December’s Artwork of the Month, a bronze equestrian statue of King Richard I of England, marks 150 years since the death of sculptor Carlo Marochetti on 29 December 1867.
Marochetti first exhibited the plaster model for his equestrian statue of Richard Coeur de Lion (i.e. Richard the Lionheart) at the Great Exhibition of 1851.
Following the Exhibition’s closure, the model was moved to New Palace Yard outside Parliament, while a committee sought subscriptions to have it cast in bronze and erected ‘on some conspicuous site in the Metropolis’. Queen Victoria and Prince Albert each subscribed £200 towards the £5000 needed.
After much debate about the final location, in 1860 the bronze statue was installed in Old Palace Yard (between the House of Lords and Westminster Abbey). Today it is one of the best known Victorian statues in the country.
Baron Carlo Marochetti (1805-67) was an Italian-born French sculptor who first came to Britain in 1848 when his patron King Louis-Philippe was exiled from France.
Marochetti spent most of the rest of his life in London, where he established a large studio and bronze foundry.
He was a favourite sculptor of Queen Victoria and worked on important royal and public commissions, including collaborating with Sir Edwin Landseer on the lions at the base of Nelson’s Column in Trafalgar Square.
A year before his death, Marochetti was made a Royal Academician.
Image: 'Richard Coeur de Lion' by Carlo Marochetti, bronze, 1856 (Parliamentary Art Collection, WOA S74)