Herbert Maryon

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Herbert Maryon

Herbert James Maryon with first reconstruction of the Sutton Hoo helmet.png
With his reconstruction of the Sutton Hoo helmet, c. 1951. The image to Maryon's left depicts the helmet from Vendel 14; that on his right shows plate 1 from Greta Arwidsson's 1942 work on Valsgärde 6, and depicts the helmet from said grave.
Born(1874-03-09)9 March 1874
London, England
Died14 July 1965(1965-07-14) (aged 91)
Edinburgh, Scotland
OccupationSculptor, metalsmith, conservator-restorer
RelativesJohn, Edith, George, Mildred, Violet (siblings)
Herbert Maryon signature.png

Herbert James Maryon, OBE, FSA, FIIC (9 March 1874 – 14 July 1965) was an English sculptor, conservator, goldsmith, archaeologist and authority on ancient metalwork. Maryon effectively had two careers. He practiced and taught sculpture until retiring in 1939, then worked as a conservator with the British Museum from 1944 until 1961. He is best known for his work on the Sutton Hoo ship-burial, which lead to his appointment as an Officer of the Order of the British Empire.

By his mid-twenties Maryon had attended three art schools, apprenticed in silversmithing with C. R. Ashbee, and worked in Henry Wilson's workshop. From 1900 to 1904 he served as the director of the Keswick School of Industrial Art, where he designed and exhibited numerous Arts and Crafts works. After moving to the University of Reading and then Durham University, he taught sculpture, metalwork, modelling, casting, and anatomy until 1939; he also designed the University of Reading War Memorial, among other commissions. Maryon published two books while teaching, including the standard Metalwork and Enamelling, and more than a dozen articles. He frequently led archaeological digs, and in 1935 discovered one of the oldest gold ornaments known in Britain while excavating the Kirkhaugh cairns.

In 1944 Maryon was brought out of retirement to work on the Sutton Hoo finds. His responsibilities included restoring the shield, the drinking horns, and the iconic Sutton Hoo helmet, which proved academically and culturally influential. Maryon's work, much of which was revised in the 1970s, created credible renderings upon which subsequent research relied; likewise, one of his papers coined the term pattern welding to describe a method employed on the Sutton Hoo sword to strengthen and decorate iron and steel. The initial work ended in 1950, and Maryon turned to other matters. He proposed a widely publicised theory in 1953 on the construction of the Colossus of Rhodes, influencing Salvador Dalí and others, and restored the Roman Emesa helmet in 1955. He left the museum in 1961, a year after his official retirement, and began an around-the-world trip lecturing and researching Chinese magic mirrors.

Maryon is remembered as one of the finest conservators who combined deep technical, artistic, and historical understandings of the objects he worked on. His works remain influential, particularly Metalwork and Enamelling, which remains in print more than a century after its first publication.

Early life and education[edit]

Herbert James Maryon was born in London on 9 March 1874.[1][2] He was the third of six surviving children born to John Simeon Maryon, a tailor,[3] and Louisa Maryon (née Church).[4][5][6] He had an older brother, John Ernest, and an older sister, Louisa Edith, the latter of whom preceded him in his vocation as a sculptor. Another brother and three sisters were born after him—in order, George Christian, Flora Mabel, Mildred Jessie, and Violet Mary—although Flora Maryon, born in 1878, died in her second year.[7] According to a pedigree compiled by John Ernest Maryon,[8] the Maryons traced back to the de Marinis family, a branch of which left Normandy for England around the 12th century.[9]

After receiving his general education at The Lower School of John Lyon,[10] Herbert Maryon studied from 1896 to 1900 at the Polytechnic (probably Regent Street), The Slade, Saint Martin's School of Art, and, under the tutelage of Alexander Fisher[11] and William Lethaby,[12] the Central School of Arts and Crafts.[1][10] Under Fisher in particular, Maryon learned enamelling.[11] Maryon further received a one-year silversmithing apprenticeship in 1898, at C. R. Ashbee's Essex House Guild of Handicrafts,[10][1][13] and worked for a period of time in Henry Wilson's workshop.[11][14] At some point, though perhaps later, Maryon also worked in the workshop of George Frampton,[15] and was taught by Robert Catterson Smith.[16]


Colour photograph Herbert Maryon's sculpture Winged Victory
Winged Victory by Herbert Maryon

From 1900 until 1939, Maryon held various positions teaching sculpture, design, and metalwork.[1] During this time, and while still in school beforehand, he created and exhibited many of his own works.[1] At the end of 1899 he displayed a silver cup and a shield of arms with silver cloisonné at the sixth exhibition of the Arts and Crafts Exhibition Society, an event held at the New Gallery that also included a work by his sister Edith.[17] The exhibition was reviewed by The International Studio, with Maryon's work singled out as "agreeable".[18]

Keswick School of Industrial Art, 1900–1904[edit]

In March 1900 Maryon became the first director of the Keswick School of Industrial Art.[19][20][21] The school had been opened by Edith and Hardwicke Rawnsley in 1884, amid the emergence of the Arts and Crafts movement.[22] It offered classes in drawing, design, woodcarving, and metalwork, and melded commercial with artistic purposes; the school sold items such as trays, frames, tables, and clock-cases, and developed a reputation for quality.[23] Already by May a reviewer for The Studio of an exhibition at the Royal Albert Hall commented that a group of silver tableware by the school was "a welcome departure towards finer craftsmanship".[24][25] Two of Maryon's designs, she wrote, "were singularly good—a knocker, executed by Jeremiah Richardson, and a copper casket made by Thomas Spark and ornamented by Thomas Clark and the designer".[24][25][note 1] She described the casket's lock as "enamelled in pearly blue and white", and giving "a dainty touch of colour to a form almost bare of ornament, but beautiful in its proportions and lines".[24][25] At the following year's exhibition three more works by the school were singled out for praise, including a loving cup by Maryon.[28]

