A full length bronze statue of Rt. Hon the Baroness Thatcher was unveiled in Members' Lobby by Rt. Hon Michael Martin MP, Speaker of the House of Commons, on February 21.
This over life-size statue recognises her contribution to British politics during her three successive terms of office as premier and records her rightful place in parliamentary history as the United Kingdom's first woman Prime Minister.
The statue was commissioned by the Advisory Committee on Works of Art in 2003 from the sculptor Antony Dufort. The statue cost £80,000 and was funded by the Works of Art Committee, supported by the Speaker's Art Fund. It was agreed that Margaret Thatcher would be shown during her last term of office, 1987-1990, and the sculptor worked from historic material as well as being given sittings from life. He has depicted her mid-debate, her right hand raised as she makes a point in the Chamber.
Mr Hugo Swire MP, Chairman of the Advisory Committee on Works of Art said,
"This is a very significant commission for the House of Commons. It is entirely appropriate that Margaret Thatcher's premiership has been recorded in this way for future visitors to the House. I think the way in which Antony Dufort has succeeded in showing her mid-debate will strike a chord with all those - from all sides of the political divide - who remember her oratory. I share Tony Banks's view that history demanded this commission. I am only sad that he did not live to see the finished statue."
The sculptor, Antony Dufort, said
"Creating the statue was an enormous but fascinating challenge. I already had considerable experience of making large freestanding sculptures, but the context of the House of Commons was particularly complex. Not only would it have to complement the scale and style of the three existing bronze statues of Prime Ministers in the Lobby, but also stand up to the scrutiny of Members as they passed it each working day"
The statue looks directly towards the doors to the Commons Chamber, facing the statue of Sir Winston Churchill. Around the walls are bronze busts of other Prime Ministers of the 20th Century, James Ramsay MacDonald, Harold Wilson, James Callaghan, Edward Heath, Anthony Eden, Harold Macmillan, Stanley Baldwin and Alec Douglas-Home.
The busts of Lord Callaghan and Sir Edward Heath were installed in Members Lobby in 2002 following changes to the rules governing the display of representations of politicians in the Palace of Westminster. A portrait, bust or statue of a former Prime Minister may be displayed either once five years have passed after their death, or when three Parliaments have elapsed after they have resigned the office of Prime Minister (provided they are no longer Members of the House and that a minimum of 12 years has elapsed, whichever of these events comes first).
Only three figures are missing from this otherwise complete historical series in Members' Lobby : Sir Henry Campbell-Bannerman, Andrew Bonar Law and Neville Chamberlain. The House of Commons will be very pleased to hear from anyone who has portraits busts of these former Prime Ministers.
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