- Parent Category: General
Two unique replica Figureheads carved by
The well respected Charles Moore
Finding an authentic Ships Figurehead in today’s Antiques market is becoming extremely difficult, and if you do find one in an antique shop or auction the prices can be prohibitive, modern day fibreglass replicas lack the appeal and weight of real wood, over 50 years ago Charles Moore gave up a well established clock making business in Clerkenwell London and moved lock stock and barrel to the beautiful Cornish coastal village of St Just-in-Roseland, finding a set of old woodcarvers chisels, and with a love or the sea and all things nautical, Charles began to carve small copies of original Figureheads that could still be found in the local harbours and villages around the coast, the local Isles of Scilly and the magnificent collection on Tresco served as inspiration in those early days.
What had started out as a small pastime soon turned into a full time job with commissions coming in all the time, replicas of such famous ships such as HMS GANGES and FOUDROYANT, within a short time Charles had gained a reputation for his Figurehead work, then the original figurehead from the sailing ship PARAME was broken down by vandals and smashed into some seventy pieces, using a technique which he had evolved over the years, he was able to fully restore the carving to it’s former glory, perhaps his most important commission in those early days was to carve a full size figurehead of Britannia for the restaurant of that name on board the Queen Elizabeth II this figurehead was presented by Lloyd’s of London to the Cunard Company, and unveiled by Her Majesty the Queen before the ship’s maiden voyage to New York, this Figurehead is still in the Cunard collection.
In a interview for the Lloyd’s of London house journal, Charles talks about the skill of Figurehead carving and how he looked forward to each commission, Charles likens the carving of a figure to peeling an orange, the outer skin must be removed with care so as not to damage the fruit that lies inside, the initial hacking away at the block with an adze however is an activity that seems far removed from his description of the work, only later in the project comes the more delicate and rewarding of chiselling away that produces the final shape, once the figurehead had been created Charles passed the carving to his wife Sheila for painting, up to five coats of paint are used, with real gold leaf used for the gilding, figureheads carved 20 or 30 years ago are as fresh and sound today, as they day they left his workshop.
Sadly Charles Moore died several years ago, his skill and craft survives in the numerous figureheads he carved in his Cornish workshop, many are still in private homes and collections in and around Cornwall, several have been taken abroad to the USA and beyond, and are treasured as icons of a lost age and tradition, it’s rare to find a carving by Charles Moore coming on to the open market, until now, on offer are two wonderful carvings originally created and commissioned by a local Cornish family, they illustrate beautifully the skill and workmanship that Charles achieved, and are a fresh and sound today, as the day they left his workshop.
Mounted on a shield base the Admiral looks determined with his arms crossed looking out to sea, Charles has taken inspiration for this subject from a number of surviving Male Figureheads in both private and public collections around the World,
Figureheads size Height 600mm Width 180mm Depth 200mm Wall mounted
Lady of the Sea
This free standing female Figurehead has been carved in the round, with finely carved detail to the hair and costume, typical of countless figureheads carved during the last half of the nineteenth century, she could have represented the ship owners wife or daughter, with the ship named after her, Styled from a three quarter figurehead of the 1840’s as with the Admiral Figurehead the condition of this carving is wonderful, both have the original paint scheme and have been in the same family since the day they left the workshop.
Figureheads size Height 554mm Width 250mm Depth 170mm Free standing