Under Maryon's leadership the Keswick School expanded the breadth and range of its designs, and he executed several significant commissions.[29] His best works, wrote a historian of the school, "drew their inspiration from the nature of the material and his deep understanding of its technical limits".[29] They also tended to be in metal.[29] Items like Bryony, a tray centre showing tangled growth concealed within a geometric framework, continued the school's tradition of repoussé work of naturalistic interpretations of flowers, while evoking the vine-like wallpapers of William Morris.[30] These themes were particularly expressed in a 1901 plaque memorialising Bernard Gilpin, unveiled in St Cuthbert's Church, Kentmere; described by the art historian Sir Nikolaus Pevsner as "Arts and Crafts, almost Art Nouveau", the bronze tablet on oak is framed by trees with entwined roots and influenced by a Norse and Celtic aesthetic.[31][32] Three other commissions in silver—a loving cup, a processional cross, and a challenge shield—were completed towards the end of Maryon's tenure and the school and featured in The Studio and its international counterpart.[33][34] The cup was commissioned by the Cumberland County Council for presentation to HMS Cumberland, and was termed a "tour de force".[35]

Colour photograph of a memorial plaque to Bernard Gilpin
1901 memorial to Bernard Gilpin, designed by Maryon, in St Cuthbert's Church

Particularly in more utilitarian works, Maryon's designs at the Keswick School tended to emphasise form over design.[36][37] As he would write a decade later, "[o]ver-insistence on technique, craftsmanship which proclaims 'How clever am I!' quite naturally elbows out artistic feeling. One idea must be the principal one; and if that happens to be technique, the other goes."[38] Design should be determined by intention, he wrote: as an objet or as an object for use.[39] Hot water jugs, tea pots, sugar bowls and other tableware that Maryon designed were frequently raised from a single sheet of metal, retaining the hammer marks and a dull lustre.[40] Many of these were displayed at the 1902 Home Arts and Industries Exhibition, where the school won 65 awards,[41] along with an altar cross designed by Maryon for Hexham Abbey,[42] and were praised for showing "a remarkably good year's work in the finer kinds of craft and decoration".[43] At the same event a year later more than £35 worth of goods were sold, including a copper jug Maryon designed which was acquired by the Manchester School of Art for its Arts and Crafts Museum.[44][41] On the strength of these and other achievements, Maryon's salary, which in 1902 had amounted in his estimation to between £185 and £200, was raised to £225.[45]

Maryon's four-year tenure at Keswick was assisted by four designers who also taught drawing: G. M. Collinson, Isobel McBean, Maude M. Ackery, and Dorothea Carpenter.[46] Hired from leading art schools and serving for a year each, the four helped the school keep abreast of modern design.[47] Eight full-time workers helped execute the designs when Maryon joined in 1900, rising to 15 by 1903.[41] Maryon also had the help of his sisters: Edith Maryon designed at least one work for the school, a 1901 relief plaque of Hardwicke Rawnsley, while Mildred Maryon, who the 1901 census listed as living with her sister,[48][49] worked for a time as an enameller at the school.[50][51] Both Herbert and Mildred Maryon worked on an oxidised silver and enamel casket that was presented to Princess Louise upon her 1902 visit to the Keswick School;[52] Herbert Maryon was responsible for the design and his sister for the enamelling, with the resulting work being termed "of a character highly creditable to the School" in The Magazine of Art.[53] Strife with colleagues eventually led to Maryon's departure.[54] In July 1901 Collinson had left due to a poor working relationship, and Maryon was often in conflict with the school's management committee, which was chaired by Edith Rawnsley and frequently made decisions without his knowledge.[55] When in August 1904 Carpenter, in friction with Maryon, resigned, the committee decided to give Maryon three-months' notice.[56]

Maryon left the school at the end of December, 1904.[56] He spent 1905 teaching metalwork at the Storey Institute in Lancaster.[1][10] That October he published his first article, "Early Irish Metal Work" in The Art Workers' Quarterly.[57] In 1906 Maryon, still listed as living in Keswick, again displayed works—this time a silver cup and silver chalice—for the Arts and Crafts Exhibition Society, held at the Grafton Galleries; one Mrs. Herbert J. Maryon was listed as exhibiting a Sicilian lace tablecloth.[58]

University of Reading, 1907–1927[edit]

The University of Reading War Memorial, a brick clock tower
The University of Reading War Memorial, designed by Maryon and dedicated in 1924

From 1907 until 1927, Maryon taught sculpture, including metalwork, modelling, and casting, at the University of Reading.[10][59] He was also the warden of Wantage Hall from 1920 to 1922.[59] Maryon's first book, Metalwork and Enamelling: A Practical Treatise on Gold and Silversmiths' Work and their Allied Crafts, was published in 1912.[60] Maryon described it as eschewing "the artistic or historical point of view", in favor of an "essentially practical and technical standpoint".[61] The book focused on individual techniques such as soldering, enamelling, and stone-setting, rather than the methods of creating works such as cups and brooches.[62][63] It was well received,[64][65] as a vade mecum for both students and practitioners of metalworking.[66][62] The Burlington Magazine for Connoisseurs wrote that Maryon "succeeds in every page in not only maintaining his own enthusiasm, but what is better in communicating it",[67] and The Athenæum declared that his "critical notes on design are excellent".[68] One such note, republished in The Jewelers' Circular in 1922,[69] was a critique of the celebrated sixteenth-century goldsmith Benvenuto Cellini; Maryon termed him "one of the very greatest craftsmen of the sixteenth century, but ... a very poor artist",[70] a "dispassionate appraisal" that led a one-time secretary of the Metropolitan Museum of Art to label Maryon not only "the dean of ancient metalwork",[71] but also "a discerning critic".[72] Metalwork and Enamelling went through four further editions, in 1923,[73] 1954,[74] 1959,[75] and posthumously in 1971,[76] along with a 1998 Italian translation,[77] and as of 2020 is still in print by Dover Publications.[78] As late as 1993, a senior conservator at the Canadian Conservation Institute wrote that the book "has not been equalled".[79]

