The statue of Peter Pan is a 1912 bronze sculpture of J. M. Barrie's character Peter Pan. It was commissioned by Barrie and made by Sir George Frampton. The original statue is displayed in Kensington Gardens in London, to the west of The Long Water, close to Barrie's former home on Bayswater Road. Barrie's stories were inspired in part by the gardens: the statue is located at the place where Peter Pan lands in Barrie's 1902 book The Little White Bird after flying out of his nursery. Six other casts made by the original artist have been erected in other locations around the world.
Statue in Kensington Gardens
The sculpture stands about 14 feet (4.3 m) high. It has a tall conical form, like a tree stump, topped by a young boy, approximately life size for an eight year old, blowing a thin musical instrument like a trumpet or flute, sometimes interpreted as pan pipes. The sides of the stump are decorated with small figures of squirrels, rabbits, mice, and fairies. Barrie had intended the boy to be based on a photograph of Michael Llewelyn Davies wearing a Peter Pan costume, but Frampton chose another model, possibly James W. Shaw or William A. Harwood. Barrie was disappointed by the results, claiming the statue "didn't show the Devil in Peter".
A completed plaster model of the work was exhibited at the Royal Academy in May 1911. Barrie had the original bronze erected in London on 30 April 1912, without fanfare and without permission, so that it might appear to children that the fairies had put it in place overnight. He published a notice in The Times newspaper the following day, 1 May: "There is a surprise in store for the children who go to Kensington Gardens to feed the ducks in the Serpentine this morning. Down by the little bay on the south-western side of the tail of the Serpentine they will find a May-day gift by Mr J.M. Barrie, a figure of Peter Pan blowing his pipe on the stump of a tree, with fairies and mice and squirrels all around. It is the work of Sir George Frampton, and the bronze figure of the boy who would never grow up is delightfully conceived."
He donated the sculpture to the city of London, although some critics objected to him advertising his works by erecting a sculpture in a public park without permission. In 1928 vandals tarred and feathered the sculpture. It became a Grade II* listed building in 1970. Royal Parks replaced the plinth in 2019, which caused some controversy.
Frampton made a series of small bronze reproductions of the Peter Pan figure from 1913 to his death in 1928. Examples were sold at Bonham's in March and November 2015, and one was sold in Scotland in 2016 for £60,000.
Frampton made six other full-size casts from the original moulds, which are situated in:
- Egmont Park, in Brussels, donated to the Belgian state by Frampton in 1924 to recognise the Anglo-Belgian friendship during the First World War; it suffered bullet damage in the Second World War, and was listed as a Belgian historical monument in 1975.
- Bowring Park, in St. John's, Newfoundland, erected on 29 August 1925, as a tribute to Betty Munn, the daughter of John Shannon Munn, who had died aged three on 23 February 1918 in the sinking of SS Florizel.
- Sefton Park, in Liverpool, erected overnight on 16 June 1928; it was vandalised in 1990; restored, it was relocated to a position in the grounds of the palm house; it received a Grade II listing in 1985.
- Queens Gardens, in Perth, Western Australia, erected overnight on 10 June 1929, and donated by Rotary International to the Perth City Council to celebrate the centenary of the state of Western Australia (founded in 1829 as Swan River Colony).
- Toronto, Ontario, Canada; erected on 14 September 1929 by the College Heights Association in a park that became known as "Peter Pan Park" after the statue, but was later renamed Glenn Gould Park.
- The grounds of Rutgers University, Camden, New Jersey, by Eldridge R. Johnson in 1929, and located outside the Walt Whitman Arts Center.
George Frampton Memorial
The memorial to George Frampton in the Crypt of St Paul's Cathedral, sculpted by Edward Gillick in 1930, depicts a young child holding in his hand a miniature replica of Frampton's statue of Peter Pan.
Other sculptors have created statues of Peter Pan, including:
- a statue by Paul Montfort in 1925 in Melbourne, Australia;
- a 1927 fountain and sculpture by Mary "Mae" Cook and architect Otto C. Darst, in Columbus, Ohio;
- Charles Andrew Hafner's 1928 sculpture in Carl Schurz Park in New York City;
- a statue by Alex Proudfoot RSA, Principal of Glasgow School of Art, at the Mearnskirk Hospital for children in Glasgow in 1949;
- Ivan Mitford-Barberton's 1959 sculpture at the Red Cross Children's Hospital in Cape Town, South Africa;
- Cecil Thomas's 1965 sculpture in Dunedin Botanic Garden, New Zealand;
- Alistair Smart's 1972 statues in Kirriemuir in Scotland, J.M. Barrie's birthplace;
- Diarmuid Byron O'Connor's 2000 sculpture at Great Ormond Street Hospital in London.
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- Birkin, Andrew: J. M. Barrie & the Lost Boys, Constable, 1979; revised edition, Yale University Press, 2003
- "The Outrages on London Statues". Our London Correspondence. The Manchester Guardian (25, 580). Manchester. 23 August 1928. p. 8.
- City of London – 2: St. Paul's Cathedral, Church Monuments Society, retrieved 16 May 2017