic (then part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire) in 1897 and studied at Prague, Munich and Vienna. He worked primarily as a portrait sculptor in Prague from 1924, showing at the Venice Biennale, and arrived in England in 1938. His pre-war work is conventionally classical in the manner of Aristide Maillol, such as 'Klara' of 1939, which was exhibited in the first Battersea Park show of 1948 and later installed outside the South London Art Gallery in Peckham Road. Vogel taught at the LCC Camberwell School of Arts and Crafts, becoming principal of the sculpture school, a position which explains how several LCC commissions followed. His commissions include three large reliefs for the 'Pavilion of Power and Production' at the 1951 Festival of Britain; works for schools at Hoddesdon in Hertfordshire and Albrighton and Moreton Hall in Shropshire; and the group 'Torsos', acquired by the Harlow Art Trust in 1955. The later works, such as 'Torsos' and 'Draped woman', are more roughly moulded and more expressive.


'Draped woman', sculpture in cast concrete, of c1959 by Karel Vogel, situated in an open space off the Great West Road, adjacent to St Peter’s Church, Hammersmith.

The sculpture depicts a semi-nude, idealised female figure with braided hair in the classical manner, seated but with the upper torso reclining sideways on folded arms. Drapery flows from the waist down, highlighting the arched knee and bunching to form a stable base. The arms rest lightly on an absent surface, the weight of the sculpture is instead cantilevered out from the base. Cast marks suggest that the piece has been cast in sections. The plinth, of black Staffordshire engineering bricks, is original.


Dr Karel Vogel', Mapping the Practice and Profession of Sculpture in Britain and Ireland 1851-1951, University of Glasgow History of Art and HATII, online database 2011, accessed 6 November 2015 from http://sculpture.gla.ac.uk/view/person.php?id=msib4_1254137636
D. Pereira, ‘Art for the “Common Man”: the Role of the Artist within the London County Council (1957-65)’, PhD thesis, University of East London, 2008
E. Harwood, ‘LCC Sculpture Exhibitions’, report of November 2015, Historic England London Region Historians’ Files, Post-war Steering Group files.
Exhibition catalogue: Karel Vogel: Sculpture, A retrospective Exhibition, 1962, South London Art Gallery Camberwell, copy in National Art Library.
Obituary, The Times, 1 April 1961


This building is listed under the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990 as amended for its special architectural or historic interest.

The listed structure is shown coloured blue on the attached map. Pursuant to s.1 (5A) of the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990 (‘the Act’), structures attached to or within the curtilage of the listed structure (save those coloured blue on the map) are not to be treated as part of the listed structure for the purposes of the Act.

End of official listing

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