During World War I Maryon worked at Reading with another instructor, Charles Albert Sadler, to create a centre to train munition workers in machine tool work.[1][10] Maryon began this work in 1915, officially as organising secretary and instructor at the Ministry of Munitions Training Centre, with no engineering school to build from.[10] By 1918 the centre had five staff members, could accommodate 25 workers at a time, and had trained more than 400.[10] Based on this work, Maryon was elected to the Institution of Mechanical Engineers on 6 March 1918.[1][10]

Maryon displayed a child's bowl with signs of the zodiac at the ninth Arts and Crafts Exhibition Society exhibition in 1910.[80][81] Following the war, he—like his colleague and friend William Collingwood,[82]—designed several memorials, including the East Knoyle War Memorial in 1920,[83] the Mortimer War Memorial in 1921,[84] and in 1924 the University of Reading War Memorial, a clock tower on the London Road Campus.[85][86]

Armstrong College, 1927–1939[edit]

Black and white photograph of students dancing around the Statue of Industry after tarring it
Students dancing around the Statue of Industry after tarring and feathering it

In 1927 Maryon left the University of Reading and began teaching sculpture at Armstrong College, then part of Durham University, where he stayed until 1939.[59] At Durham he was both master of sculpture, and lecturer in anatomy and the history of sculpture.[59] In 1933 he published his second book, Modern Sculpture: Its Methods and Ideals.[87] Maryon wrote that his aim was to discuss modern sculpture "from the point of view of the sculptors themselves", rather than from an "archaeological or biographical" perspective.[88] The book received mixed reviews.[89] His treatment of criticism as secondary to intent meant grouping together artworks of unequal quality.[90] Some critics attacked his taste, with The New Statesman and Nation claiming that "He can enjoy almost anything, and among his 350 odd illustrations there are certainly some camels to swallow",[91] The Bookman that "All the bad sculptors ... will be found in Mr. Maryon's book ... Most of the good sculptors are here as well (even Henry Moore), but all are equal in Mr. Maryon's eye",[92] and The Spectator that "[t]he few good works which have found their way into the 356 plates look lost and unhappy."[93] Maryon responded with explanations of his purpose,[94][95] saying that "I do not admire all the results, and I say so",[96] and to one review in particular that "I believe that the sculptors of the world have a wider knowledge of what constitutes sculpture than your reviewer realizes."[97][98] Other reviews praised Maryon's academic approach.[99][95] The Times stated that "his book is remarkable for its extraordinary catholicity, admitting works which we should find it hard to defend ... with works of great merit", yet added that "[b]y a system of grouping, however, according to some primarily aesthetic aim ... their inclusion is justified".[90] The Manchester Guardian praised Maryon for "a degree of natural good sense in his observations that cannot always be said to characterise current art criticism", and stated that "his critical judgments are often penetrating".[100]

At Durham, as at Reading, Maryon was commissioned to create works of art. These included at least two plaques, memorialising George Stephenson in 1929,[101][102] and Sir Charles Parsons in 1932,[103][104][note 2] as well as the Statue of Industry for the 1929 North East Coast Exhibition, a world's fair held at Newcastle upon Tyne.[106][107] Depicting a woman with cherubs at her feet, the statue was described by Maryon as "represent[ing] industry as we know it in the North-east—one who has passed through hard times and is now ready to face the future, strong and undismayed".[107] The statue was the subject of "adverse criticism", reported The Manchester Guardian; on the night of 25 October "several hundred students of Armstrong College" tarred and feathered the statue, and were dispersed only with the arrival of 80 police officers.[106][note 3]

Colour photograph of a gold ornament discovered in one of the Kirkhaugh cairns
One of two gold ornaments from the Kirkhaugh cairns, matching the one excavated by Maryon in 1935

Maryon expressed an interest in archaeology while at Armstrong.[112] By the early 1930s he was conducting excavations, and frequently brought students to dig along Hadrian's Wall.[112] In 1935 he published two articles on Bronze Age swords,[113][114] and at the end of the year excavated the Kirkhaugh cairns, two Bronze Age graves at Kirkhaugh, Northumberland.[115][116] One of the cairns was the nearly 4500-year-old grave of a metalworker, like the grave of the Amesbury Archer, and contained one of the oldest gold ornaments yet found in the United Kingdom;[117][118] a matching ornament was found during a re-excavation in 2014.[119] Maryon's account of the excavation was published in 1936,[120] and papers on archaeology and prehistoric metalworking followed. In 1937 he published an article in Antiquity clarifying a passage by the ancient Greek historian Diodorus Siculus on how Egyptians carved sculptures;[121] in 1938 he wrote in both the Proceedings of the Royal Irish Academy and The Antiquaries Journal on metalworking during the Bronze and Iron Ages;[122][123] and in 1939 he wrote articles about an ancient hand-anvil discovered in Thomastown,[124] and gold ornaments found in Alnwick.[125]

