Léon-Joseph Chavalliaud (c.1858-1921)
This is one of the eight statues by Chavalliaud, four in bronze and four in marble, standing on projecting pedestals at each corner of the octagonal Palm House. The subjects, selected and commissioned by Henry Yates Thompson as a gift to the people of Liverpool, represent pioneers in botanical study or the history of gardening, and discoverers who helped open up the natural world.
The inscription on the pedestal here is of special interest, for it identifies Columbus both as "the discoverer of America" and "the maker of Liverpool." In a speech to the people of Liverpool, Thompson explained that his discovery made him "the founder of Liverpool in its great development of American trade." He concluded, "I cannot imagine a more appropriate place for his statue than Liverpool" (qtd. in Cavanagh 197). Interestingly, the statue bears the name of a Parisian foundry.
Chavalliaud had been a pupil of the renowned and influential French sculptor Francois Jouffroy, and of Roubeaud II (see Cavanagh 325). He moved to England at the beginning of the nineties and stayed for fifteen years. Amongst other public statues, he was also responsible for the famous one of Mrs Siddons as the Tragic Muse (Paddington Green, London, 1897).
Photograph and text Jacqueline Banerjee, 2009.
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