Ivan Mitford-Barberton


1896 - 1976



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Taken from 'The Bowkers of Tharfield' by Ivan & Raymond Mitford-Barberton:
Ivan had studied sculpture in England, France, and Italy and was more interested in art than in maize farming.  When in 1930 the depression was at its lowest ebb, he gave his farm 'Caverndale' to Renshaw to manage and settled in Capetown, where he is Lecturer in Sculpture at the University.  Since then he has become well known as a sculptor and his work had been bought by most leading galleries in South Africa.  He had decorated many of the public buildings, including the South African Mutual Life Assurance Building in Capetown, which had a carved granite frieze over 380 feet long and also nine granite figures of native types, each over 13 feet high.  Ivan is an Associate of the Royal College of Art and has recently been elected an Associate of the Royal Society of British Sculptors.  He served in German East Africa from 1915 to 1919.

Taken from 'Ivan Mitford-Barberton, sculptor, 1962' by Ivan Mitford Barberton, published by  H. Timmins, Cape Town:
"I had been promised all the decoration on the new S. A. Mutual Assurance Building which was being erected in Darling Street, Cape Town, so when I returned [from Kenya] I was busy for the next four years on what was my biggest commission. This work included a 386 feet long historical frieze in granite - the longest in Africa. There were also nine large granite caryatid figures of native types; the figures are thirteen feet high and each head weighs three tons. Higher up on the building are heads of an elephant and a baboon while at the top of the tower are four native masks in granite of the same height".

These sculptures on the Old Mutual Building in Cape Town were done by Ivan Mitford-Barberton and they are signed by him.  This information was written by Ivan himself and not passed down through the generations and are not stories produced by the press, scholars,  student papers, scholar writing or any other form of publication.  I have been asked if it was possible for one man to do all these sculptures, and my answer is yes because Ivan himself said it took him four years to complete and it was his biggest commission to date.  I have checked this information with several family members including Ivan Mitford-Barberton's daughter-in-law (who remembers seeing him working on them,) and his nephew, Dr. G. Mitford-Barberton.

Sculptures made by Ivan Mitford-Barberton


On the rocks at the base of Chapemans Peak, about 3m above sea level you will see the Hout Bay Leopard, (near Cape Town),  a 1,4metre high, time-tarnished bronze statue created by Ivan-Mitford Barberton whose studio used to be in the village. Some say this is the guardian of Hout Bay. You can walk along the rocks to just under the statue. It's a tribute to the many of its kind which used to prowl the mountains and valleys of the area, the last one sighted was in 1930.   The leopard was positioned there in 1963, as a gift to the people of Hout Bay.

Bronze statue of a Settler, his wife and child,
outside the 1820 Settlers Monument in Grahamstown.

Jock-of-the-Bushveld, a faithful dog who now stands outside the Town Hall in Barberton.




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Copyright Margaret C Manning 2008

 Last updated 2 October 2007
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