Richard Coeur de Lion (statue)

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The statue of King Richard I outside the Houses of Parliament

Richard Coeur de Lion is an equestrian statue of Richard I of England, who was also known as Richard the Lionheart, created by Baron Carlo Marochetti. A clay model was displayed at The Great Exhibition in 1851, with the final statue being completed in 1856 after donations were made by the public. Other locations to display the statue were initially considered, including on top of Marble Arch. It was located outside the Palace of Westminster, London, in Old Palace Yard, where it was damaged during the Second World War.

Description[edit]

The statue shows King Richard I on horseback, wearing a mail shirt and lifting a sword into the air. Marochetti described his work as being inspired by Richard I rather than accurately depicting a 13th-century knight.[1] Bas-relief panels showing the Battle of Ascalon and Richard pardoning Bertran de Born were added in 1866.[2]

History[edit]

The statue was created by Baron Carlo Marochetti and is located in Old Palace Yard outside the Palace of Westminster, opposite Westminster Abbey in London.[1] Marochetti had a reputation for creating equestrian statues, having created a statue of the Duke of Wellington for display in Glasgow in 1840.[2] A clay model of the statue was displayed as one of two statues positioned outside the main building in the Great Exhibition held in Hyde Park in 1851.[1] Art critic John Ruskin said of the model, "it will tend more to educate the public with respect to art than anything we have done for centuries".[2]

Following the exhibition, £5,000 was raised by private donations for a bronze version to be created, and the statue was completed in 1856. Initially a plaster version was placed in New Palace Yard outside the Palace of Westminster, but Charles Barry, the architect of the palace, was opposed to its placement there. Other sites were considered, including outside Buckingham Palace, Horse Guards Parade and even on top of Marble Arch, but it was finally decided to place the statue in its present location of Old Palace Yard. Cornish granite was used to construct the pedestal, and the statue was installed on 26 October 1860.[2]

During the winter of 1908–09, frost damaged one of the forelegs of the horse part of the statue.[2] The statue was also damaged during the Second World War when a bomb hit Palace Yard outside the Houses of Parliament. The sword was bent and the tail of the horse had several holes from shrapnel. The Minister of Works was asked following the war during his department's question time in the House of Parliament to look into repairing the statue.[3] However, damage to the pedestal can still be seen.[2]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c "Marochetti's Coeur de Lion". The Times (23771). 7 November 1860. p. 7. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f "Richard Coeur de Lion conservation work". Parliament.uk. Retrieved 17 September 2011. 
  3. ^ "The Statues of London". The Times (50400). 14 March 1946. p. 5. 

Coordinates: 51°29′57″N 0°07′32″W / 51.499157°N 0.125584°W / 51.499157; -0.125584