Maryon retired from Armstrong College—by then known as King's College—in 1939, when he was in his mid-60s.[126] From 1939 to 1943, at the height of World War II, he was involved in munition work.[59] In 1941 he published a two-part article in Man on archaeology and metallurgy, part I on welding and soldering, and part II on the metallurgy of gold and platinum in Pre-Columbian Ecuador.[127][128]

British Museum, 1944–1961[edit]

On 11 November 1944 Maryon was recruited out of retirement by the trustees of the British Museum to serve as a Technical Attaché.[129] Maryon, working under Harold Plenderleith's leadership,[130][131] was tasked with the conservation and reconstruction of material from the Anglo-Saxon Sutton Hoo ship-burial.[132] Widely identified with King Rædwald of East Anglia, the burial had previously attracted Maryon's interest; as early as 1941, he wrote a prescient letter about the preservation of the ship impression to Thomas Downing Kendrick, the museum's Keeper of British and Medieval Antiquities.[132][note 4] Nearly four years after his letter, in the dying days of World War II and the finds removed (or about to be removed) from safekeeping in the Aldwych tube station,[142] he was assigned what Rupert Bruce-Mitford, who succeeded Kendrick's post in 1954,[143][144] termed "the real headaches – notably the crushed shield, helmet and drinking horns".[145] Composed in large part of iron, wood and horn, these items had decayed in the 1,300 years since their burial and left only fragments behind; the helmet, for one, had corroded and then smashed into more than 500 pieces.[146] Painstaking work needing keen observation and patience, these efforts occupied several years of Maryon's career.[126] Much of his work has seen revision, but as Bruce-Mitford wrote afterwards, "by carrying out the initial cleaning, sorting, and mounting of the mass of the fragmentary and fragile material he preserved it, and in working out his reconstructions he made explicit the problems posed and laid the foundations upon which fresh appraisals and progress could be based when fuller archaeological study became possible".[147]

Maryon's restorations were aided by his deep practical understandings of the objects he was working on, causing a senior conservator at the Canadian Conservation Institute in 1993 to label Maryon "[o]ne of the finest exemplars" of a conservator whose "wide understanding of the structure and function of museum objects ... exceeds that gained by the curator or historian in more classical studies of artefacts".[148] Maryon was admitted as a fellow of the Society of Antiquaries in 1949,[149][150] and in 1956 his Sutton Hoo work led to his appointment as an Officer of the Order of the British Empire.[126][151] Asked by Queen Elizabeth II what he did as she awarded him the medal, Maryon responded "Well, Ma'am, I am a sort of back room boy at the British Museum."[152] Maryon continued restoration work at the British Museum, including on Oriental antiquities and the Roman Emesa helmet,[126][153] before retiring—for a second time—at the age of 87.[72][154]

Sutton Hoo helmet[edit]

Black and white photograph of the Valsgärde 6 helmet
The Valsgärde 6 helmet was one of the few published exemplar helmets at the time of Maryon's reconstruction.[155]

From 1945 to 1946,[156][157] Maryon spent six continuous months reconstructing the Sutton Hoo helmet.[158] The helmet was only the second Anglo-Saxon example then known, the Benty Grange helmet being the first, and was the most elaborate.[159] Yet its importance had not been realized during excavation, and no photographs of it were taken in situ.[160] Bruce-Mitford likened Maryon's task to "a jigsaw puzzle without any sort of picture on the lid of the box",[161] and, "as it proved, a great many of the pieces missing"; Maryon had to base his reconstruction "exclusively on the information provided by the surviving fragments, guided by archaeological knowledge of other helmets".[162][note 5]

Maryon began the reconstruction by familiarising himself with the fragments, tracing and detailing each on a piece of card.[160] After what he termed "a long while", he sculpted a head out of plaster and expanded it outwards to simulate the padded space between helmet and head.[164] On this he initially affixed the fragments with plasticine, placing thicker pieces into spaces cut into the head.[165] Finally, the fragments were permanently affixed with white plaster mixed with brown umber; more plaster was used to fill the in-between areas.[165] The fragments of the cheek guards, neck guard, and visor were placed onto shaped, plaster-covered wire mesh, then affixed with more plaster and joined to the cap.[166][167] Maryon published the finished reconstruction in a 1947 issue of Antiquity.[168]

Maryon's work was celebrated, and both academically and culturally influential.[159] The helmet stayed on display for over 20 years,[159][169] with photographs[170][171][172] making their way into television programmes,[173] newspapers, and "every book on Anglo-Saxon art and archaeology";[159] in 1951 a young Larry Burrows was dispatched to the British Museum by Life, which published a full page photograph of the helmet alongside a photo of Maryon.[174][175] Over the succeeding quarter century conservation techniques advanced,[176] knowledge of contemporaneous helmets grew,[177] and more helmet fragments were discovered during the 1965–69 re-excavation of Sutton Hoo;[178][136][179][180] accordingly, inaccuracies in Maryon's reconstruction—notably its diminished size, gaps in afforded protection, and lack of a moveable neck guard—became apparent.[159][note 6] In 1971 a second reconstruction was completed, following eighteen months' work by Nigel Williams.[183][162] Yet "[m]uch of Maryon's work is valid", Bruce-Mitford wrote.[169] "The general character of the helmet was made plain."[169][note 7] "It was only because there was a first restoration that could be constructively criticized", noted the conservation scholar Chris Caple, "that there was the impetus and improved ideas available for a second restoration";[177] similarly, minor errors in the second reconstruction were discovered while forging the 1973 Royal Armouries replica.[189][190] In executing a first reconstruction that was reversible and retained evidence by being only lightly cleaned,[191] Maryon's true contribution to the Sutton Hoo helmet was in creating a credible first rendering that allowed for the critical examination leading to the second, current, reconstruction.[147]

