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Last Updated: Wednesday, 19 July 2006, 11:58 GMT 12:58 UK
Missing Brunel cigar sparks row
Anthony Stones with the sculpture
Anthony Stones puts the finishing touches to the sculpture
The sculptor behind a life-size statue of Isambard Kingdom Brunel has denied he left out his cigar because of political correctness.

The bronze statue, at Brunel University in Uxbridge, west London, shows the engineer in his iconic top hat.

Anthony Stones said he had included the cigar as well in smaller models, but it looked wrong on the final statue.

"It's a minor prop. If a genius like Brunel needs a cigar, that's pretty sad really," he told the BBC.

The sculpture went up at the university on 6 July, to mark the bicentenary of Brunel's birth.

'Extremely pleased'

At the time Alan Bennett, the deputy director of the university's arts centre, said staff were "extremely pleased" with the result. He added that Mr Stones had gone to a lot of trouble to properly research the subject.

But there have been a few raised eyebrows at the decision not to include a cigar, when the engineer had a 40-a-day habit.

He even had a special carriage designed, capable of carrying 500 cigars and his drawing board.

It trivialised the whole thing and it just didn't work, so I left it out
Anthony Stones

Pro-smoking group Forest has said: "What next? Will Sherlock Holmes surrender his pipe? Will Sir Winston Churchill [also] be robbed of his cigar?"

It has been suggested that the cigar was left out because of fears students might snap it off.

But Mr Stones, a former president of the Society of Portrait Sculptors, said it was a purely asthetic decision, as it looked fine on the small scale models but strange on the full size statue.

"It trivialised the whole thing and it just didn't work, so I left it out," he told the BBC News website.

"If you look at statues of other famous cigar smokers, I can't think of a statue of Churchill with a cigar."

Isambard Kingdom Brunel. Picture from SS Great Britain Trust
Brunel, as some would prefer to remember him

He added: "I was very pleased when I saw it unveiled at Uxbridge several weeks ago. It had vitality and equivalence to real life."

Robert Hulse, the curator at the Brunel Museum in Rotherhithe, south-east London, was among those at the unveiling.

He said: "I liked it. Like everyone there is a bit of a surprise when you think - will he have a cigar or won't he?

"It's unmistakeably him. It doesn't have a cigar, but it does have that square-shouldered, 'don't worry, I will build it for you' attitude. It's pugnacious and no-nonsense."

He said the row had started because a schoolbook had been published by Heinemann in early 2005 in which a cigar had been airbrushed out of the front cover photograph.

"It's all gone a bit daft," he added.

Rare Brunel photographs revealed
30 May 06 |  Science/Nature
Hidden Brunel bridge is rescued
03 Mar 04 |  London


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