Peace (the Princess Helena)

Mary Thornycroft

Source: 1861 Art-Journal

“There is not, we believe, such an official in the Lord Chamberlain's department of the royal household as that of ‘Sculptor to the Queen's Most Excellent Majesty;’ if there were, Mrs. Thornycroft would undoubtedly be in possession of ‘letters patent’ confirmatory of snch appointment. But although the lady bears not this honourable title, she certainly enjoys all its privileges, inasmuch as the largest portion of the private patronage of royalty seems to fall to her share of the Queen, the Prince Consort, with most, if not all, of the royal progeny, have been reproduced in marble by her industrious and well-directed hand. It has been a frequently debated question whether modern portrait-sculpture should be treated, as to costume, after the fashion of the time, or according to that which had its origin in the great masters of antiquity, and which is usually known as the ‘classic style.” Undoubtedly the costume of our own day, whether it be that of man, woman, or child, has small pretension to aesthetic beauty of any kind, but especially to those qualities universally recognised as constituting sculptural beauty. What is gained in individuality by adopting the ordinary modern dress, we lose in the graces of the sculptor's art. Mrs. Thornycroft has inclined to this opinion in her statue of the Princess Helena: there is here nothing which approaches to a compromise of the two styles; the figure is of a pure classic character even to the sandals of the feet. But to give a personality to it, independent of the portrait, the young royal lady is symbolised as ‘Peace,’ bearing in her left hand a palm-branch, the emblem of ‘Victory,’ and in her right a sprig of olive with the fruit, the especial attribute of ‘Peace:’ this is held forth in the half-opened hand, as if inviting some one to take it.” [continued below]

Image capture and formatting by George P. Landow

[You may use this image without prior permission for any scholarly or educational purpose as long as you (1) credit the Hathi Trust Digital Library and the University of Michigan and (2) link your document to this URL in a web document or cite the Victorian Web in a print one..