Richard I , known as The Lion Heart or Coeur de Lion (1157-1199). King of England, Duke of Normandy and of Aquitaine, and Count of Anjou. He was the third son of Henry II. His rejection of the French Princess Alice to whom he was betrothed in infancy, later caused ambivalence in his relations with her brother, King Philip of France. Richard's early life was spent securing his domains in Aquitaine, a project frequently thwarted by his father's tendency to play his sons off against each other. On Henry's death in 1189, Richard was crowned in Westminster Abbey. He immediately sold offices and privileges to raise money for a Crusade, on which he embarked in alliance with Philip of France in the following year. On the way to Palestine, Richard stormed Messina and Limasol, arriving at his destination with a vastly increased war chest. While in Cyprus he married Berengaria of Navarre. Together, Richard and Philip bloodily concluded the two year siege of Acre. After Philip's return to France, Richard occupied Ascalon, but stopped short of Jerusalem. However, his victories over the saracen leader, Saladin, enabled him in 1192 to make a three year truce, permitting Christian pilgrims to visit Jerusalem. News had reached Richard of his brother John's overtures to Philip of France and of his attempt to seize power in England. On his way back, however, Richard was captured by Leopold of Austria and held to ransom by the Emperor Heinrich VI. After paying the ransom and symbolically surrendering his kingdom to the Emperor, he was finally released in 1194. Richard briefly reasserted his authority in England, and then returned to France to make good the losses sustained in his absence. By 1199, Normandy and the Vexin region had been secured and a treaty had been signed with Philip. Richard had turned his attention to further incursions in the Limousin region, when he was wounded in the shoulder by a cross-bow bolt at the castle of Châlus-Chabrol. He died from gangrene poisoning after forgiving the man who wounded him and naming John heir to the throne of England.
In Marochetti's statue, Richard is shown wearing a crowned helmet, a coat of chain mail and surcoat. His right hand raises his sword in the air. He is mounted on a charger, shown as if pawing the ground, with one hoof raised. The reliefs on the base represent Richard on his deathbed forgiving the archer Bertrand de Gourdon, and the Taking of Ascalon.
Marochetti had established his European reputation by sculpting, for his birthplace Turin, an equestrian statue of the 16th century Duke of Savoy, Emanuele Filiberto. He was made a Baron of the Kingdom of Sardinia after its inauguration in November 1838. . The statue was exhibited to some acclaim in the courtyard of the Louvre before its despatch to Italy, and it became the work with which the sculptor was chiefly identified, certainly up to the time when he created what he must have perceived as its sequel, the statue of Richard Coeur de Lion. During the 1830s and 1840s Marochetti received several commissions for public statues in France, but London's statue of the crusader king was anticipated in a commission for the town of Aigues-Mortes, which was initially confided to Marochetti, but then finally taken from him, and given to a rival, James Pradier. This was for a statue of Saint Louis. It was never to have been an equestrian statue, but would have been the first of a series of images of great crusaders created around the middle of the century.
Not long after Marochetti's arrival in England, plans for the Great Exhibition were set in motion, and it must very soon have become evident that some continental states would be sending to the exhibition the sort of romantic historical sculptural groups which were common on the other side of the channel, but which were a novelty in England. Marochetti would certainly already have known one of the works which were to be sent, Eugene Simonis's equestrian statue of Godfrey de Bouillon, leader of the first crusade. The Belgian sculptor, as well as working under the influence of Marochetti's statue of Emanuele Filiberto, had wanted Marochetti's Parisian bronze founder, Soyer, to cast his statue (see J.Lennep, ed.,The Monuments and Statues of Brussels, Antwerp/Brussels, 2000, pp.36-42). Soyer was having legal and financial problems in 1846 and was unable to take it on, so Simonis took his statue elsewhere. It was probably in a spirit of competition with the Belgian that Marochetti embarked on his statue of Richard I, hoping to make a mark with it in his adoptive country.
