Reg Butler

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Reg Butler sculpture in Frankfurt

Reginald Cotterell Butler (28 April 1913 – 23 October 1981) was an English sculptor. He was born at Bridgefoot House, Buntingford, Hertfordshire to Frederick William Butler (1880–1937) and Edith (1880–1969), daughter of blacksmith William Barltrop, of The Forge, Takeley, Essex.[1][2] His parents were the Master and Matron of the Buntingford Union Workhouse.[3] Frederick Butler, formerly a police constable,[4] was a relative of the poet William Butler Yeats; Edith was of Anglo-French descent.[5]

Butler studied and lectured at the Architectural Association School of Architecture in London from 1937 to 1939. He was a conscientious objector during the Second World War, being exempted from military service conditional upon setting up a small blacksmith business repairing farm implements. After winning the 'Unknown Political Prisoner' competition in 1953 he became one of the best known sculptors during the 1950s and 1960s, and also taught at the Slade School of Art.

Butler's later work consists of lifelike models of female figures, such as Girl on a Round Base,[6] that have something in common with Hans Bellmer and the sculpture of Allen Jones and prefigure the work of Ron Mueck.

Many of his works are held by the Museum of Modern Art in New York City and Tate Gallery in London.

Butler was featured in the 1964 documentary film, "5 British Sculptors (Work and Talk)", by American filmmaker Warren Forma.

Butler married Joan Child in 1938; by his second wife, Rosemary (née Young; 1930–2019),[7] a sculptor, who had been his student and later assistant, he had a son, Creon Adrian John Cotterell Butler, later a diplomat,[8] and daughter, Cortina Maxine Ann Cotterell Butler, a director of literature for the British Council.[9][10][11][12]

He died in Berkhamsted.


  1. ^ The Green Record Book, issue 1, Steve Hazon, Takeley Local History Society, 2006, Takeley Chapel Marriages
  2. ^ Holy Trinity Baptisms, Holy Trinity Church, Takeley, URL=
  3. ^ The Sculpture of Reg Butler, Margaret Garlake, Henry Moore Foundation, 2006, p. 12
  4. ^ The Green Record Book, issue 1, Steve Hazon, Takeley Local History Society, 2006, Takeley Chapel Marriages
  5. ^ Current Biography Yearbook, H. W. Wilson Co., 1957, p. 92
  6. ^ Reg Butler 1913-1981 Tate Online
  7. ^ "Rosemary Young - Overview".
  8. ^ "Butler, Creon Adrian John Cotterell, (Born 1960), HM Diplomatic Service; Director, European and Global Issues Secretariat, Cabinet Office, since 2012". Who's Who. 2007. doi:10.1093/ww/9780199540884.013.U43743. ISBN 978-0-19-954088-4.
  9. ^ "Butler, Cortina Maxine Ann Cotterell, (Born 21 April 1958), Director, Literature, British Council, since 2013". Who's Who. 2015. doi:10.1093/ww/9780199540884.013.U284236. ISBN 978-0-19-954088-4.
  10. ^ "Manipulator proves a record seller for Reg - Hemel Gazette". Archived from the original on 18 April 2019. Retrieved 18 April 2019.
  11. ^ British Library Sounds, Arts, Literature and Performance, Butler, Rosemary, National Life Story Collection: Artists' Lives, URL=
  12. ^ [bare URL PDF]

External links[edit]

  • "Reg Butler 1960". British Pathé. 18 July 1960. Retrieved 6 April 2019. - a short film of Reg Butler shot at his Berkhamsted studio
  • Read, John (21 September 1958). "Reg Butler". British Art & Artists. BBC. Retrieved 7 April 2019.