Sculpture Journal

Framing Victoria: royal portraiture and architectural sculpture in Victorian Britain

Sculpture Journal (2014), 23, (2), 197–207.

Abstract

Public statues of Queen Victoria proliferated across Britain and its Empire in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. In this article I investigate the local import of this global phenomenon. I argue that the widespread dissemination of statues of Victoria reflected the stability of her image and the elasticity of its meaning. I focus on statues by John Steell, Harry Bates and Alfred Drury, which were incorporated into the façades respectively of the Royal Scottish Academy in Edinburgh in the 1840s; the Victoria Law Courts in Birmingham in the 1890s; and the Victoria and Albert Museum in London in the early 1900s. Because they are incorporated into the façades of buildings, these statues do not stand out in the urban landscape as statues of Victoria usually do. Yet these particular statues offer an illuminating insight into the diverse ways in which statues of a monarch recognizable across the globe could be invested with specific, localized significance.

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Author details

Martin, Eoin