Glasgow - City of Sculpture
By Gary Nisbet
The Qualities of Man in Modern Society
Details:

Sculptor: Joseph Armitage (1880-1945)
Modeller: Gilbert Bayes (1872-1953)
Architect: James Miller (1860-1947)
Location: Commercial Bank of Scotland, 30 Bothwell Street
Date executed: 1934-5

The Qualities of Man in Modern Society:

Commerce, Contentment, Industry, Justice, Prudence and Wisdom
.


Commerce from The Qualities of Man in Modern Society Contentment from The Qualities of Man in Modern Society Industry from The Qualities of Man in Modern Society

The Commercial Bank of Scotland is one of James Miller 's finest buildings in the American Neo-Classical style that he helped make popular in the inter-war years. Of the three major bank buildings he designed in the city centre, the Commercial Bank in Bothwell Street is the most sculptural, with figurative panels designed and modelled by Gilbert Bayes , of London, and carved in shallow relief in Portland stone by Joseph Armitage , of Glasgow.

The panels form a frieze under the attic cornice, each representing one of the 'six qualities of man in modern society': Commerce, Contentment, Industry, Justice, Prudence and Wisdom, but with Classical Greek figures performing a variety of tasks associated with them; such as the unloading of goods and sheep from an ancient galley to illustrate Commerce, and the Goddess Minerva with her owl, symbolizing Wisdom.


Justice from The Qualities of Man in Modern Society Prudence from The Qualities of Man in Modern Society Wisdom from The Qualities of Man in Modern Society

Bayes exhibited his models for Wisdom and Contentment at the RA in 1935, and Commerce in 1936. Two years later, in 1938, the model for Contentment was a feature in the Empire Exhibition held in Glasgow's Bellahouston Park. The model for Commerce is now in a private hands, and the sculptor's original drawings for the work now in the care of the Bayes Trust.


Industry and Commerce from The Qualities of Man in Modern Society Contentment and Prudence from The Qualities of Man in Modern Society

The building also features a pair of Corinthian columns in antis at its entrance, and an impressive set of bronze doors beyond them. Other buildings featuring carverwork by Joseph Armitage include Miller's Bank of Scotland, 110-20 St Vincent Street (1924-7) and James Woodhouse & Son, 28-36 Renfield Street (1929-31), whilst Bayes' only other recorded work for Miller is the relief decoration on the Commercial Bank at 92-8 West George Street (1930-7). The Commercial Bank in Bothwell Street was listed category B on 15 December 1970, and is currently in use as a bar.


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