Gilbert Bayes was born in North London in 1872, the second son of a professional artist, Alfred Walter, and Emily Ann Bayes. He was interested in sculpture from an early age and attended the City and Guilds and, later, the Royal Academy Schools, where he won several prizes for composition and life modelling. He exhibited at the Royal Academy between 1905 and 1952 and was president of the Royal British Society of Sculptors between 1939 and 1944.
In 1896 Bayes was elected into The Art Workers’ Guild whose members associated themselves with the William Morris’s vision of the union of architecture, painting, sculpture and the decorative arts. Notable members of the Guild included Edward Onslow Ford, William Hamo Thornycroft, Alfred Gilbert, and George Frampton - sculptors who went on to pioneer the movement that became to known as the ‘the New Sculpture’. Influenced by Frampton, Bayes became associated with the movement, with its focus on creating reduced-sized naturalistic bronzes. Known as ‘the cult of the statuette', these sculptures exhibit a high attention to surface detail and a sensual approach to pose and gesture.