Crab is the first and smaller of two almost identical crab sculptures which Meadows made in 1952. It was cast in an edition of six bronzes. The larger sculpture is known as Jesus Crab, because the first cast was acquired by Jesus College, Cambridge. Meadows’s crab sculptures were inspired by his war-time service with the Royal Air Force on the Cocos Islands in the South Indian Ocean, where he observed the shapes and behaviour of crabs (see also Black Crab, 1951-2, Tate Gallery T03409).

Meadows’s preferred view of Crab is what he called the ‘back view’, since it gives the impression of ‘something scuttling away’ (this view is reproduced in Nairne and Serota 1981, p.3). The artist based its form on that of the Fiddler crab, which is roughly spherical and which runs along fast with both claws above its head, before disappearing into the sand. The expressively scored surface of the sculpture was inspired by visits Meadows made to the British Museum, where he saw tribal art from the South Pacific, such as wooden constructions of birds and other animals, painted white and marked with red.

Crab was cast by the lost wax process at Fiorini’s foundry in the King’s Road, London.

Further reading:
W.J. Strachan, ‘The Sculptor and his Drawings 2. Bernard Meadows’, Connoisseur, vol.185, no.76, April 1974, pp.288-93
Sandy Nairne and Nicholas Serota (eds.), British Sculpture in the 20th Century. Part 2: Symbol and Imagination 1951-1980, exhibition catalogue, Whitechapel Art Gallery, London 1981, p.3, reproduced (unspecified cast)
The Tate Gallery 1984-86: Illustrated Catalogue of Acquisitions, London 1988, pp.530-1, reproduced

Terry Riggs
January 1998


The Crab


Need assistance? 020 3137 1525
Medium: Bronze
Size: 13″ x 8″ / 155 x 90 x 110 mm
Acquisition: Transferred from the Victoria & Albert Museum 1983
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