According to a report in the Times, the need for such a memorial as this was suggested by Florence Nightingale and subsequently taken up by Queen Victoria. (John Bull, 23 June 1855, quoting the Times) The Queen's interest in it coincided with a moment at which the affairs of the allies in the war against Russia in the Crimea were at their lowest ebb. With Sebastopol under siege, but with no sign of surrender,the government of the Earl of Aberdeen was brought down by a demand for a commission to inquire into the conduct of the war. On 4 Feb.1855, in defiance of her own feelings about him, the Queen called upon Palmerston to form a new government, and it appears to have been at one of their earliest meetings that she mentioned a wish to see a monument erected at Scutari, in memory of the many members of the British forces who had died there. The immediate priority, as she and the new cabinet were aware, was the improvement of sanitary conditions at the Scutari Hospital, but the Queen was adamant about the need for the memorial. On 1 April she wrote to Lord Panmure, now Secretary of State for War, complaining that she had heard no more from Palmerston on the subject of the memorial. Her advisers had told her that the matter needed to be pursued with some urgency, "as in Turkey everything is so soon destroyed and desecrated". (Douglas and Dalhousie Ramsay, The Panmure Papers, vol.I, pp.139/40). She wrote again on the subject on 23 May (Panmure Papers, vol.I, p.207), and this letter finally prompted a response from Panmure, assuring her that he hoped "at an early day to submit to Your Majesty a design for that object".(Panmure Papers, vol.I p.208) On 21 June, a rendez-vous at Buckingham Palace was arranged for the following day, at which Marochetti was to present his model, the Queen hoping that Panmure could also be present (Panmure Papers, vol. I, p.247).
the Queen's approval appears to have been given, since Marochetti wrote to Panmure on 30 July 1855 giving his estimate for the memorial. He agreed to execute and transport the memorial, executed to the design of which Panmure had approved, and of which Marochetti had sent a drawing, for the sum of £15,000. He went on "it will be eighty feet high from the ground to the iron cross which will surmount it, in grey Cornish granite, not polished. The blocks being not less than from twenty to thirty cubic feet. The four weeping Victories will be twelve feet high, and the corners of the base will bear the Royal Arms. On the four panels inscriptions will be engraved according to the models you will give me". After listing what he considered appropriate instalments for payment, Marochetti concluded "I will commence the work immediately and order the blocks. I hope that within fifteen months the monument may be erected on the spot. I will proceed without interruption".(TNA WO32/5999)
It was suggested by one of Panmure's advisors that the sanction of the Treasury should be obtained before Marochetti was given the go ahead. A note from Panmure however orders "Yes, write to the Treasury. Meanwhile send this letter". The letter agreed to all Marochetti's conditions. The Treasury sanctioned the expense, but, then, at the beginning of March the following year, the sculptor asked for an additional £2,500, since it had now been decided to have the upper, architectural portions of the monument polished. This additional expense also received the sanction of the Treasury. (TNA WO32/5999)
The peace talks which marked the end of the war took place in Paris between 25 February and 30 March 1856 and on 16 April, the Times was able to give a pretty full account of the design of the Scutari Memorial. Its description, perhaps written with some help from Marochetti himself, runs as follows:
"We have now earned a right to hang our tattered flags in peaceful halls, to raise the trophies of victory, and to build the monuments of war. It is not too much to predict that the monument designed by Baron Marochetti for the heights of Scutari will always occupy a foremost place in the memorials of the war just ended. In substance gray granite, in form an obelisk, rising to the height of 100 feet, and surmounted by a Latin cross - strange emblem in that land of the crescent! - it will be an erection worthy of the event which it commemorates, and of the enduring material out of which it is to be wrought. As seen from a distance, the effect will be very severe - perhaps more severe than grand - with its rigidity of outline and its cool gray colour. Nearer the effect will be very solemn and appropriate to the scene. First of all, the base of the monument, or at least a considerable portion of it, is of unpolished granite, whereas the obelisk above is polished. Hence at once, in the mere sensuous effect , a deeper, calmer, softer tone, which is entirely in unison with the expression of four angels that stand at the four corners of the pedestal, and give their character to the monument. Although there are four figures, they are all the same in form, attitude and expression, the artist making a bold use of monotony to intensify the feeling. They are not caryatides, although standing very much in the position of caryatides, with their heads bending under the cornice and their wings folded into a beautiful ellipse, rising above the head and sweeping down to cross below their feet. They are angels of victory, colossal in size, arms falling down and crossed, a crown in one hand, a palm branch in the other; and nothing can be more perfect than the repose of the whole figure - nothing can more aptly express the feeling of the place than the expression of the countenance. Exultation would not befit a locality associated with many sad feelings, and sorrow would ill befit a place that recalls many glorious recollections. Accordingly the angel of victory at Scutari is too proud to be sad and too great to be proud. The sorrow of the countenance is toned down to solemn thought, which is chiefly marked in the eye; the exultation is toned down to superb content, which is chiefly marked in the mouth; and with heads slightly drooping, and masses of hair spread out to overshadow the bust, the four colossal angels are to stand thus for ever at the four corners of the plinth, each with folded wings, and each looking down with the self-same expression of divine content. The whole effect is very solemn and suggestive, and he must be indeed a callous man who can gaze on it unmoved."