After Sutton Hoo[edit]

A black and white drawing of the Colossus of Rhodes from Herbert Maryon's 1954 paper, next to a Salvador Dalí's 1954 rendering of the Colossus
A paper read by Maryon in December 1953 likely influenced Salvador Dalí's 1954 rendering of the Colossus. Dalí's work incorporates Maryon's proposal of 1) a tripod structure balanced by hanging drapery, 2) a pose in which Helios shades his eyes, and most significantly 3) a statue composed of many hammered bronze plates.[192]

Maryon finished reconstructions of significant objects from Sutton Hoo by 1946,[193][194] although work on the remaining finds carried him to 1950; at this point Plenderleith decided that the work had been finished to the extent possible, and that the space in the research laboratory was needed for other purposes.[195][196] Maryon continued working at the museum until 1961, turning his attention to other matters.[126] This included some travel: in 1953 or 1954 he visited Toronto, lecturing on Sutton Hoo before a large audience at the Royal Ontario Museum;[197] in 1954 he visited Philadelphia, where was scheduled to appear on an episode of What in the World? before the artefacts were mistakenly carted away to the dump;[198][199][note 8] and in 1957 or 1958, paid a visit to the Gennadeion at the American School of Classical Studies at Athens.[201]

In 1955 Maryon restored the Roman Emesa helmet for the British Museum.[202][153] It had been found in the Syrian city Homs in 1936,[203] and underwent several failed restorations before it was brought to the museum—"the last resort in these things", according to Maryon.[153] The restoration was published the following year by Plenderleith.[204] Around that time Maryon and Plenderleith also collaborated on several other works: in 1954 they wrote a chapter on metalwork for the History of Technology series,[205] and in 1959 they co-authored a paper on the cleaning of Westminster Abbey's bronze royal effigies.[206]


In addition to Metalwork and Enamelling and Modern Sculpture, Maryon authored chapters in volumes one and two of Charles Singer's "A History of Technology" series,[205][207] and wrote thirty or forty archaeological and technical papers.[2][59] Several of Maryon's earlier papers, in 1946 and 1947, described his restorations of the shield and helmet from the Sutton Hoo burial.[168][208] In 1948 another paper introduced the term pattern welding to describe a method of strengthening and decorating iron and steel by welding into them twisted strips of metal;[209][210][211] the method was employed on the Sutton Hoo sword among others, giving them a distinctive pattern.[212] [213]

During 1953 and 1954, his talk and paper on the Colossus of Rhodes received international attention for suggesting that the statue was hollow, and stood aside rather than astride the harbour.[note 9] Made of hammered bronze plates less than a sixteenth of an inch thick, he suggested, it would have been supported by a tripod structure comprising the two legs and a hanging piece of drapery.[216][192] Although "great ideas" according to the scholar Godefroid de Callataÿ, neither fully caught on;[192] in 1957, Denys Haynes, then the Keeper of Greek and Roman Antiquities at the British Museum,[217][218] suggested that Maryon's theory of hammered bronze plates relied on an errant translation of a primary source.[219][note 10] Maryon's view was nevertheless influential, likely shaping Salvador Dalí's 1954 surrealist imagining of the statue, The Colossus of Rhodes. "Not only the pose," wrote de Callataÿ, "but even the hammered plates of Maryon's theory find [in Dalí's painting] a clear and very powerful expression."[192]

Later years[edit]

Black and white photograph of Herbert Maryon
Maryon, c. 1950s or 1960s

Maryon finally left the British Museum in 1961,[126] a year after his official retirement.[154] He donated a number of items to the museum, including plaster maquettes by George Frampton of Comedy and Tragedy, used for the memorial to Sir W. S. Gilbert along the Victoria Embankment.[15][222] Before his departure Maryon had been planning a trip around the world,[154][223] and at the end of 1961 he left for Fremantle, Australia, arriving on 1 January 1962.[224] In Perth he visited his brother George Maryon, whom he had not seen in 60 years.[153][224] From Australia Maryon departed for San Francisco,[154] arriving on 15 February.[153] Much of his North American tour was done with buses and cheap hotels,[154][223] for, as a colleague would recall, Maryon "liked to travel the hard way—like an undergraduate—which was to be expected since, at 89, he was a young man".[154]

Maryon devoted much of his time during the American stage of his trip to visiting museums and the study of Chinese magic mirrors,[72] a subject he had turned to some two years before.[153] By the time he reached Kansas City, Missouri, where he was written up in The Kansas City Times, he had listed 526 examples in his notebook.[153] His trip included guest lectures, such as his talk "Metal Working in the Ancient World" at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology on 2 May 1962,[225] and when he came to New York City a colleague later said that "he wore out several much younger colleagues with an unusually long stint devoted to a meticulous examination of two large collections of pre-Columbian fine metalwork, a field that was new to him".[72] Maryon scheduled the trip to end in Toronto, where his son John Maryon, a civil engineer, lived.[153][226]

Personal life[edit]

In July 1903 Maryon married Annie Elizabeth Maryon (née Stones).[227][228][2] They had a daughter, Kathleen Rotha Maryon.[229][230][231] Annie Maryon died on 8 February 1908.[232] A second marriage, to Muriel Dore Wood in September 1920,[2][233] produced two children, son John and daughter Margaret.[226][234] Maryon lived the majority of his life in London, and died on 14 July 1965, at a nursing home in Edinburgh, in his 92nd year.[235] Death notices were published in The Daily Telegraph,[226][236] The Times,[126][154] the Brandon Sun,[237] and the Ottawa Journal;[238] longer obituaries followed in Studies in Conservation,[223] and the American Journal of Archaeology,[72]

