This statue, or a version of it, was originally erected in St Vincent Place, Glasgow, where it was inaugurated on 6th Sept. 1854.
Proposals were made for some sort of a memorial, immediately after the Queen's visit to Glasgow on 14 Aug. 1849, but the first suggestion was to render in permanent material a triumphal arch at the north end of Glasgow Bridge (Glasgow Herald, 1 Sept. 1854). However, at a series of public meetings which followed, it was determined that an equestrian statue would be the most suitable form of commemoration. At a very early stage, the sculptor, James Wyatt, son of the more famous Matthew Cotes Wyatt, got wind of this, and attempted to interest the committee in an equestrian statue of the Queen, which he had completed in 1845, and which had already been approved by the Queen and Prince Albert. Although Wyatt appears to have visited Glasgow early in 1850, there is no evidence that his offer was even considered. (Wyatt Family Papers, RIBA Archives, Wy Fam 1/11/51-54) A meeting chaired by the Lord Provost, Sir James Anderson, was held on 29 Aug. 1850 to promote the memorial scheme. A committee had already been appointed to procure subscriptions, and this remained a private, rather than a publicly advertised subscription. Although the sculptor was not named at this meeting, the historian, Archibald Alison, who had been much involved with the erection in Glasgow of Marochetti's equestrian statue of the Duke of Wellington, expressed the hope at the end of his speech, that the memory of the Queen's visit "would be perpetuated by a statue which would form a companion to that of the illustrious hero which stood in Exchange Square". Alexander Hastie MP, proposing the resolution to set up a committee, including such grandees as the Duke of Hamilton, alluded to the troubled state of Europe at this time, and told the meeting that "they had cause to rejoice that they lived under the security of a constitutional Government". (Glasgow Herald, 3o Aug.1850)
Sir James Anderson, on behalf of a sub-committee, was granted an interview with Prince Albert at Holyrood House on 7 October 1851. It is clear that the aim was to elicit the Prince's support for the employment of Marochetti, but Albert would not make a straightforward recommendation. His response is reported in the North British Daily Mail (11 October 1851): " his Royal Highness, on the ground that it might be deemed invidious, had declined to name an artist. The Prince however expressed his high admiration of the equestrian statue of the Duke of Wellington in Glasgow, and also of other equestrian statues by the same sculptor, especially those of Philibert [sic] at Turin, and Richard Coeur de Lion in Hyde Park. He also alluded to works of the same nature by other artists, and thought the committee would have no difficulty in making a proper selection; and stated that any artist whom the committee might employ, would be acceptable to her Majesty and himself". On a meeting held on the following Thursday, the Prince's response was reported to the committee of subscribers, and it was unanimously agreed that Marochetti should be commissioned to create the statue. (North British Daily Mail, 11 October 1851)
When the choice was announced, the Art Journal, whilst admitting that Marochetti's Glasgow Wellington was "generally acknowledged to be the best of the statues erected in honour of our great military commander", and that his Richard Coeur de Lion was "a noble production ......in a high style of art", questioned the decision to employ a foreigner in this case. Whilst "most if not all similar efforts" by British artists had "proved failures", the journal believed that Foley, in his equestrian statue of General Hardinge, and his statue of John Hampden for the Palace of Westminster, had shown that he might be up to the job. (Art Journal, New Series, vol.III, 1 Nov. 1851, pp.278-279)
It is possible that among the equestrian statues which, in the Art Journal's view, had proved failures were the ones shown by British artists at the Great Exhibition. A gilded plaster equestrian statue of the Queen by Thomas Thornycroft confronted the visitor close to the entrance. The Queen was shown in riding attire, the folds of her skirt dramatically blown back, on a leaping horse, with both its front hooves in the air.. (The statue is illustrated in the Descriptive and Illustrated Catalogue of the Great Exhibition, and in L'Illustration, 1 May 1851)Further down the interior of the Crystal Palace, on the north side of the transept, and flanking the dais from which Victoria and Albert presided over the opening of the exhibition, were more sedate equestrian statues of the royal couple by James Wyatt. The statue of the Queen was presumably the same one that he had completed in 1845 and which he had wished to see taken up by the Glasgow committee. That of Albert had been completed more recently. All three of these royal statues met with some approval from the press. The reporter for Lloyds Weekly Newspaper (6 April 1851), for instance, found Thornycroft's statue of the Queen to be "a work which reflects credit on British art", and "probably the grandest and most spirited equestrian group ever erected in this country". Unfortunately for Thornycroft, who had invested high hopes in his work, the Times came down very heavily upon it, describing it as "a representation of the Queen which does not in the least resemble her, mounted on a horse, which may be modelled on the dummy at Angelo's, but which indubitably is not after nature". (Times, 15 April 1851) Furthermore, it was the Times reports which were taken up in a large number of other newspapers. After describing Thornycroft's statue with some approval, and long before the opening of the exhibition, the Daily News (29 March 1851) predicted, accurately only in the long term, that Marochetti would rise to the challenge. Thornycroft's queen, the reporter wrote, "may well side with Baron Marochetti's best equestrian statues, though he has not, that we are aware of, yet attempted feminine ones. He will however doubtless sustain the fame of France in this department at the forthcoming exhibition".
