All the works of Jagger that I had previously seen were monumental sculptures, at least until the V & A accepted Scandal 1930. Had Jagger created low reliefs before 1930?
It seems that Charles Jagger really was apprenticed as a metal engraver with the Sheffield firm of Mappin & Webb, when he was a young teenager. That might explain his interest in British New Sculpture and his concentration on naturalistic surface detail.
It also might explain why Scandal 1930 was far from the first low relief work that Jagger had done in his career. He honed his technical skills on reliefs as early as 1918, just as World War One was finishing. His early reliefs, therefore, had focused on military themes.
The First Battle of Ypres at Horse Guards Parade was completed in 1918. Here Jagger created a view of combat where soldiers of both sides lunged at each other with grim, fixed expressions. The Deco expressiveness in the relief has almost a Soviet poster feel to it. The German helmets and the Tommy uniforms were realistically distinguished but the space was unrealistic – perhaps a dozen soldiers crushed together.
The Fine Art Society said that the reliefs were a testament to Jagger’s ability to create an image simultaneously heroic and harrowing.
Jagger, First Battle of Ypres, 1918
No Man’s Land 1919 was low relief in bronze of a soldier hiding among the dead bodies, broken stretchers and barbed wire of No Man's Land. Presumably he was staying in that horrible location in order to hear the enemy's conversation. No Man's Land relief is in the Tate.
Jagger, No Man's Land, 1919
Cambrai Memorial 1928 in the Louverval Military Cemetery, France was erected to the memory of 7,000 British and South African soldiers who died without a grave. Jagger created two low reliefs in stone. In one, a wounded soldier was lifted from a trench and in the other a soldier looked through a periscope. The memorial was unveiled in August 1930, in front of British military dignitaries.
Jagger, Cambrai Monument in Louverval, 1928
Clearly Jagger had honed his technical skills in low reliefs long before Scandal. The only surprise that Scandal created for the viewer was Jagger's content, not his technique.