The memoirs of one of Marochetti's studio assistants records that the actual execution in clay of the Richard I was a collaborative effort, involving manual input from a number of the sculptor's friends. These were the painter Victor Mottez, Henri Gueneau de Mussy, personal physician to the exiled French king Louis Philippe, and the singers Mario and Garcia. The finished model was set up outside the western entrance to the Crystal Palace, overlooking the parking area for hired vehicles. It was in place when the exhibition opened on the 1 May 1851, and was so amateurishly put together that, on the following day, the horse's tail was found to have fallen off overnight. (C.E. Hallé, Notes from a Painter's Life, London, 1909, pp. 5-6)
There was little critical response to the statue in 1851, but there was later very near general agreement that it had been one of the more popular features of the exhibition. Towards the end of June, the Queen and Prince Albert took King Leopold of the Belgians to look at it, and, presumably, to compare it with Simonis's Godfrey, which Leopold had commissioned, and which was on show as part of the Belgian section inside the Crystal Palace (Illustrated London News, 28 June 1851, p.630).
While the exhibition was still running, Major General Charles Richard Fox proposed that the Richard I should be cast in bronze and erected as a memorial to the exhibition. He suggested that it should mark one end of the site of the Crystal Palace in Hyde Park, and that a statue of Prince Albert should stand at the other end, to commemorate his role in promoting the exhibition (Punch, 2 August 1851, p.55).
At the closure of the exhibition, the statue was put in storage, and for the next two years, no more was heard about it. Then, in May 1853, an open invitation was circulated, for a meeting to promote its erection somewhere in London, as a memorial to the exhibition. The original printed brochure includes a long list of celebrated supporters of the cause, amongst whom were the Duke of Sutherland, Lord Lansdowne, the Earl of Shaftesbury, the sculptor J.H.Foley, the novelist Thackeray, the ceramic manufacturer, W.T.Copeland, Benjamin Disraeli, and Massimo d'Azeglio, the recently retired Prime Minister of Piedmont (a copy of this brochure is in the collection of the descendants of Marochetti). The chief moving spirits behind this endeavour were Lord Hatherton, and Henry Reeve, foreign affairs reporter for the Times, and probably also Major General Fox, who had first made the proposal. Reeve had known Marochetti from as far back as 1839, and thanks to him, the sculptor could always rely on support from the Times, which, the day before the meeting, announced that the Queen would be giving £200 towards the project, and Prince Albert £100 (Times, 3 June 1853). At the meeting, held in Willis's Rooms on the 4 June 1853, Major General Fox reiterated his desire to see Richard erected in Hyde Park, but Lord Lansdowne, chairing the meeting, took the side of discretion in proposing that the question of site be left open for the time being. The motion in this form was carried, and a committee was set up to manage the subscription.(Times, 6 June 1853)
When presenting the case for the statue at the meeting, Earl Granville mentioned the coincidence that, at the very moment when they were promoting the erection of a Piedmontese sculptor's statue of a king of England, the Piedmontese statesman, Massimo d'Azeglio, was a guest of that sculptor in London, and the Duke of Genoa, the younger brother of Vittore Emanuele, was paying his first visit to the British capital. Nobody referred to the conflict of Russian and Turkish interests in the Near East, or to the statue's contemporary relevance, at a moment when concern over the guardianship of the Holy Places in Jerusalem had been somewhat anachronistically revived as a symbolic crux of this conflict. The Piedmontese were eventually to earn British support in the risorgimento struggle, by sending troops to the Crimea to assist the British and French forces there, but, at the time of the meeting in 1853, the war was not yet a certainty. Though the diplomatic ramifications of Granville's points were not alluded to, the points themselves were greeted with loud cheering and applause. (Times, 6 June 1853)
Granville had implied that on one level at least the statue would be good for international relations. The Art Journal (1 July 1853, p.178) was probably the first to point out the very opposite. It protested that "a foreign sculptor alone" ought not to be permitted to commemorate the Great Exhibition, and that "the effigy of a valiant crusader" was not a fitting symbol of what it described as "the great Peace congress of 1851". Later in 1853, when promoting his own memorial to the exhibition, the Lord Mayor of London, Thomas Challis echoed the Art Journal's protest, declaring that Marochetti's statue portrayed "muscular power and the almost savage ferocity of war .., while the Great Exhibition afforded an example of the cordial amity of nations" (Times, 8 Nov. 1853). The Mayor's sentiments were mocked in the pages of the Builder (vol.XI, no.540, 2 June 1853, p.374), where yet more resounding phrases were put into the mouth of a fictional grocer, "full of national prejudice".
