|Home >> Exhibitions >>The Common Wealth: Treasures from the Collections of the Library of Virginia >> The Arts|
Robert S. S. Baden-Powell, baron Baden-Powell of Gilwell (1857-1941). John Smith (ca. 1580-1631). Bronze bust, ca. 1905. Height 23 inches.
Robert S. S. Baden-Powell is best known as the principal proponent of the Boy Scout movement of the early twentieth century. He was born in 1857 in London, the son of the Reverend Baden-Powell, a professor at Oxford, and Henrietta Grace Smyth. His mother's family claimed descent from Captain John Smith.
Baden-Powell and John Smith had much in common. Both were military men, authors, and important figures in British colonial affairs. After serving heroically in the British army in South Africa, Baden-Powell remained in South Africa as a military administrator and began sculpting in clay as a release from the increasing administrative paperwork. He returned to England in 1903 and there worked on his bust of John Smith after collecting and studying numerous portraits of the adventurer. Several collectors offered Baden-Powell substantial sums for the completed bust, but at a private showing late in 1905 Judge Charles Mayer, of New York, the son of a Virginian, claimed that "the only place for [Baden-Powell's] work was the newly remodeled state capitol at Richmond." The artist agreed and entrusted the bust to Judge Mayer, who presented it to the governor, who in turn deposited it in the State Library in 1906.