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Sketch model - Jael


  • Object:

    Sketch model

  • Place of origin:

    England (made)

  • Date:

    ca. 1862 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Alfred Stevens, born 1817 - died 1875 (designer)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Plaster cast

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

Between 1862 and 1865 Stevens was engaged in producing designs for the proposed redecoration of St Paul's Cathedral, London, a project that failed to come to fruition.
This figure of Jael is one of a group of five models for the proposed decoration of the dome in St Paul's. On their acquisition it was noted: 'Although these are only roughly blocked out they convey an astonishing affect of impressive dignity which can hardly be matched except in the finest work of the Italian Renaissance.' The other four are St John, St Mark and Old Testament figures - Judith and David.
A sculptor, designer and painter, Alfred Stevens (1817/18- 1875) rejected contemporary distinctions between fine art and design. From 1850 to 1857 he was chief designer to Hoole & Co., Sheffield, where he produced award-winning designs for metalwork, majolica, terracotta ornaments and chimney-pieces.
Perhaps his two greatest works were the decorations for the dining-room at Dorchester House, London (about 1856), for which he made countless drawings inspired by the Italian High Renaissance style, in particular the work of Michelangelo and the monument to the Duke of Wellington for St Paul's Cathedral, London, which was completed after his death. The two allegorical groups from this monument made a lasting impact on the New Sculpture movement.
The influence of the Italian Renaissance is evident in much of Steven's work, and is perhaps best reflected in the Wellington monument.

Physical description

She stands draped in flowing garments, looking downwards. In her right hand she holds a hammer which rests on her left shoulder; in her left is a long nail.

Place of Origin

England (made)


ca. 1862 (made)


Alfred Stevens, born 1817 - died 1875 (designer)

Materials and Techniques

Plaster cast


Height: 23 cm

Object history note

Purchased from Mrs. Townroe, 48 Gertrude Street, London, together with a range of other objects by Stevens, for £25. Transferred to the Tate Gallery in 1952; returned to the V&A in 1975.

Mrs Townroe was the widow of Reuben Townroe, a pupil of Stevens, who was also involved in a number of projects connected with the decoration of the Museum. According to Towndrow [sic! different spelling] (see: Towndrow, K. R. 1939, p. 99) whilst Stevens was at Sheffield working for Messrs. Hoole & Co Ltd as Chief Designer between 1850 and 1857, he 'invited Reuben a promising art student, to learn the craft under his own instruction at the Green Lane Works. The boy was with Stevens most of the Sheffield period and gained a faculty in modelling and an unusual insight into the decorative use of metals'. A collection of 274 studies and sketches of Stevens was also acquired from Mrs Townroe in 1911, and are held in the Department of Prints, Drawings and Paintings. They include studies of many of Steven's best-known works also represented by sketch-models, including those for St. Paul's Cathedral, the Wellington Monument and the memorial to the 1851 exhibition.

Plaster copy made in the early twentieth century probably by the V&A. NCOL. 557-2017

Descriptive line

Sketch model, cast in plaster, figure of Jael, by Alfred Stevens, England, ca. 1862

Bibliographic References (Citation, Note/Abstract, NAL no)

Bilbey, Diane with Trusted, Marjorie, British Sculpture 1470 to 2000. A Concise Catalogue of the Collection at the Victoria and Albert Museum, London, 2002, p. 387, cat. no. 612
Review of the Principal Acquisitions during the year 1911, Victoria & Albert Museum, London, published under the Authority of his Majesty's Stationery Office, pp. 6-7



Subjects depicted

Hammer; Nail


Sculpture; Architecture; Christianity


Sculpture Collection

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