'The Artillery Memorial at London's Hyde Park Corner is, without doubt, Jagger's masterpiece, but even without it his reputation would be assured by his other memorials - the figure of 'Wipers' at Hoylake and West Kirby; the 'Sentry' in the Britannia Hotel, Manchester and the soldier reading a letter presiding over Paddington Station, amongst others.
The genesis of a plan to erect a memorial devoted to the officers and men of the Royal Artillery was first mooted in a letter to The Times on 15 November 1918, only four days after the armistice, but it was not until 30 April 1920 that the Executive Committee, set up to supervise the project, was able to confirm that the City of Westminster had definitely offered them the site at Hyde Park Corner. As is the way of such committees, a sub-committee, chaired by General Sir John Du Cane, was then set up to carry the project forward and look at possible designs. On 28 February 1921, Sir John reported that the specification for the Memorial had been 'given to a Mr Jaggers [sic.] to produce a realistic thing'. Four months later, on 28 June, the Executive considered two designs, one by Sir Edwin Lutyens and Adrian Jones, the other 'by a comparatively young sculptor - Mr Jagger - and Mr Lionel Pearson'.
It is unclear how developed the design was at this stage, as detailed discussions between Jagger and the Committee continued throughout the remainder of the year, and only in November was it decided that the memorial should 'consist of a platform and pedestal surmounted by a sculptured 9.2 Howitzer' and that at either end there should be a 'figure of a Gunner in the one case, and a figure of a Battery Commander in the other'. This concept is very much in keeping with the model, now destroyed. Over the next eighteen months various modifications and alterations ensued, including the re-orientation of the Howitzer, the modification of the inscriptions and the inclusion of two extra figures - the Driver and the recumbent figure at the north end. It was this latter figure which caused the most controversy, but it was defended by General Phipps-Hornby at a meeting on 12 November 1924, presumably held at Jagger's studio in Battersea: Phipps-Hornby stated that it was a 'memorial to the dead and not the living. There are three living statues round but there is nothing to represent the dead. The only thing one can think is that the man [pointing to the Driver] is crucified'. The memorial was unveiled on 18 October 1925. Four days later Sir Leslie Rundle wrote to Jagger, 'My Committee hardly know in what words to express their feeling towards yourself. The connection between us for a considerable number of years has been of such an intimate nature that you almost seem to have become a part of the Regiment'.
With the Royal Artillery Memorial Jagger had achieved not only one of the finest of the First World War memorials but, in the process, produced a major work of sculpture. The Driver, as Phipps-Hornby had perceived, is a vital metaphor for the crucified Christ, and therefore, timeless; whilst through his explotation of the geometrical plains of the soldier's uniform, Jagger drastically simplified the forms to create one of the supreme examples of British 20th Century figurative sculpture'.
Peyton Skipwith would like to thank the Royal Artillery Historical Trust for permission to quote from the minutes of the Executive Committee (ref. RA 133, part 4), and the Trustees and Staff of the Imperial War Museum for generously granting access to their files relating to the life and work of Charles Sargeant Jagger.
We are grateful to Peyton Skipwith for providing this catalogue entry.