An alternative site was looked for, and in 1854, a plaster model of the statue was temporarily erected in New Palace Yard, opposite the northern entrance to Westminster Hall, and facing west. It looked towards the statue of George Canning, which was then standing on the edge of the gardens usually referred to as St Margaret's Churchyard. The Art Journal (1 Jan. 1854, p.30, and 1 March 1854, p.89) did not approve of this either. As well as feeling that the attractions of the statue were those of a novelty, and that the subject was odious - "a disobedient son and a bad governor" - it found that, in this location, the sculpture was lost against the architectural details of the Palace. Charles Barry, the architect of the new Houses of Parliament, felt the same, and it was his opinion which seems to have prevailed. The Builder (vol.XII, no.587, 6 May 1854, p.237). referred to the Lionheart's "unsuccessful encounter with Sir Charley of Westminster". The Art Journal (1 June 1854, p.191) boasted that the plaster model had been removed, "on similar grounds to those we suggested in a former number".
Whilst suggestions were being made on all sides about alternative locations, the statue was finally offered to the nation in the Summer of 1856, and in August it was accepted, giving greater urgency to the question (Hansard, vol.150, House of Common, 7 May 1858 , col.275). Marochetti's own preferred site for the statue was now Old Palace Yard, and in the Summer of 1856, Sir Charles Eastlake consulted the members of the Fine Arts Commission for the Palace of Westminster on the subject (TNA, WORK/20/28). Most of those who wrote back found Marochetti's proposal acceptable, though Prince Albert expressed a preference for a position looking up the new Victoria Street, where the statue would be framed by the West entrance of Westminster Abbey (TNA WORK 20/28, letter from Prince Albert, 8 Aug.1856). However, yet again Sir Charles Barry expressed his objection to having the statue near his building. He found Old Palace Yard "too limited in area, and too irregular and unsymmetrical in its form and approaches, to give due effect to it, as a work of art " (TNA WORK 20/28, letter from C.Barry to G.Russell, 11 Aug. 1856). Marochetti was later to reveal to a reporter for the Building News (vol.6, 20 Jan. 1860, p.42) that he positively preferred such a location to a formal, symmetrically laid out square as a site for his statue. The First Commissioner of Works, Lord John Manners, when questioned in the House, replied that "there was a difference of opinion on the point", and gave building work in the area as a reason to delay the decision (Hansard, vol.150, House of Commons, 7 May 1858, col.275).