Works by Maryon[edit]


  • Maryon, Herbert (1912). Metalwork and Enamelling. London: Chapman & Hall.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link) open access
  • Maryon, Herbert (1923). Metalwork and Enamelling (2nd ed.). London: Chapman & Hall.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link) open access
  • Maryon, Herbert (1954). Metalwork and Enamelling (3rd ed.). London: Chapman & Hall.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)
  • Maryon, Herbert (1959). Metalwork and Enamelling (4th ed.). London: Chapman & Hall.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)
  • Maryon, Herbert (1971). Metalwork and Enamelling (5th ed.). New York: Dover. ISBN 978-0-486-22702-3.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)
  • Maryon, Herbert (1998). La Lavorazione dei Metalli. Translated by Cesari, Mario. Milan: Hoepli.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)
  • Maryon, Herbert (1933a). Modern Sculpture: Its Methods and Ideals. London: Sir Isaac Pitman & Sons.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)
  • Maryon, Herbert & Plenderleith, H. J. (1954). "Fine Metal-Work". In Singer, Charles; Holmyard, E. J. & Hall, A. R. (eds.). A History of Technology: From Early Times to Fall of Ancient Empires. 1. London: Oxford University Press. pp. 623–662.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)
  • Maryon, Herbert (1956a). "Fine Metal-Work". In Singer, Charles; Holmyard, E. J.; Hall, A. R. & Williams, Trevor I. (eds.). A History of Technology: The Mediterranean Civilizations and the Middle Ages. 2. Oxford: Clarendon Press. pp. 449–484.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)


  • Maryon, Herbert (October 1905). "Early Irish Metal Work". The Art Workers' Quarterly. IV (13): 177–180.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)
  • Maryon, Herbert (10 May 1922a). "Design in Jewelry". The Jewelers' Circular. LXXXIV (15): 97. open access
    • Republication of passages from Maryon 1912, pp. 280–281
  • Maryon, Herbert (12 July 1922b). "A Critique on Cellini". The Jewelers' Circular. LXXXIV (24): 89.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link) open access
  • Cowen, J. D. & Maryon, Herbert (1935). "The Whittingham Sword" (PDF). Archaeologia Aeliana. 4. XII: 280–309. ISSN 0261-3417.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link) Free to read
  • Maryon, Herbert (1935). "The "Casting-On" of a Sword Hilt in the Bronze Age". Proceedings of the Society of Antiquaries of Newcastle Upon Tyne. 4. VI: 41–42.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)
  • Maryon, Herbert (February 1936a). "Granular Work of the Ancient Goldsmiths". Goldsmiths Journal: 554–556.
  • Maryon, Herbert (April 1936b). "Solders Used by the Ancient Goldsmiths". Goldsmiths Journal: 72–73.
  • Maryon, Herbert (June 1936c). "Jewellery of 5,000 Years Ago". Goldsmiths Journal: 344–345.
  • Maryon, Herbert (October 1936d). "Soldering and Welding in the Bronze and Early Iron Ages". Technical Studies in the Field of the Fine Arts. V (2): 75–108. ISSN 0096-9346.
  • Maryon, Herbert (1936e). "Excavation of two Bronze Age barrows at Kirkhaugh, Northumberland". Archaeologia Aeliana. 4. XIII: 207–217. ISSN 0261-3417.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)
  • Maryon, Herbert (September 1937). "A Passage on Sculpture by Diodorus of Sicily". Antiquity. XI (43): 344–348. doi:10.1017/S0003598X0011676X.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link) closed access
  • Maryon, Herbert (April 1938a). "The Technical Methods of the Irish Smiths in the Bronze and Early Iron Ages". Proceedings of the Royal Irish Academy, Section C. XLIV: 181–228. JSTOR 25516012.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link) closed access
  • Maryon, Herbert (July 1938b). "Some Prehistoric Metalworkers' Tools". The Antiquaries Journal. XVIII (3): 243–250. doi:10.1017/S0003581500007228.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link) closed access
  • Maryon, Herbert (June 1939a). "Ancient Hand-Anvil from Thomastown, Co. Kilkenny" (PDF). Journal of the Cork Historical and Archaeological Society. XLIV (159): 62–63. ISSN 0010-8731. Archived (PDF) from the original on 11 April 2018.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link) Free to read
  • Maryon, Herbert (1939b). "The Gold Ornaments from Cooper's Hill, Alnwick". Archaeologia Aeliana. 4. XVI: 101–108. ISSN 0261-3417.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)
  • Maryon, Herbert (November 1941a). "Archæology and Metallurgy. I. Welding and Soldering". Man. XLI: 118–124. JSTOR 2791583.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link) closed access
  • Maryon, Herbert (November 1941b). "Archæology and Metallurgy: II. The Metallurgy of Gold and Platinum in Pre-Columbian Ecuador". Man. XLI: 124–126. JSTOR 2791584.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link) closed access
  • Maryon, Herbert (July 1944). "The Bawsey Torc". The Antiquaries Journal. XXIV (3–4): 149–151. doi:10.1017/S0003581500095640. closed access
  • Maryon, Herbert (March 1946). "The Sutton Hoo Shield". Antiquity. XX (77): 21–30. doi:10.1017/S0003598X00019232.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link) closed access
  • Maryon, Herbert (September 1947). "The Sutton Hoo Helmet". Antiquity. XXI (83): 137–144. doi:10.1017/S0003598X00016598.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link) closed access
  • Maryon, Herbert (1948a). "A Sword of the Nydam Type from Ely Fields Farm, near Ely". Proceedings of the Cambridge Antiquarian Society. XLI: 73–76. doi:10.5284/1034398.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link) Free to read
  • Maryon, Herbert (March 1948b). "The Mildenhall Treasure, Some Technical Problems: Part I". Man. XLVIII: 25–27. JSTOR 2792450. closed access
  • Maryon, Herbert (April 1948c). "The Mildenhall Treasure, Some Technical Problems: Part II". Man. XLVIII: 38–41. JSTOR 2792704. closed access
  • Maryon, Herbert (April 1949). "Metal Working in the Ancient World". American Journal of Archaeology. LII (2): 93–125. JSTOR 500498. closed access
  • Maryon, Herbert (July 1950). "A Sword of the Viking Period from the River Witham". The Antiquaries Journal. XXX (3–4): 175–179. doi:10.1017/S0003581500087849. closed access
  • Maryon, Herbert (April 1951). "New Light on the Royal Gold Cup". The British Museum Quarterly. XVI (2): 56–58. JSTOR 4422320. closed access
  • Maryon, Herbert (June 1953). "The King John Cup at King's Lynn". The Connoisseur: 88–89. ISSN 0010-6275.
  • Maryon, Herbert (1956b). "The Colossus of Rhodes". The Journal of Hellenic Studies. LXXVI: 68–86. JSTOR 629554.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link) closed access
  • Plenderleith, H. J. & Maryon, Herbert (January 1959). "The Royal Bronze Effigies in Westminster Abbey". The Antiquaries Journal. XXXIX (1–2): 87–90. doi:10.1017/S0003581500083633.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link) closed access
  • Maryon, Herbert (February 1960a). "Pattern-Welding and Damascening of Sword-Blades—Part 1: Pattern-Welding". Studies in Conservation. 5 (1): 25–37. JSTOR 1505063.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link) closed access
  • Maryon, Herbert (May 1960b). "Pattern-Welding and Damascening of Sword-Blades—Part 2: The Damascene Process". Studies in Conservation. 5 (2): 52–60. JSTOR 1504953. closed access
  • Maryon, Herbert (1961). "The Making of a Chinese Bronze Mirror". Archives of the Chinese Art Society of America. XV: 21–25. JSTOR 20067029. closed access
  • Maryon, Herbert; Organ, R. M.; Ellis, O. W.; Brick, R. M. & Sneyers, E. E. (April 1961). "Early Near Eastern Steel Swords". American Journal of Archaeology. 65 (2): 173–184. JSTOR 502669. closed access
  • Maryon, Herbert (1963). "The Making of a Chinese Bronze Mirror, Part 2". Archives of the Chinese Art Society of America. XVII: 23–25. JSTOR 20067056. closed access
  • Maryon, Herbert (1963). "A Note on Magic Mirrors". Archives of the Chinese Art Society of America. XVII: 26–28. JSTOR 20067057. closed access



