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Edward Hodges Baily (1788-1867)

George IV early nineteenth century

Bronze | 89.0 x 62.0 x 37.0 cm (whole object) | RCIN 20798

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  • This equestrian bronze sculpture was supplied to George IV by the court goldsmiths and jewellers Messrs. Rundell, Bridge and Rundell in 1827 at a cost of £357. It is thought to have been modelled by the English sculptor E H Bailey who worked as designer and modeller for Rundell between 1815 and 1833. A celebration of George IV’s victory over Emperor Napoleon, the King is depicted sitting on a rearing horse and dressed like a triumphant Roman Emperor, wearing a military cloak over a suit of classical armour without spurs and stirrups and holding a staff on his raised hand emphasizing his role as powerful ruler of Britain. The national symbols of Great Britain are represented by the Royal coat of Arms, bearing the insignia of St George and the ribbon of the Order of the Garter surrounded by classical foliate scrolls, shown in low-reliefs on one of the sides of the plinth. To the other side of the plinth is the Latin inscription GEORGIUS IIII/DEI GRATIA/BRITANNIARUM REX/PATER PATRIAE which means ‘George IV, Father of the country and King of the British by the Grace of God’. The low reliefs of Britannia and Neptune riding his sea-horses, on the front and back panels of the arched ends of the plinth, emphasize Britain’s dominance of the seas and its position as maritime superpower. Bailey trained with the famous English sculptor John Flaxman and while working for Rundell’s he produced many drawings after Flaxman’s designs. It is thought that the influence of Bailey’s master can be identified in the design and composition of the low reliefs. George IV liked to entertain lavishly and in a grand scale. This bronze was used as a centre piece to be placed as an ornament or decoration on banquet displays which were arranged like a sumptous buffet, or ‘a la francaise’, imitating the fashion that had been introduced by the French royals of the Ancien Regime.
  • Medium and techniques



    89.0 x 62.0 x 37.0 cm (whole object)

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