'The Penitent Thief' 1918

Francis Derwent Wood (1872 – 1926)

Marble, 52.7 x 49.8 x 45.2cm
Accession Number LL729

Cinerarium, Roman

The poetic realism of the sculptors of the ‘New Sculpture’ became weakened under a deluge of commissions for rather conventional busts and monuments. Religious subject matter, so rich in opportunities for expression and meaning, were rare.

This head, showing one of the two thieves crucified alongside Christ, is therefore of particular interest. 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 Rodin than anything else exhibited by Wood during this period.