Neil Simmons (b.1952)
This bust, no.1 from an edition of 12, has the distinction of having belonged to Thatcher herself...
Margaret Thatcher needs no introduction as one of the most influential politicians of the twentieth century. She was the first female Prime Minister of the United Kingdom and the longest serving Prime Minister for over 150 years. This bust has the distinction of having belonged to Thatcher herself and was kept at her home in Chester Square.
This bronze relates to a full-length marble likeness of Thatcher commissioned for the House of Commons and completed in 2001. The sculptor, Neil Simmons, produced this portrait bust in a limited edition of just 12, and this example, no.1 from the edition, was given to Baroness Thatcher for her personal collection.
In the full-length marble sculpture, Thatcher is shown standing with her hands held together in front of her, and a handbag on her right forearm. The sculpture was commissioned by the Speaker’s Advisory Committee on Works of Art, and was originally intended to be placed in the Members’ Lobby of the House of Commons on a plinth opposite a sculpture of Churchill by Oscar Nemon (1906–85). At the time, however, it was forbidden to display a sculpture of a politician until five years after their death, so a temporary home for the work was found at the Guildhall Art Gallery.
Thatcher reportedly liked the sculpture when she was given a private view of the work just after completion, although she supposedly considered the appearance quite severe. While it met with her approval, there were some who considered the memorialisation of Thatcher at this date discomforting and, when it was exhibited at the Guildhall Art Gallery in 2002, it was attacked and the head was forcibly removed. After the necessary restoration work was completed, the sculpture was returned to the Guildhall Art Gallery, where it remains to this day. The space that was once designated for the sculpture in the Commons was instead used to display a large bronze sculpture of Thatcher commissioned in 2002 from the sculptor Antony Dufort.