‘Just as some of his figures become winged, a theme he takes up again in the early 1970s, so in 1976 he evolves striding figures clad in cloaks which, as the idea takes hold of his imagination, become ever more voluminous and billow out in the wind behind them, as in Pair of Walking Figures - Jubilee 1977. Still more recently, these billowing cloaks assume the fan shape of a dove displaying its tail feathers. In formal terms, too, Chadwick has delighted in contrasting the extravagant curves of the drapery with the gaunt angularity of the bodies they help to define’ (D. Farr and E. Chadwick, op. cit., p. 28).
Despite the occasionally brutal appearance of his structures, in the present work the artist manages to imbue his sculpture with more subtle detail, far more sensitive than in some of his more abstract pieces from the 1960s. Chadwick gives added textures to his figures, implying fabric stretched over their moving limbs through delicate ripples on the surface of their bodies, something he started incorporating in his sculptures after 1973. The effect nods to the marble sculptures of ancient Greece such as the figures from the Parthenon pediments that use a wet-drapery effect to heighten the curves of the female forms. Chadwick, however, gives life and autonomy to the billowing capes that form new abstracted shapes. The angles of the lines from the creased fabric create intersections and angular planes that appear stylised rather than natural. The prominence of the cape is the only visual sign that marks the presence of a gust of wind, thus setting his otherwise sturdy figures in a tangible space and fleeting moment in time. Additionally, the bold presence of this protruding element of the sculpture had an important practical role to play as it spread the weight of the heavy bronze to a point away from the thinner legs. Thus, ‘while thinking always in sculptural terms of mass, weight and movement, Chadwick invest[s] his abstract shapes with allusive vitality’ (D. Farr and E. Chadwick, op. cit., p. 24).
By choosing to dedicate much of his artistic production after the 1960s to rendering pairs or groups of figures, rather than colossal singular forms, Chadwick confirmed his position along the trajectory of great British modern sculptors. ‘A preoccupation with physical relationship had, in its way, defined popular awareness of the Britishness of British sculpture’ (M. Bird, Lynn Chadwick, Farnham, 2014, p. 147) and Maquette III Jubilee III harks back to works such as Barbara Hepworth’s Contrapuntal Forms (1950-51), Henry Moore’s King and Queen (1952-53), and F.E. McWilliam’s Mother and Daughter (1951). The sensitive relationships Chadwick captures in bronze during the second half of his career extract arguably the most intimate range of subjects from the artist’s oeuvre.