David McFall R.A. (1919 - 1988)


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1954/2 The Infant Imogen

Portrait bust

Height 12¼"


Exhibited Royal Academy Summer Exhibition 1954 Catalogue No.1260

The sitter was Imogen Bisgood (née Slater) [born 6/8/1953] and was aged 3 months at the time of sculpture.  She was the granddaughter of Lady Helen & Sir Robin Brook [see below].  

It was modelled in 4 sittings at McFall’s Chelsea studio and was done at his suggestion because they were close friends through Olga Howe (see 1944/3).

Lady Helen Grace Brook [née Knewstub] (1907–1997).  In 1960 Helen (later Lady) Brook, previously chairman of Islington Family Planning Association (FPA), started an evening session for unmarried women at the Marie Stopes Clinic in Whitfield Street, London.  She was the first to argue that contraception should be available to women who were not married.  The constitution of the FPA would not allow her to invite unmarried women for help: a proposal at the 1964 FPA AGM to extend contraceptive advice to unmarried women was rejected. However, a large majority voted for an amendment that unmarried women would be referred to youth advisory centres, whose formation FPA should encourage; so in 1964, two years after the death of British birth control campaigner Marie Stopes, Lady Brook opened her own London clinic - the Brook Advisory Service - to do just that.

An interview with Lady Helen Brook, advocate of birth control and founder of the Brook Organisation for sexual health advice and services to the under 25's, is included in the National Life Stories project  http://www.bl.uk/reshelp/findhelprestype/sound/ohist/ohnls/nlsgen/general.html

Sir Ralph Ellis (Robin) Brook (1908 – 1998), merchant banker; OBE 1945; director, Bank of England 1946-49; Deputy Chairman, Colonial Development Corporation 1949-53; CMG 1954; Governor, St Bartholomew's Hospital 1962- 74, Treasurer and Chairman 1969-74, Chairman, Special Trustees 1974-88; Chairman, London Chamber of Commerce and Industry 1966-68, President 1968- 72; President, St Bartholomew's Medical College 1969-88; President, Association of British Chambers of Commerce 1972-74; Kt 1974; President, Association of Chambers of Commerce of the EEC 1974-76. He fenced sabre for Britain at the Olympic Games of 1936 and 1948.  

From his obituary in The Independent, Nov 19, 1998 by Colin Vines

“His war service began as one of three bright young men (Hugh Gaitskell and Christopher Mayhew being the other two) in the Ministry of Economic Warfare under Hugh Dalton. Brook was assigned to what would later be the Special Operations Executive, the clandestine organisation involved in subversive activities in enemy-held territory. His responsibilities lay in Western Europe - the Low Countries, but especially France; his dealings with de Gaulle required all his tact and skill. Brook knew the Resistance leader Jean Moulin, who would have become Brook's younger daughter's godfather had he not been tortured to death. Brook gave the daughter Lorraine amongst her names, in honour of the French Resistance. Brook recruited and controlled agents; several hundred men and women passed through his department. In 1944 Brook worked "at Eisenhower's elbow", obtaining from agents the information from behind the enemy's lines that Eisenhower sought during the Allies' advance eastwards. He was showered with high decorations, the reference books listing the American Legion of Merit, the French Legion d'Honneur, Croix de Guerre and Bars, the Belgian Order of Leopold and the Belgian Croix de Guerre. At the end of the war Brook, a brigadier with the British occupying forces in western Germany, was recalled by his former boss Dalton (by now Chancellor of the Exchequer) and made a director of the Bank of England (at 37 the youngest ever). In 1949, he became Deputy Chairman of the Colonial Development Corporation, and later would head many well-known public companies, become president of many chambers of commerce, and leader of trade missions to countries around the world. At the same time he continued for several years to advise the Intelligence services. Brook was good at making money, and made much. And much of it went on charitable causes. His wife Helen was passionately involved in "family planning", working voluntarily in that field, and in 1963 founded the Brook Advisory Centres. Robin Brook strongly supported her and her work throughout, both in the committee of the Family Planning Association and financially. The aim - in the teeth of furious and ferocious opposition in the late Fifties and early Sixties (which nowadays it may be difficult, if not impossible, certainly by younger people, to understand) - was to make readily available to teenage girls and young women advice on contraception, in order to avoid the then shameful unwanted pregnancies and the appalling back-street abortions of those days. At the Brook family mealtimes the topic was frequently discussed. Brook spent much of his working life in the public service. He was a member and, from 1975 until 1978, an influential Chairman of the Sports Council. He was Master of the Haberdashers' Company. He was also an enthusiast for 20th-century British painting, especially the work of Ivon Hitchens. St Bartholomew's Hospital in the City of London was his main charitable interest, indeed passion. He was Chairman of the Governors and later the Special Trustees, and was also President of Bart's medical college. The last time I visited Bart's I noted the new Robin Brook Centre for Medical Education at the medical school, opened in 1980 by the Queen: marking the event was a photograph of the Queen, Brook standing laughing beside her, a rather more charming picture than is usual on such formal occasions. Robin Brook was a doer, appearing ever confident. He got on well with people and was much liked. He thought of himself, albeit humorously, as a "team man", he always being, however, captain of the team.”

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