Statues - Hither & Thither

Great Britain
London
London

Greater London

Bank junction (EC3)

Pediment of the Royal Exchange

Richard Westmacott
1844

London /  Pediment of the Royal Exchange

Description

The Royal Exchange building, designed by William Tite, consists of a four-sided structure surrounding a central courtyard where merchants and tradesmen could do business. It features pediment sculptures by Richard Westmacott (the younger), and ornamental cast ironwork by Henry Grissell's Regent's Canal Ironworks. It was opened by Queen Victoria on 28 October 1844, though trading did not commence until 1 January 1845.

At the Bank junction side is a large pediment depicting Britain's commercial activities all over the globe. There are seventeen figures:

In the center stands the crowned figure of Commerce holding a 'charter of exchange' in one hand and a rudder in the other, with a ship's prow clearly visible on one side of her, and a beehive and an overflowing cornucopia on the other. She stands on a plinth with the inscription: the earth is the lord's and the fulness thereof (Psalm 24.1 a text chosen by Prince Albert).

On the steps leading to the plinth is to the left a group wearing the robes of Lord Mayor, Alderman and Common Councilman, and on the right stand two British merchants examining material offered by a Persian trader.

Further left the trade and exchange of goods from the near-east is depicted, starting in the left angle with a Turkish merchant doing his accounts, an Armenian banker, a Greek man holding an amphora, and, coming closer to the centre, two Indians, a Muslim and a Hindu.

To the right is another group, starting with a Chinese man (this was the period of the Opium Wars when Great Britain forced China to allow the importation of opium from British India), a sailor from the Levant, an African, a British sailor tying up a bale, and a 'supercargo' or cargo-manager or -agent.

London - Pediment of the Royal Exchange

For sculptures on the Royal Exchange, see also the statues of merchants and the Gresham Grasshopper.

Sculptor

Sources & Information

Tags

Location (N 51°30'48" - W 0°5'16")

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Item Code: gblo163; Photograph: 8 August 2014
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