The artists creating the ‘New Sculpture’ aspired to create poetic realism in their work. However, this became weakened under a deluge of commissions for rather conventional busts and monuments. Opportunities to work on religious subject matter, so rich in potential for the sculptor to include expression and meaning in a piece, were rare.
This bust - or sculpture of a head - shows one of the two thieves crucified alongside Christ. It powerfully demonstrates the sculptor’s ability to manipulate and model surfaces with deep furrows and high, sharp ridges in order to produce a face of great power and poignancy. The expressive vigour of modelling and emotional realism of this piece make it closer to the work of the French sculptor Auguste Rodin (1840 - 1917) than anything else exhibited by Wood during this period. Wood was appointed Professor of Sculpture at the Royal College of Art in 1918, the year in which he created this bust.