First photograph from the Library of Congress online gallery, reproduction no. LC-DIG-ggbain-08080 (digital ID ggbain 08080); second and third from Davison (see bibliography), photographed by the author by kind permission of the British Library. Photographs of the maquette at the Musée Girodet, Montargis, France, also taken by the author, by kind permission of the museum. You may use the images without prior permission for any scholarly or educational purpose as long as you (1) credit the photographer/source and (2) link your document to this URL, or cite the Victorian Web in a print document. [Click on the images to enlarge them.]

Chapel Interior

Interior of the Albert Memorial Chapel, Windsor, looking towards the west, showing the Triqueti Marbles. Baron Henri de Triqueti (1803-74), in collaboration with the architect Sir George Gilbert Scott and with assistance from Susan Durant. 1864-74. Windsor Castle, Berks.

The interior of the chapel looking towards the east, into the apse.

The decoration of the interior of this chapel was a major, highly prestigious commission and it proved to be a life-consuming task for the sculptor. As Benedict Read writes, "the ultimate in funerary monuments perhaps were those of Prince Albert and Queen Victoria," and in this case "a whole chapel attached to St George's Chapel, Windsor, was restored (by as architect) and richly adorned, the main feature being a series of incised and coloured marble pictures of Biblical scenes" (194). In fact, there are fourteen panels in all, covering 60 metres in length and reaching 5 metres high (Galliot-Rateau 26).

Tarsia Panels

Left: The whole panel showing David, given with its full border "in order to show the manner in which the bas-reliefs are employed," Plate XXII. Right: The main pictorial part of the panel showing Abraham, Isaac and Sarah, with the angel of the Lord. Poignantly, this shows Isaac not at the moment of reprieve, but at the point where he is reunited with his mother.

The scheme is as follows: using appropriate episodes from the Old Testament, the panels exhibit the prince's virtues and attainments — for example, the scene of Abraham and Isaac suggests the prince's high sense of duty and his obedience to the will of God; while the panel depicting Solomon building the temple recalls the prince's interest in architecture, and also his work for the Great Exhibition, and the fact that he was planning the South Kensington Exhibition when he died. At the east end are three scenes from the Passion of Christ, concluding with the Entombment. Each individual panel has a decorative border of flowers and leaves, punctuated with bas-reliefs appropriate to its theme, and is surmounted by a bust-medallion of one of the royal children sculpted by Susan Durant. The example given above left is the only one photographed in its entirety by the Davisons, who felt that the borders, "though exquisitely beautiful in design and colour, are unfitted for reproduction in photography."

On either side of the entrance in the west wall are two life-size angels — the angels of death and the resurrection, completed by Sir Joseph Edgar Boehm. The theme of the choir with its gilded wooden neo-Gothic reredos by Scott is that of the resurrection.

Triqueti was also responsible for the sculptural work on the cenotaph to Prince Albert at the centre of the chapel, including the effigy itself, although in this instance he had to defer to Queen Victoria and give his recumbent statue not so much a saintly as a medieval appearance — even to the hound at his feet, looking towards his dead master with wistful devotion (see Galliot-Rateau 26). "Around the tomb in niches are mourning angels [Triqueti's speciality], and allegorical figures" (Read 194). Triqueti himself had known great sorrow: his only sister Henrietta had died young in 1843, and in 1861 his only son Edward (whose name is spelt in the English way on his headstone), who was just 21, had suffered the same kind of fatal accident as the one that killed his friend and patron the Duke of Orleans. Towards the end of his life, Triqueti lost both his wife Blanche and then his young mistress Susan Durant. All his grief seems to have been poured into this last commission. Although he lived to complete the tarsia work and cenotaph, he died before he could finish the sculptural work at the west end, or prepare the detailed explanation of it which he had planned to publish. On his death-bed he asked repeatedly if the Queen liked his sculptures here ("La reine a-t-elle aimeacute; les statues?" [qtd. in Galliot-Rateau 27]).

Maquette of the Triqueti Marbles at the Musée Girodet, Montargis, France

Left: West wall, entrance, with the angels of death and the resurrection, completed by Sir Joseph Edgar Boehm. Right: Choir with reredos, with the theme of the resurrection. To the left can be seen The Lamentation over the Dead Christ.

Closer view of tarsia panels in the maquette. Susan Durant's bas-relief medallion of the future Edward VII can be seen above the lefthand corner of the door.

The maquette of the Marbles in the Triqueti room at the Musée Girodet, Montargis is not a preparatory model put together by the sculptor himself but a one-fifth scale model prepared for the retrospective exhibition of 2007/8. However, as Didier Ryker says, it is a "perfect evocation of the original," and gives us an excellent opportunity to study the tarsia at leisure, and in detail.

There was some friction between Triqueti and Scott over the decoration of the chapel with tarsia instead of frescos. Indeed, Scott wrote that the choice of medium had been

a source of deep disappointment to me, as it will, I fear, be to all lovers of art. The Baron's work is not, in my opinion, worthy of his fame or of its object, and I have had myself to suffer through it a good deal of vexation, more perhaps through the injudicious ardour of his friends than from any intention of his own. [273-74]

Yet on another occasion Scott also expressed the belief that tarsia "offers a wide field for progress," and the hope that "the introduction of it by Baron Triqueti into Wolsey's chapel at Windsor will prove a cause of advancement in that art" (224-25). The fact that this hope was not realised makes Triqueti's achievement here unique.

Related Material

Bibliography

Davison, Jane and Margaret. The Triqueti Marbles in the Albert Memorial Chapel, Windsor. A series of photographs executed by the Misses Davison. With a preface by Jane Davison (1876). Available at the British Library. General Reference Section 1762.d.3.

Galliot-Rateau, Véronique. Henry de Triqueti, 1803-1874, Sculpteur: Collection du Musée des Beaux-Arts d'Orléans. Orléans: Musée des Beaux-Arts d'Orléans, 2009.

Hurtado, Shannon Hunter. Genteel Mavericks: Professional Women Sculptors in Victorian Britain. Oxford, Bern etc.: Peter Lang, 2012.

Lemaistre, Isabelle Leroy-Jay, et al. Henry de Triqueti, 1803-1874, Le Sculpteur des Princes. Vanves, France: Hazan, 2007.

Marsden, Jonathan, "Introduction." Victoria & Albert: Art & Love. London: Royal Collection Publications, 2010. 12-53.

Martin, Eoin. Queen Victoria, Prince Albert and the Patronage of Contemporary Sculpture in Victorian Britain, 1837-1900. Vol. I. Ph.D. thesis. Department of the History of Art, University of Warwick.

Palgrave, Francis. Essays on Art. London: Macmillan, 1866. Internet Archive. Contributed by the University of California. Web. 16 May 2016.

Pierre, Caterina Y. Review of Henry de Triqueti (1803-1874), scultore dei Principi, Museo Vela, Ligornetto, Switzerland, April 27 – July 27, 2008. Nineteenth-Centry Art Worldwide (2016). Web. 18 May 2016.

Read, Bendedict. Victorian Sculpture. New Haven & London: Yale, 1982.

Rykner, Didier. "Henry de Triqueti (1803-1874)." This is a review of the exhibition in The Art Tribune. Web. 9 May 2010.

Scott, Sir George Gilbert, R.A. Personal and Professional Recollections, edited by his son, G. Gilbert Scott, F.S.A. London: Sampson Low, Marston, Searle, & Rivington, 1879. Internet Archive. Web. 18 May 2016.


Last modified 18 May 2016