Sir Wilfrid Le Gros Clark FRS was considered the leading figure of British anatomy for three decades. He was the Department's Chair of Dr Lee’s Professorship in Anatomy, one of three named statutory professorships of the University of Oxford, from 1934 - 1962. Le Gros Clark had a profound influence on the teaching of anatomy at Oxford, changing it from the routine repetition of the minute details of anatomy to a study of function and its relevance to cell biology and embryology.
In 1953, Le Gros Clark was a key player in exposing the Piltdown Hoax, in which it was proved that the bone fragments presented as the fossilised remains of a previously unknown early human named the Piltdown man was in fact a forgery. He maintained his connection with our Department in an honorary capacity until his death in 1971. The building that housed the former Department of Anatomy from 1893 is named after Le Gros Clark.
To mark the occasion of Le Gros Clark's silver jubilee as Dr Lee's Professor of Anatomy, his colleagues, associates and former students commissioned renowned American-British Sculptor Sir Jacob Epstein to produce a bronze portrait bust as a tribute to his eminence and leadership in the fields of anatomy and physical anthropology, and it was presented to the Department of Anatomy. The presentation was made during the opening of new extensions to the Department by Sir George Pickering, Regius Professor of Medicine, who said that Le Gros Clark had played, and continued to play, a unique part in the revolution taking place in the study and teaching of anatomy.
After residing for several decades in the Le Gros Clark Building, in March 2023, the bust has now been relocated to pride of place on the Sherrington Building ground floor main stairwell.