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Baron Carlo Marochetti (1805-67)

Richard I, Coeur de Lion 1853

Bronze | 45.0 x 44.0 x 16.0 cm (whole object) | RCIN 44114

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  • This is a copy of the colossal equestrian bronze now seen in Old Palace Yard beside the Houses of Parliament. Its existence was only realised at Westminster with the support of Prince Albert and it is now one of the best known of all Victorian statues.

    The bronze, of which this is a reduction, was Marochetti's most celebrated work in England. It is, in essence, an English version of the statue of Emanuele Filiberto (1528-80), Duke of Savoy, commissioned by the King of Savoy and erected in 1838 in the Piazza San Carlo in Turin in the sculptor's native Piedmont, later a symbol of Italian nationalism. A full-size plaster cast of Richard I was set up outside the western entrance to the Crystal Palace in Hyde Park, where it greeted the six million visitors to the Great Exhibition. Following the closure of the Exhibition it was moved to New Palace Yard, while around 250 private individuals including many peers and MPs signed a petition to have the statue cast in bronze and erected ‘on some conspicuous site in the Metropolis’. During the Exhibition, sections of the press had criticised the award of such a prominent commission to a foreigner, and the proposal for a permanent bronze was no less controversial. However, Queen Victoria and Prince Albert each subscribed £200 towards the £5,000 required for the bronze casting, the Prince declaring that there was ‘no reason to withhold his support, on the ground of the Baron being a foreigner - it is the work not the Artist which enlists HRH's sympathy’.

    The question of the site for the bronze was hotly debated. The space abutting the Palace of Westminster on the west side, known as Old Palace Yard, was proposed by Marochetti but dismissed by Charles Barry, the architect, as too irregular. Nine other locations were considered before Old Palace Yard was duly settled upon in 1859 and the statue installed in October 1860 on a new pedestal with two bronze reliefs also by Marochetti.

    The reputation of Richard I (1157-99), the son of Henry II, reached a high point in mid-nineteenth century England, partly through his portrayal in the novels of Walter Scott. For most of his ten-year reign he was absent from England, pursuing military campaigns overseas, including the Third Crusade against the forces of Saladin.

    A closely related statue of Edward, the Black Prince, proposed by the sculptor as a companion for Richard I, was never undertaken at full size. At the same time as she purchased this statuette as a memento for Prince Albert, the Queen made a down-payment on a bronze statuette of the Black Prince as a gift for her eldest son, Albert Edward, Prince of Wales. A bronze cast of the sculptor's small model for that statue also exists with the details of the pedestal reliefs fully worked out, but the project went no further than this. The statue of Richard was only realised at Westminster with the support of Prince Albert, and his death in December 1861 left Marochetti without a champion for the second statue.

    Text from Victoria & Albert: Art & Love.
    Provenance

    Purchased by Queen Victoria (£30, RA VIC/ADD T/232/67, quarter to 31 March 1854),

    Given to Prince Albert by Queen Victoria on his birthday, 26th August 1853 [Victoria & Albert: Art & Love, London, 2010, pg 460]

  • Medium and techniques

    Bronze

    Measurements

    45.0 x 44.0 x 16.0 cm (whole object)