Sculpture Journal

The monument to Men Murdered in the Sinai Desert: empire and Orientalism in St Paul’s Cathedral

Sculpture Journal (2022), 31, (2), 155–174.

Abstract

The monuments in St Paul’s Cathedral, nearly three hundred objects, include large-scale marble and bronze sculptures as well as works of humbler design and/or materials. Much of the scholarship devoted to these memorials centres on impressive monuments by famous sculptors that venerate high-ranking military heroes as well as significant political and cultural figures. In contrast, this article investigates the monument to Men Murdered in the Sinai Desert (1883), a brass panel by the London-based firm Hart, Son, Peard & Co., to call attention to this understudied genre of monuments in the cathedral. Known at the time as the Palmer Expedition, the events commemorated by the panel seized the public imagination as a precursor of Major General Charles Gordon’s fall at Khartoum in 1885. Resurrecting a long-forgotten story through archival sources and press accounts, this article sheds light on a hitherto overlooked work concerned with British involvement in the Middle East, specifically Egypt and Sudan. The panel thus serves as a lens to reveal the significance of Orientalist visual culture in St Paul’s pantheon. The analysis of this panel, which is dedicated to spies rather than soldiers, aims to reshape our understanding of the way the monuments in St Paul’s memorialize different types of service and project notions of valour.

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Author details

Hewitson, Madeline