On 9 May 1856, a Peace Fête was held in the Crystal Palace at Sydenham, attended by the Queen and Prince Albert. The main events of the fête were the unveilings of a full-size plaster and wood replica of the memorial for Scutari and of a Peace Trophy also by Marochetti. As well as these works, the stage erected for the royal couple and their entourage was flanked by plaster models of two of Marochetti's equestrian statues, the Richard Coeur de Lion and the statue of the Queen, recently erected in Glasgow. The spectator found himself, in the words of the Daily News (12 May 1856) "blockaded by Marochettis". Despite the largely unfavourable response to the Peace Trophy, this looked very much like Marochetti's finest hour, and proof that he had become a national institution. The model of the Scutari Memorial was unveiled to the suitably mournful strains of the Marche Funèbre from Beethoven's Eroica Symphony. The mood changed to one of exultation, with the unveiling of the massive, polychrome Peace Trophy, accompanied by a performance of See the Conquering Hero Comes.
The Scutari memorial was on the whole well-received, though the Daily News (12 May 1856) found little to recommend in either of Marochetti's new works. Mistaking the sculptor's place of origin, the paper complained "those who remember that we still have amongst us a Baily, a McDowell, a Gibson, a Macdonald, a Bell, a Marshall, may feel a little surprised that we should have to go so far as Sicily to catch a sculptor". "An obelisk" the reporter claimed, "is an obelisk", whilst the angels were "as spiritless in execution as Moore's sentimentalists in the 'Loves of the Angels' . The roughness of finish in the final memorial seems not to have been so evident in the model, because the reporter went on to complain of the angels, that they were "refined down to a degree of prettiness which would make them perfectly presentable in a drawing room, but which would render them intolerable above the clouds. As for their wings, they would appear to have been combed and folded by a Bond-street hairdresser".
Though the money to pay for the memorial had yet to be voted by parliament, the news that Marochetti had been awarded a government commission seems to have leaked out. On 2 June 1856, a letter from a group of sculptors calling themselves the Sculptors Institute, and including most of the more prominent British-born practitioners of the day, appeared in the press (Morning Chronicle and Morning Post), protesting against "a foreign sculptor" being given such important national commissions as the Scutari Memorial and the Monument to the Duke of Wellington for St Paul's. On the same day, in the House of Commons, the trouble-shooting M.P. for Sheffield, John Arthur Roebuck, asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Sir George Cornewall Lewis, whether there was to be a competition for the Scutari Memorial, and was told that "an agreement had been entered into with M. Marochetti for the work in question". This exchange was reported in at least three of the daily papers (Times, Morning Chronicle and Morning Post, 3June1856), but somehow failed to make it into Hansard.
Three days later the House was asked to vote on a sum of £17,500 for the memorial. This gave rise to some debate. Two M.P.s questioned the propriety of placing the memorial at Scutari. One of the problems envisioned with this location was the supposed likelihood of vandalism by the Turks, a consideration which had clearly already prompted those responsible to opt for the relatively vandal-resistant material of granite. G. Bowyer , M.P. for Dundalk, thought it "perfectly monstrous to demand the sum of £17,500 for such a purpose". Palmerston defended the project, saying that "the vote was not asked at random but it was the amount required for a monument of extreme beauty, which would, he was sure, be an object of admiration to all who saw it". Bowyer, who had insisted that the public should be given a chance to see and judge the design, was told by Palmerston, that he could have seen it, if he so wished, at the Crystal Palace. The vote was then agreed to (Hansard, Parliamentary Debates).
Several issues relating to the memorial were raised in the House of Lords on 8 July. After making some criticisms of the design, the Earl of Harrington asked four questions; by whose authority it had been undertaken, who had selected Marochetti,from what fund the payment was to be made, and why there had been no competition for the design. Lord Panmure answered for the government: "with reference to the source from which the idea proceeded, he might say generally that it was undertaken by the government in accordance with the public wish that such a monument should be erected at Scutari, and that the money for the purpose had been voted by Parliament. As to the selection of the artist, if there were any fault in this respect, that the responsibility rested with the government". He justified there not having been any competition on the grounds that several of the most eminent sculptors declined to enter competition, and he considered that Marochetti, by the works he had done here, had earned himself the right to be called a British sculptor.