Only with the Glasgow statue did Marochetti enter the lists with a feminine equestrian figure, but it has to be admitted that his statue bears more than a passing resemblance, for its overall composition, to James Wyatt's. However, it was Thornycroft who bore a lifelong grudge against Marochetti for securing the Glasgow commission. His grand-daughter claimed that he had been the only other sculptor considered for the Glasgow job, though in saying this, she appears to have been dependent on family oral traditions. (Elfrida Manning, Marble and Bronze. The Art and Life of Hamo Thornycroft, London, 1982, pp.30-33) There is written evidence that Thornycroft had been interested in the Glasgow project, and resentful of Marochetti's winning the commisssion. He wrote in a letter to his friend and patron, W.B. Dickinson: "Marochetti was canvassing at Glasgow for the statue of the Queen when the Great Exhibition opened; this I learnt during a recent visit to Glasgow. Are you surprised that my equestrian statue found active enemies? I was a poacher on the manor of equestrian sculpture and might bag Royal game on ground which two men, Wyatt and Marochetti thought theirs only". (E. Thornycroft, later E. Manning, Bronze and Steel: The life of Thomas Thornycroft, sculptor and engineer, Shipston-on-Stour, 1932, p.53) What James Wyatt's thoughts were on this matter have apparently remained unrecorded.
In the autumn of 1851, Marochetti objected to the site in Enoch Square which had been designated for the statue, on the grounds that, in that position, the features of the Queen would be perpetually in shadow, as she would be north-facing. His preference was for a site in St. Vincent Place, fronting Buchanan Street. (Caledonian Mercury, 10 Nov. 1851. The statue was reported to be nearing completion, by the Builder of 19 Feb. 1853 (p.118). Before it was cast in bronze, it was inspected by Sir James Anderson and Alexander Hastie, who found it to be "a most successful work of art". At the request of the sub-committee, it was also inspected by Earl Granville and Viscount Canning, who reported that they had been "much struck with the beauty of this work", and went on, "Baron Marochetti appears to us to have done full justice to his reputation by the successful general treatment of the subject - the strong likeness of the Queen, and the repose and dignity, without any artificial effect of her Majesty's position on the horse". (Glasgow Herald, 1 Sept. 1854)
At the inauguration on the 6 September 1854,, Sir James Anderson claimed that the statue, though intended to be "the property of the public", had been "to a great extent, raised by private subscription". (Caledonian Mercury, 7 Sept.,1854). His qualifying his claim with the phrase "to a great extent" was an admission that some of the money had come from public funds. The Builder for 27 Sept. 1851 (vol.IX, n.451, p.615) had reported a meeting of the Glasgow town council, at which the sum of £500 had been voted towards the statue. Marochetti was guest of honour at a banquet held later in the day. At the dinner, Archibald Alison defended the committee's choice of a foreign sculptor, saying that despite the desirability of supporting native talent, there were those "who thought that the fine arts constituted a republic, where there is no distinction of nation and country - and that wherever genius exists, there a countryman is to be found". Alison even hoped that Marochetti would "have further opportunities in Glasgow". He spoke of a proposed statue of Peel and a monument commemorating the united armies of France and England "which shall bear, perhaps, the name of Napier, Raglan, or Cambridge; and on one side of it shall be represented the name of Sebastopol, and on the other the name of Cronstadt". This was fighting talk, as the fall of Sebastopol was still a year away. Marochetti responded, speaking of the honours which Glasgow had done him, and of his acceptance by English and Scottish artists "as one of their industrious body". He echoed Alison's insistence on the internationalism of art, claiming that "art is of no country - art is of all countries", and ended his speech with a proposal of a toast to the city and the words of the city's motto, "Let Glasgow Flourish".
