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George III

George III by Matthew Cotes Wyatt (1777-1862). 1836. Bronze on a 12'-high Portland stone base. George III was "the first of England's monarchs to be commemorated in this way by public subscription, rather than by private gift" (Blackwood 48). The monument was originally intended to be much more splendid, depicting the king in a triumphal chariot drawn by four horses, but subscriptions proved inadequate. It was also intended for a different location — Waterloo Place, where it would have been much easier to appreciate, away from the traffic and the traffic lights that compete with it on this busy junction. But there was a different problem here. An item in Gentleman's Magazine explains that since the Duke of York (George III's second son, who died in 1827) was already commemorated at the front on a column there, this would have meant his back was turned on his father (see "Statue of King George III"). An alternative position was therefore found. Cockspur Street is nearby, at the east end of Pall Mall.

George III

Wyatt was known for his equestrian sculpture, and the king's Arab horse, Adonis, looks suitably spirited, not unlike the coloured horse's head shown to some acclaim in Wyatt's recent exhibition, "his eyes flashing fire, his veins distended, his mouth half open" ("Mr Wyatt's Sculpture"), except that the model was reported to have flattened nostrils and ears in anticipation of the fray. The king's features, below his neat riding-wig, are certainly familiar — for example, from Johann Zoffany's famous portrait of George III.

Views of the whole monument, the middle one illustrating another contemporary account, this time in the The Mirror of Literature, Amusement and Instruction (113). Note that the king sports a long pigtail (see last picture on the right): the group was quickly dubbed "The pig-tail and pump-handle" (Blackwood 16), the latter presumably because of the horse's arched tail. Still, the Gentleman's Magazine article praises Wyatt's statue for its dignified balance, clearly contrasting the horse's stance with that of the horse in the equestrian statue of Peter the Great in Russia, by pointing out that Adonis was "not supported by the adventitious but clumsy contrivance of a piece of rock, or an ancillary serpent." The whole monument was well received, and expected to "immortalise the artist who executed it" as well as the king's virtues ("Statue of King George III"). But its nickname suggests rather less than the hoped-for reverence!

Related Material

References

Blackwood, John. London's Immortals: Complete Outdoor Commemorative Statues. London: Savoy Press, 1980. Print.

"Mr Wyatt's Sculpture." The Literary Gazette, Vol. 19 (1835). Google Books. Web. 8 May 2012.

"Statue of George the Third." The Mirror of Literature, Amusement and Instruction. Vol. 28: 113-14. Google Books. Web. 8 May 2012.

"Statue of King George III." The Gentleman's Magazine and Historical Chronicle, Vol. 6 (July-Dec., 1836). Google Books. Web. 8 May 2012.

Timbs, John. Curiosities of London. London: David Bogue, 1855. Internet Archive. Web. 8 May 2012.

Weinreb, Ben, et al., eds. The London Encyclopaedia. Third ed. London: Macmillan, 2008. Print.


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Last modified 9 May 2012