June Artwork of the Month: Queen Victoria by John Gibson

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01 June 2018

To mark the 180th anniversary of her coronation on 28 June 1838, this month's artwork is a statue of Queen Victoria sculpted by John Gibson for the Prince's Chamber in the Palace of Westminster.

The 2.5m tall marble sculpture depicts the Queen sitting on a gothic throne with figures of Justice (left) and Clemency (right) standing on either side.

On the pedestal beneath the throne are bas-relifs representing Science (a young man pondering geometry), Commerce (a woman with a ship, anchor and merchandise) and Industry (a figure with telegraph wires and a steam engine) - each of which was central to the Victorian's vision of nineteenth-century Britain.

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The statue's history

The statue group was commissioned in 1850 by the Prince Albert-led Fine Arts Commission as part of the decoration of the New Palace of Westminster.

It was sculpted in Rome by John Gibson (1790-1866) - one of the leading neo-classical sculptors of the period - before being shipped to London in 1855.

Prince Albert, Queen Victoria's husband, took a particularly keen interest in the statue, asking Gibson to make alterations to the crown, buttons and shoes.

In 1957 the figures of Justice and Clemency were removed and placed in storage, something that had been argued for as early as 1856 by those who felt the group was too large for Prince's Chamber.

In 1976 Justice and Clemency were returned to their original positions, where they remain today.

Further information

Images: Details of 'Queen Victoria supported by Justice and Clemency' by John Gibson, marble, 1855 (Parliamentary Art Collection, WOA S088)

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