  1. ^ The casket was auctioned in 2005 by Penrith Farmers’ & Kidd’s, with an estimate of £800 to £1,200.[26][27]
  2. ^ The Parsons plaque was placed on display at C. A. Parsons and Company.[105] Sometime after 2003 the building was demolished and the plaque was donated to the Discovery Museum, where as of 2016 there were plans to place it on display.[105]
  3. ^ The Manchester Guardian did not explain the reason for the tarring and feathering.[106][107] It followed on the heels of the tarring and feathering of Jacob Epstein's sculptures Rima on 9 October,[108] and Night on 14 October.[109] In the case of Rima, which was unveiled around 1926 and shortly thereafter covered in green paint,[108] papers reported that it had come under criticism for its "'expressionistic' character".[110] Then in 1928 Peter Pan, a statue by Maryon's late teacher Sir George Frampton, was itself tarred and feathered.[111]
  4. ^ Kendrick would become director of the museum in 1950.[133][134][135] Dated 6 January 1941, Maryon's letter read:

    "There is a question about the Sutton Hoo ship which has been rather on my mind. There exist many photographs of the ship, taken from many angles, and they provide much information as to its structure and general appearance. But has anything been done to preserve the actual form of the vessel--full size?
    The Viking ships in their museum in Scandinavia are most impressive, for they are surviving representatives of the actual vessels which played so great a part in the early history of Western Europe. The Sutton Hoo ship is our only representative in this class. I believe that all the timbers have perished, but the form remains--traced in the earth.
    That form could be preserved in a plaster cast. I have given some thought to the making of large casts for I have done figures up to 18 feet in height. The work could be done in the following manner: a light steel girder would be constructed, running the full length of the ship, but built in quite short sections. This would not rise above the level of the gunwale at any point but would follow the general curve of the central section of the vessel. It would extend right down to the keel, and would support all the lateral frames. The outer skin, which would preserve the actual external form of the vessel, would be of the usual canvas and plaster work. It would be cast in sections, each perhaps extending along five feet of the length and from keel to gunwale on one side. All sections would be assembled by bolting the frames together. Any roughness of surface due to accidental irregularities in the existing earth matrix could be removed. If it were desired to illustrate the inner structure of the vessel also, I think that that might be shown by constructing a wooden model on a reduced scale.
    Such a cast as that suggested above would be a very important document for the history of the time and it would provide a valuable introduction to Sutton Hoo's splendid array of furnishings."[132]

