Bronze model of an otter on a rocky base by Michael Rizzello signed Rizello 2 on an oval oak base. HM the Queen, as Patron of FPS, accepted copy No. 1 of the otter sculpture in bronze by Michael Rizzello. A limited edition of 200 was sold in aid of the Otter Haven Project. (Source: Oryx Vol XIV No 4 November 1978)
Michael Rizzello, 1926-2004 , worked in most sculptural media and at all scales from large architectural works, public statuary and wildlife sculpture to portrait busts and plaques; he also designed medals and coins.
Among Michael Rizzello best known public commissions was a striking bronze statue of Lloyd George for the Welsh Memorial Fund Committee. The sculpture, an imposing 8ft tall, depicted the fiery Welshman in a Tyrolean cloak, which he often wore in his later years, and with his fist raised in a characteristic platform pose. Mounted on a 10ft plinth of Portland stone, it was unveiled to general acclaim in 1960 in Cathays Park, Cardiff.
Among hundreds of portraits, he executed bronze busts of Lord Stevens of Ludgate and of Nelson Mandela, and official portraits of the Prince of Wales both for his Investiture and for its 25th anniversary. He also created an official portrait medallion for the Queen’s state visit to Russia, and in 1995 he completed two twice-life-size bronze statues of K C Irving for New Brunswick, Canada.
Other well-known commissions include busts of Sir Thomas Beecham for the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, and the Royal Festival Hall.
As president for 10 years of the Royal Society of British Sculptors, Rizzello campaigned to make people more aware of the contribution which sculpture makes to the British scene at a time when rising costs were tending to shift the emphasis from traditional materials such as bronze to newer ones such as glass fibre.
An outstanding commission was Beaver Fountain in St John, New Brunswick, Canada.
One of the symbols on the coat of arms of St. John is the beaver. It symbolizes the industrious and innovation of the people of St. John, NB. The image of a beaver recurs throughout the Old Burial Ground.
The Beaver Fountain is a lovel sculpture by Michael Rizzello and has a sculpture of a group of beavers as its centerpiece. Four bronze beavers are busily at work creating their lodge in the center of a raised circular pond. Pond water flows over the rim of the beaver pond down along the raised wall of the fountain into a circular basin at ground level. The fountain wall is constructed of dark granite from Quebec. The wall surrounding the fountain is granite quarried at Hampstead and cut in Sussex.
During the 1960s and 1970s he became best known as a designer of coins and medals. He designed coinage for the Royal Mint and coins and medals for some 100 countries. He created the new Conspicuous Gallantry Cross for the Ministry of Defence in 1994, and a £2 coin to mark the 50th anniversary of the United Nations in 1995.
Recent commissions included two bronze statues to mark the 200th anniversary of the birth of Edward Jenner; a bronze fountain featuring twin dolphins for the Barclay brothers at Brecqhou in the Channel Islands; a large bronze sculpture, “Dancer with Ribbon”, inspired by the ballet dancer Darcey Bussell, for the facade of the Plaza in Oxford Street; a memorial bronze of Nancy, Lady Astor, for the House of Commons; and a bronze of Lord Taylor, former Lord Chief Justice of England, unveiled at the Royal Courts of Justice in 1999.
His memorial plaque to Princess Margaret at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, was unveiled by the Queen in March 2003, and his memorial plaques to Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother were unveiled at St George’s Chapel, Windsor, and at Sandringham in January 2004. At the time of his death he had just completed a portrait bust of Lord Sainsbury of Preston Candover.
Michael Rizzello was appointed OBE in 1977, and was a Fellow of the Chartered Society of Designers.
Our otter in our opinion is a fantastic example of Michael Rizzello’s work and shows incredible empathy with the natural world.
Size: H17 cm W 28cm D15 cm
Stock No: PA647