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Queen Victoria Memorial

London 1819 - Osborne House 1901
Queen of Great-Britain, 1837-1901
(Wikipedia)
Thomas Brock
1911-16

London /  Queen Victoria Memorial   London /  Queen Victoria Memorial

Description

At nearly 25 metres (82 ft) tall, the Victoria Memorial remains the tallest monument to a King or Queen in England.

At the top of the central pylon stands a gilded bronze Winged Victory, standing on a globe and with a victor's palm in one hand. Beneath her are personifications of Constancy and Courage. Beneath these, on the eastern and western sides, are two eagles with wings outspread, representing Empire. Below these, marble statues of an enthroned Queen Victoria and of Motherhood, with Justice and Truth.

Brock described the symbolism of the Memorial, saying that it was devoted to the "qualities which made our Queen so great and so much beloved." He added that the statue of the Queen was placed to face towards the city, while flanked by Truth and Justice as he felt that "she was just and that she sought the truth always and in circumstances", while the Motherhood was to represent her "great love for her people".

London - Queen Victoria Memorial
Queen Victoria
London - Queen Victoria Memorial
Victory
London - Queen Victoria Memorial
Constancy, holding a compass with its needle pointing true north
London - Queen Victoria Memorial
Courage, holding a club
London - Queen Victoria Memorial
Motherhood
London - Queen Victoria Memorial
Justice
London - Queen Victoria Memorial
Truth

At the four corners of the monument are massive bronze figures with lions, representing Peace, Progress, Agriculture, and Manufacture. The self-bases of the last two groups are inscribed THE GIFT OF NEW ZEALAND. At the north and south side are two sculpture groups, representing Naval and Military power (south) and Science and Art (north).

London - Queen Victoria Memorial
Peace: a female figure holding an olive branch
London - Queen Victoria Memorial
Progress: a nude youth holding a flaming torch
London - Queen Victoria Memorial
Manufacture: a blacksmith in modern costume with a hammer and a scroll
London - Queen Victoria Memorial
Agriculture: a woman in peasant dress with a sickle and a sheaf of corn
London - Queen Victoria Memorial
South: Naval power (Woman with ship) and Military power (man with sword and shield - back side).
London - Queen Victoria Memorial
North: Science (man with map and pair of compasses) and Art (woman with painter's palet), on the back a mask and an engine.

The whole sculptural programme has a nautical theme, much like the rest of The Mall (Admiralty Arch, for example). This can be seen in the mermaids, mermen and the hippogriff, all of which are suggestive of the United Kingdom's naval power.

Under the groups of Art & Science and Naval & Military power are bronze reliefs of a mermaid and a merman; between these groups and the figures with the liona are low reliefs of mermaids and tritons.
London - Queen Victoria Memorial
South: Relief of a merman
London - Queen Victoria Memorial
North: Relief of a mermaid
London - Queen Victoria Memorial
northwest side
London - Queen Victoria Memorial
northeast side
London - Queen Victoria Memorial
southeast side
London - Queen Victoria Memorial
southwest side

The memorial is placed in the middle of an architectural setting of formal gardens and gates designed by the architect Sir Aston Webb.

The sculptor on his work

An interesting account of the genesis of the Queen Victoria Memorial outside Buckingham Palace, unveiled on Tuesday by the King, is given Mr. Thomas Brock, R.A., who has executed the work.

"I felt first that I must begin, says Mr. Brock, in his account in the Times, by giving what I thought was the true foundation upon which the Throne must rest, and so it occurred to me that there should be a large raised platform surrounded by walls containing fountains and great basins into which the fountains discharged. This would suggest the maritime greatness of the Empire. This idea was further developed the retaining walls being decorated by mermaids and tritons. It also appeared to me that this base should likewise be emblematic of the courage and wisdom of the people, which are suggested by the reclining allegorical figures over the fountains, on the one side representing the Navy and Army, typifying courage, and on the other side Science and Art, symbolising intelligence.

"To carry this idea further out, I placed on the pedestals flanking the steps at the front and back of the monument groups of colossal figures supported by lions - in the front on the right a figure of Peace, and on the left a figure of Progress; and at the back, facing the Palace, figures of Labour, Agriculture, and Manufacture. These, I felt, would represent all the qualities of the notion upon which Monarchy must depend for its security.

"The central feature, which rises height of 82ft. above this foundation, I devoted entirely those qualities which made our Queen so great and so much beloved. The statue of the Queen I placed in front, seated enthroned with Orb and Sceptre, and looking towards the heart of the great city whose people she knew and loved so well. On the right of the great pedestal I placed a group of Justice, and on the left a group of Truth. I felt that she was just and that she sought the truth always and in all circumstances. At the back I placed a group of Motherhood, symbolising her great love for her people.

"Above, ornamenting the main comers front and back, I placed eagles, emblematic of Dominion, and on the superbase figures of Courage and Constancy; and rising from above on an orb a figure of Victory with outspread wings, with the right arm uplifted and holding in her left hand palm branch." (Ballymena Observer, Friday 19 May 1911)

Inscription(s)

VICTORIA
regina imperatrix
mdcccxxxvi - mdcccci

Signature

(backside of the southern group) sir thos brock r.a.s.s.
a.b. burton founder 1916

(backside of the northern group) sir thos brock r.a.s.s.
a.b. burton founder

(west side) this memorial was designed and executed by thomas brock r.a. sculptor

London - Queen Victoria Memorial

Sculptor

Sources & Information

Tags

  • Brock, Thomas
  • Constancy
  • Courage
  • Fountain
  • Justice (allegory)
  • Lion
  • Manufacture
  • Mermaid
  • Merman
  • Military power
  • Monarch
  • Motherhood
  • Naval power
  • Peace (Pax)
  • Progress
  • Science (allegorical figure)
  • Statue (woman sitting)
  • Truth
  • Victoria (Queen of Great-Britain)
  • Victory
  • Location (N 51°30'6" - W 0°8'26")

    Item Code: gblo229; Photograph: 18 March 2019
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