Important Australian + International Fine Art
4 May 2016


(1930 – 1993, British)


46.5 x 35.5 x 25.5 cm

edition: 6/6

signed and numbered on base: Frink 6/6

$40,000 – 60,000

Abraham and Sidney Waintrob, New York, gift of the artist
Waintrob Projects for the Visual Arts, New York
Private collection, Melbourne


Robertson, B., Elisabeth Frink: Sculptural Catalogue Raisonné, Harpvale Books, Salisbury, 1984, cat. 107, p. 160 (illus., another example)

Catalogue text

Elisabeth Frink’s Winged Figures, 1964 is of particular significance as a rare subject comprised of multiple figures, each characteristic as individual sculptures.

The following excerpts, relating to important themes for the artist from the 1950s and 1960s – birds of prey, flight and winged figures – are quoted from Sarah Kent’s chapter ‘A Bestiary for our Time’ in Elisabeth Frink Sculpture; Catalogue Raisonné, Harpvale Books, Wiltshire, England, 1984:

The birds of prey proved an especially fertile area of exploration able to convey Frink’s changing attitudes to war and the military, in particular, and to aggression in general.

...The birds soon took on more overt military references. Frink remembers the fighter pilots from her wartime childhood. Army and airforce personnel, stationed near her home in Suffolk, were a common sight and later the art schools were filled with servicemen returning to study. But while Reg Butler and ex-pilots like [Lynn] Chadwick were content to explore the gadgetry and symbolic significance of flight – Chadwick’s many winged figures are determinedly earthbound – Frink offers both a clearer and more complex view of its meanings and associations.

A number of machine-like birds and winged beasts follow. They stalk their prey on firm, long legs, their wings and bodies armoured to resemble ancient and modern weaponry.

... Parallel with the birds comes a series of winged figures – individuals attempting to fly – and of falling men that demonstrate their failure. Soldiers and airmen had pervaded Frink’s work since student days. Then in the late fifties she came across photographs of the French birdman, Valentin, in helmet, goggles and flying suit, strapped onto huge artificial wings ready to make one of the jumps that would kill him...

It’s easy to understand why the theme of flight appealed to post-war optimism. It acted as a reminder of the struggle against fascism that had just been won, especially in the air, and also as a symbol of future promise – of a time when the more positive aspects of human nature would prevail over baser instincts.

The attempt to overcome gravity, to defeat the forces of nature and escape from an earthbound state, provides a pertinent metaphor of one’s struggle to surpass human limitations – while to soar above everyone else also implies success, freedom and spiritual ascendancy...

As usual, Elisabeth Frink exploits both the positive and negative aspects of the theme, using flight as a metaphor for spiritual regeneration and the healthy pursuit of goals and ideals, but also for overbearing and selfish ambition.1

1. Wilder, J., (ed.), Elisabeth Frink Sculpture; Catalogue Raisonné, Harpvale Books, Wiltshire, England, 1984, pp. 55 – 57