A Memorial to Sir Eric Anderson (1936–2020)

I arrived at Eton long after Provost Anderson’s retirement in 2009. But I came to know his features through his four portraits in the Eton Collections, the earliest showing him as Head Master in 1989. However, I spoke with him briefly about the Eton ‘Leaving Portraits’ he commissioned for the college when I was working on an exhibition of portraits in 2019. Anderson died the following year.

This year, I was honoured to become involved in a project to commission a substantial brass memorial to Eric Anderson. It will join the group of memorials to provosts, located high on the west wall of the Ante Chapel of Eton College Chapel. The memorial is intended to match the existing series of Victorian brasses. In fact, in the centre of the group, a gap awaits the new brass.

West wall of the Ante Chapel, Eton College Chapel.

After contacting a number of lettering artists, we settled on the London-based artist and sign painter Ged Palmer. Discussions then began on how the design would be transferred to brass. When the Victorian brasses were made, the design was engraved by hand. Today, that highly labour-intensive process is generally replaced by machine engraving for such large-scale brasses. Ged identified a leading engraver, Peter Tyler, Managing Director of Fine Cut, who trained as a hand-engraver but will be machine engraving the new design. However, by varying the technique and hand finishing, it will be possible to give the brass a hand-engraved appearance.

Artist and sign-painter Ged Palmer visiting Eton College Chapel.

The next stage was for Ged to see the existing brasses in the Ante Chapel. He visited Eton on 25th March this year, accompanied by his dog. Ged and I had some interesting discussions about how a new memorial design might integrate, in the context of such an historical interior. Ged is now busy working on the project and I look forward to seeing the result, initially as a drawing, and before long as a bright new brass in College Chapel.

By Philippa Martin, Keeper of Fine and Decorative Art

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