The Duke is represented "wearing the uniform of a Field Marshal, holding in his left hand the hat belonging to that rank, while his right rests easily on his hip". (description taken from a report in the Times, 1 Aug. 1866, on the inauguration of another cast of this statue at Stratfield Saye) This image is clearly inspired by Sir Thomas Lawrence's 1814 portrait of the Duke, now in the Royal Collection at Windsor Castle, although Marochetti has chosen to omit the Sword of State, which Wellington is holding in the portrait.
On the 9th December 1852 a meeting was convened by the Mayor of Leeds, John Hope Shaw, to consider a subscription for some form of memorial to the Duke of Wellington. The question debated was whether this should take the form of a statue or a charitable institution. The banker William Beckett, a very influential figure in the community, did not attend, but wrote to recommend a statue. It was finally resolved to raise a bronze statue, costing no more than £2,000. A list of the committee members was published in the Leeds Mercury on 18th December, and by the 24th the paperreported that £1,073 had been raised, and gave a full list of the subscribers with the amount of their contributions.
According to the Art Journal (October 1853, p.267), the committee asked six sculptors to send in designs, but by the time some of these designs had been received, the committee decided after all to give the job to Marochetti. The facts of the case had been publicly avowed, according to the journal's reporter, but he was not able to inform readers whether or not Marochetti had been amongst the sculptors invited to submit. This was, he claimed, the kind of stitch-up which "disgusts artists with public testimonials". Once the committee had decided to hold a competition, it was "in honour bound to carry out their own act in all its integrity". The decision by the committee to entrust the work to Marochetti was reported in the Times for 29 August 1853. The cost of the statue was estimated to be around 1,500 guineas.
By the 4th December 1854 the statue was reported to have been completed. It was intended that it should be placed in front of Cuthbert Brodrick's new Town Hall, which had not yet been completed. In the meantime, an arrangement was made to place it temporarily in the gardens of Leeds Infirmary. It was moved to a site in front of the Town Hall in time for the opening of the building by Queen Victoria on 6th September 1858, and remained there until 1937, when it was removed to its present position on Woodhouse Moor. Placed not far from the University, the statue is regularly "decorated" by pranksters.
In 1866 another cast of this statue was erected near the back gate of the country house of the Dukes of Wellington, Stratfield Saye (Hants), on top of a column designed by Marochetti.