Lord Palmerston, defending the vote for the funds for the memorial on the 5 June had told the House of Commons that portions of it were already on their way to Scutari. This may have been a tactical economy with the truth. Certainly at this stage the precise site for the memorial had not yet been chosen. As early as 1 Dec.1855, a short-lived Scottish journal, the Building Chronicle had announced that the memorial would be "executed in West of England granite, due contracts for its immediate execution having been entered into". On 18 March 1857, Marochetti wrote to tell Panmure that, as the statues and base were ready to be shipped, he needed to know where it was to stand. It was proposed that the sculptor should be put in touch with the British Ambassador to the Sublime Porte in Constantinople, Lord Stratford de Redcliffe. By 4 May the ambassador informed lord Clarendon that he had reconnoitred the British Burial Ground at Scutari with a Major Gordon of the Royal Engineers (not the future General Gordon), and they had settled on a spot "behind the graves in front of which, along the sea cliff, are ranged the tombs of numerous officers interred there". However he advised "it will be desirable......to raise the base of the monument on a square platform in order to give it the fullest effect when viewed from the sea by strangers approaching Constantinople". (TNA WO32/5999)
On 11 July Marochetti sent a drawing of the base of the memorial to help Major Gordon decide on the best foundation for it. Rather deviously he attempted at the same time to extract further funds for the erection and transport at Constantinople, but was reminded that he had agreed to pay for all such things himself. On 31 September, informing him that he was about to leave for Constantinople, Marochetti requested that Panmure should send the inscriptions to the granite merchant, Mr Freeman, at 27 Millbank Street, Westminster, since he himself was staying at his country house in France. He would prefer that the inscriptions were carved in England, but if necessary they could be carved in Turkey. This matter was not to be so easily resolved. (TNA WO32/5999)
Lord Stratford de Redcliffe wrote to Lord Clarendon on 21 October, while Marochetti was still in Constantinople, saying that the sculptor had "approved highly" of the spot selected for the memorial. The sculptor had made his arrangements in concert with Major Gordon for its erection. He did however suggest that the presence at the summit of the memorial of a large cross might "give umbrage to the fanatics, and excite unfriendly feelings". He had already discussed this matter with Marochetti, but thought he should mention it to Clarendon also. When Panmure got to hear of this, he scribbled on a War Department Minute Paper, "I told Marochetti over and over again that his cross would be offensive. It is easily omitted and will improve the obelisk". (TNA WO32/5999 and FO352/49(3)(262))
The sculptor was in fact quite keen that his memorial should include a cross. He wrote to Sir B.Hawes "It is certain that there are crosses upon nearly all of the private monuments in the cemetery at Scutari; they are all of them untouched and the Turks have a great respect for resting places and funeral monuments, but the Scutari monument is one hundred feet high and will be seen from the Sea of Marmora, the Bosphorus and nearly every part of Constantinople,. There is not to my knowledge a more conspicuous place. I think it is important to show distinctly that there lie the bones of Christian heroes who fell for the defence of Turkey". He proposed that instead of a high golden cross, the monument should be crowned by a smaller dark bronze one, or even by what he described as "a sort of well known ornament" in the form of "an agglomeration of of points, sharp ends, which from every point of view may give the idea of a cross". He provided a lightening sketch of what is indeed a convention which has been adopted on occasion as a representation of the cross. (TNA WO32/5999)
Lord Stratford de Redcliffe finally gave his opinion that the cross should either be of a respectable size on the top of the memorial, or be shown lower down, on the pedestal of the obelisk. In the end it appears to have been omitted entirely. The bureaucrats went to very considerable lengths to obtain acceptable translations of the inscription, the English version of which reads as follows: "To the memory/ of the officers and Men of the / British Army and Navy,/ who in the War against Russia/ in 1854, 1855 and 1856/ died for their Country/ This monument was raised/ by Queen Victoria and her People/ 1857". These words were originally to have been in English, French, Italian and Turkish, but after much discussion it was decided that Arabic should be used rather than Turkish. After versions had been produced in England by learned persons, the task of getting a good arabic translation was confided to Lord Stratford de Redcliffe. (TNA WO32/5999)
On 8 September 1858 Marochetti left Vaux-sur-Seine for Constantinople, to supervise the final stages of the erection, writing at the last minute to ask Sir B. Hawes to send by the first courrier the versions of the inscriptions, "at all events those upon which there are no doubts". He only intended to spend a short time in Turkey, and a letter to Thomas Donaldson, the architect, of 16 Nov., reports that he had returned to London that very morning from Scutari. (TNA WO32/5999 and letter to Donladson in the author's collection)
While Marochetti was still in Turkey, a reporter for the Daily News, describing the laying of the foundation stone of the Crimean Memorial Church in Constantinople, an event which occured on the 19 October, referred to the Scutari Memorial, rising up amongst the graves of "our buried heroes". "Out of the midst of these...., and plainly visible from the site of the new edifice - though as yet unveiled in its cloud of scaffolding - rises Marochetti's pillar, a graceful and fitting supplement to the grander monument of our national gratitude which this memorial church is to constitute. Taken together, they will stand alone in their elegant and enduring significance, long after the Crescent has become an historic memory in Europe". The memorial does not appear to have had any official inauguration. It was not until 5 May 1859 that the Treasury authorised the final instalment. This £1,274-15 made up "the full £17,500 for the National Monument at Scutari". (TNA WO32/5999)