(Morning Chronicle, 9 Sept. 1854)
The critical response was very mixed. While the Glasgow Courier (7 Sept. 1854) and otherpapers were unstinting in their praise, the Building Chronicle (16 September, 1854), a short-lived Scottish architectural journal, devoted a lengthy article to the statue. It made an unfavourable comparison with Marochetti's earlier Wellington statue of the Duke of Wellington, finding fault with the equestrian Victoria on a number of counts. Not only was the whole statue too small, but the figure of the Queen was too small in relation to the horse. Comparing the statue with the standing one of the Duke, the paper found the attempt to portray the horse in a walking movement, with two hooves off the ground, had been a failure. It is this observation, together with the wood engraving in the Illustrated London News (16 Sept. 1854, p.249), accompanying the report of the inauguration, which enables us to affirm that the statue now in George Square is a modified version of the one originally erected. The Building Chronicle evenspecified that "to support the left hind leg, as a prop for the group, the hoof rests upon a plant, which a jealous member of the Scottish Rights Association may discover to have a suspicious resemblance to a thistle".
Ray McKenzie has proposed, in his book Public Sculpture of Glasgow (Liverpool, 2002, pp.126-131), that a modified version of the statue, in which the disproportion between the Queen and her horse, and the unstable walking position were modified, was substituted for the original by Marochetti himself in 1866, when it was required to have a statue of the Queen as a pendant to the newly created equestrian statue of Prince Albert for George Square. This supposition is backed up by a report in the Glasgow Herald of 5 April 1866. This described proceedings at a meeting of the Glasgow Magistrates Committee, which approved the design for a new pedestal for both statues. The committee simultaneously approved the expense of the new pedestal for the Queen's statue, "including the removal of the statue to London", and "making the necessary alterations". Not only the Illustrated London News engraving, but two casts of a statuette version of the group, one of which is in the National Gallery of Scotland, the other in the Girodet Museum at Montargis, in France, convey a better sense of the original design. than the statue at present in George Square.
Though reliefs were projected for the statue in its first incarnation, these were said not to have been completed when the statue was unveiled in 1854 (Caledonian Mercury, 7 Sept. 1854) It is probable that the reliefs at present on the pedestal were only added at the time of the double inauguration on 18 October 1866. They represent the Queen visiting the crypt of Glasgow cathedral, and the Queen conferring a knighthood on Sir James Anderson aboard the ship Fairy.
Plaster casts of Marochetti's equestrian Queen Victoria were shown at the Dublin Great Industrial Exhibition of 1853, and again at the Peace Fete in the Crystal Palace at Sydenham on 9 May 1856. A certain number of small bronze versions of the statue were produced, as stated above. One of these, cast in solid silver, was a feature in the Bayswater studio of the photographer Camille Silvy. Mentioned in his 1900 memoirs by Nadar (Félix Tournachon), placed in a chapel-like room in the studio, it evidently replaced a coloured marble statue of the Queen enthroned as The Queen of Peace, which had been there earlier. The object of this chapel was to provoke the Queen's curiosity and to persuade her to come to the studio to have her photograph taken by Silvy, but, despite the fact that Prince Albert and Princess Alice were photographed by Silvy, the Queen herself never came. (Nadar, Quand j'etais photographe, Paris, 1900, p. 236. See also P.Ward-Jackson, "Carlo Marochetti et les photographes", Revue de l'art, no.104- 1994-2, pp.43-48)