    Such an operation was not carried out at the time, largely due to time constraints imposed by World War II—impending during the original 1939 excavation, and in full swing by the time of Maryon's letter.[136][137] When an impression was taken during the 1965–69 Sutton Hoo excavations,[138][139][140][141] much the same methods that Maryon proposed were adopted.[137]
  5. ^ By contrast, photographs of the shield fragments suggested their spatial relationships, allowing Plenderleith to determine which pieces were part of the grip.[163]
  6. ^ Bruce-Mitford suggested that Maryon's reconstruction "was soon criticized, though not in print, by Swedish scholars and others".[161] At least one scholar, however, did publish minor criticisms.[181] In a 1948 article by Sune Lindqvist—translated into English by Bruce-Mitford himself—the Swedish professor wrote that "[t]he reconstruction of the Sutton Hoo helmet ... needs revision in certain respects." Nonetheless, his only specific criticism was that the face-mask was "set somewhat awry in the reconstruction".[182]
  7. ^ Maryon's reconstruction correctly identified both the five designs depicted on its exterior, and the helmet's method of construction. Maryon wrote that the helmet was made of sheet iron, then "covered with sheets of very thin tinned bronze, stamped with patterns, and arranged in panels."[160] The patterns were formed from dies carved in relief, while the panels were "framed by lengths of moulding ... swaged from strips of tin," themselves "fixed in place by bronze rivets," and gilded.[184] Meanwhile, "the free edges of the helmet were protected by a U-shaped channel of gilt bronze, clamped on, and held in position by narrow gilt bronze ties, riveted on."[160] Although likely not more than educated guesses, Maryon's statements were largely confirmed by scientific analysis carried out after completion of the second reconstruction.[185] The nature of the moulding separating the panels, however, remains unclear. Maryon suggested they were swaged from tin and gilded,[184] while Bruce-Mitford suggested they were made of bronze.[186] The later analysis found results which were perhaps contradictory, yet themselves internally contradictory. A subsurface sample of the moulding "suggest[ed] that the original metal was tin," (Maryon's theory) while a surface sample showed an "ε-copper/tin compound (Cu3Sn)" and thus suggested instead, because of a similar process observed on the shield, "that the surface of a bronze alloy containing at least 62% of copper had been coated with tin and heated."[187] Additionally, a surface sample taken near the crest had a trace of mercury, suggestive of a fire-gilding process that requires a temperature at least 128 °C above the melting point of tin.[188] An alloy containing at least 20% copper would thus be needed to sufficiently raise the melting point of the tin during the gilding process, a reality further inconsistent with the results of the subsurface sample of moulding.[188] As to swageing, "if the strips [of moulding] were of high tin alloy throughout, swageing would be impossible as copper/tin alloys containing more than 20% of tin are very brittle", while an alloy containing less than 25% tin would no longer replicate the white colour of the helmet.[188] Although the subsurface sample supports Maryon's theory of swaged tin—though not of universally gilded mouldings, which as reflected in the 1973 replica helmet were only found next to the crest—it contradicts the theory suggested by the surface sample, i.e., a copper alloy with a high tin content that was not swaged.
  8. ^ What in the World? was a show where a panel of scholar–contestants would examine, and attempt to identify, artefacts from the collection of the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology.[200] Froelich Rainey was the moderator, and for the April 3, 1954 show Maryon was scheduled to be the guest panelist alongside Alfred Kidder II and Schuyler Cammann, both of the museum.[199] The objects set aside for their show included a bronze spearhead from the Middle East dating to 2,400 BC, an African sculpture, a bronze antelope from North India, a bronze medallion from Switzerland dating to 400 BC, a wood carving from Bali, and the handle of an adze used by Native Americans on the Columbia River in Washington.[199] The objects were kept in a cardboard box and mistaken for garbage by a substitute cleaning crew on Friday night, then picked up in the morning by a dump truck operated by Edward Heller and his 16-year-old son Richard.[199] When the box was discovered as missing the studio was searched, the police were called (under the assumption that it had been stolen), and Edward Heller was contacted; "I was almost certain", Rainey later said, that the box had been mistakenly included with a shipment to another museum.[199] Richard Heller drove to the dump, despite his father's advice that even if he found the correct spot, the box would have been consumed by a dump fire.[199] Finding the box just as it ignited, Richard Heller doused the fire and recovered the items undamaged.[199] "I looked the things over after Dick brought them back", his father said.[199] "They still looked like to junk [sic] to me."[199] The objects were not recovered in time for the 1:30 show, however, so a kinescope rerun was aired instead.[199]
  9. ^ Numerous newspaper articles were published, including in the United Kingdom, Canada, and the United States. See § Colossus articles. These articles reference an account read to the Society of Antiquaries of London on 3 December 1953.[214] Maryon published the paper, entitled The Colossus of Rhodes, in The Journal of Hellenic Studies in 1956.[215]
  10. ^ Maryon used Johann Caspar von Orelli's translation of Philo of Byzantium, which Haynes argued "is frequently misleading".[219] Using Rudolf Hercher's translation, Haynes suggested that "Έπιχωνεύειν is a key word for the whole of Philo's description. An unfortunate slip in the translation used by Maryon confuses it with ἐπιχωννύειν 'to fill up' and so destroys the sense of the passage. Έπιχωνεύειν means 'to cast upon' the part already cast, and that implies casting in situ. It is contrasted with ἐπιθεῖναι 'to place upon', which would imply that the casting was done at a distance. Since in 'casting upon' the molten metal which was to form the new part would presumably have come into direct contact with the existing part, fusion (i.e. 'casting on' in the technical sense) would probably have resulted."[219] Yet the amount of bronze Philo claimed the Colossus to have been made from—500 talents—would not be enough for a statue that was cast, leading Haynes to argue that the figure had been corrupted.[220][221] Haynes thus effectively conceded that if the 500-talent figure was correct, Maryon had a point.[221]


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External links[edit]

Colossus articles[edit]