This statue of James Oswald (179-1853), originally erected in Sandyford Place, off Sauchiehall Street, was paid for by a private subscription, with contributions from Oswald's "many personal friends and admirers". Oswald was the son of a wealthy landowner and merchant, and represented Glasgow as MP 1832-37 and 1839-47. He was a supporter of the movement which resulted in the Reform Bill of 1832,and became the first MP for Glasgow to be elected according to the principles enshrined in the bill. In 1841 he inherited the family estate at Auchincruive, to which he retired after compeleting his second term in parliament.
The statue was relocated to George Square on 26 September 1875, following a petition presented to the Glasgow City Council by Oswald's great nephew, in which dissatisfaction was expressed with Oswald occupying a place of lesser honour than his rival Sir Robert Peel, whose statue by John Mossman was erected in the square in 1859.
The modern sartorial representation of Oswald in frock coat with top hat and cane, was exceptional for its period. The Builder referred slightingly to it in an article of 1874 as "....an effigy in Glasgow, representing a worthy of that city clad in frock coat with hat in hand (one of Christie's best), which is very provocative of laughter when on a wintry day he offers the spectator a hatful of snow". The author concluded, "Far better make a monument an architectural one, and if a likeness is wanted be content with a medallion in bronze or marble, than produce such scarecrows".
Marochetti executed a medallion relief portrait of James Oswald in 1849, one year after he had settled in England, indicating his desire to re-establish contact with the city in which his statue of the Duke of Wellington had been inaugurated in 1841. Two versions of this, apparently in white statuary porcelain or Parian are known, one in a French private collection (see entry), the other in the Kelvin Hall Stores in Glasgow. Art UK describe the latter as being in plaster, but are probably mistaken about this. Marochetti also executed a bust of Oswald, which was shown at the Scottish exhibition of Arts and Manufactures Connected with Architecture in January 1856 (Glasgow Herald, 2 Jan. 1856, p.7).