Successive First Commissioners of Works were asked what was being done for this gift to the nation. Sir Benjamin Hall proposed placing it in Carlton Gardens near the Horseguards, and he was not the only one who thought this site more suited to the bellicose nature of the subject (Hansard, vol.146, House of Commons, 6 July 1857). The top of Marble Arch was another idea. There were rumours that it was going to be sent to the provinces, which the Art Journal (1 July 1858, p.227) thought would be "a most unfitting return for the liberality which gave it to the public". Finally, in 1859, The First Commissioner, Lord John Manners and Marochetti seem to have agreed that Old Palace Yard was indeed the place for it. Some poles were fixed to mark its hypothetical position. Marochetti examined these, and asked that it be "a little more advanced towards the West, in line of the present thoroughfare" (TNA WORK 20/28, letter from Marochetti to Lord John Manners, 28 Feb.1859). The intention to place the statue in Old Palace Yard was announced to the wider public in the The Building News of 25 Nov.1859 (vol.5, p.1058) . In 1859 Marochetti was granted £1,650 of public money, to pay for the carving of the pedestal by Freeman & Co., and its installation (Art Journal, 1 Oct. 1859, p.291, and various letters in TNA WORK 20/28). Work on the foundations was already underway in January 1860 (Building News, vol.6, 20 Jan. 1860, p.42). Sir Charles Barry, who had been seriously ill since 1858, died on the 12 May 1860. Transport of the pedestal from Cornwall was delayed by bad weather, so that it was not until 26 Oct. 1860 that the statue was finally placed upon it. At first there were no decorations whatever on the pedestal, but shortly after the installation, a bronze shield was placed on the narrow front end. (TNA WORK 20/28, various letters)
By the time it was put in place the statue must definitely have looked old-fashioned, which perhaps accounts for the negative tone of the press reaction. The Art Journal (1 Jan. 1860, p.29, and 1 Feb. 1861, p.61) implied that enough had been said. Its verdict had been given long ago. Back in 1854 (1 March, p.89) it had described the Richard as "a colossal sketch", and "unquestionably a vigorous and spirited example of the bravura class of sculpture". In more recent times it had shown greater concern over Marochetti's willingness to accept large amounts of public money without delivering the goods, or delivering them late. By far the most positive response came from the Times (7 Nov. 1860), which claimed, when the figure was erected in Old Palace Yard, that "a great reproach has been removed from London". The town could now boast an equestrian figure, whose "combination of life and picturesqueness" earned it a place alongside the great equestrian monuments of the renaissance. The reporter (probably Marochetti's friend Henry Reeve) admitted that the Baron might have "sacrificed probabilities in the close fit he has given to Richard's mail shirt, which is made to display the swelling biceps and folded mass of pectoral muscle as accurately as a knitted woollen jersey", but felt it was wrong to carp about such a detail "in the presence of such energy and picturesque vitality". The most interesting observation in the Times is that the statue was cast as well as conceived by Marochetti. It had a quality of "vigorous roughness .infinitely preferable to the smooth and highly-wrought surface affected by too many of our modern artistic metallurgists". What frequently appeared to Victorian observers as merely slipshod, is here for once identified as a positive quality. It was almost certainly in pursuit of this quality that Marochetti had in the early 1850s set up his own foundry in Sydney Mews, off the Fulham Road.
The Illustrated London News long matured its vituperative response, finally illustrating the statue in its number for 12 Jan.1861 (p.41), whilst claiming ony to do so "out of a sense of duty". It objected to the statue largely on account of the inappropriateness of the subject, "the madcap fanatic sovereign", placed in the vicinity of "a building appropriated to the constitutional legislature of this now free ..country". A particular irritant to this reviewer were the rumours that Marochetti was negotiating to have a pendent bronze statue of the Black Prince accepted, to stand on the other side of the entrance to the House of Lords. The two figures would represent, the reviewer claimed, "the age of chivalry and bigotry in their wildest extremes". This furtive attempt to build on his success was reported also in the Art Journal (1 Feb.1861, p.61) and in the Athenaeum (12 Jan. 1861, p.55). Only recently have three different versions of Marochetti's Black Prince been located. A large bronze statuette, complete with pedestal and reliefs appeared on the art market in 2004. Another smaller bronze has been identified in the royal collection, and a large silver version, much modified in the 20th century , exists in the collection of the Anglia Television Company. The silver statuette, made by R.& S.Garrard, bears a hall-mark of 1849, indicating that Marochetti must have modelled this equestrian group at the same time that he modelled the Richard. There is nothing to indicate that further progress was made with the project of the paired statues, and at the end of 1861 Marochetti lost his most powerful supporter, the Prince Consort. Without him, there was little chance of the second figure being erected in Old Palace Yard. (see J.Harrison, "The Prince, the Baron and the Knight: Baron Carlo Marochetti and the 'Black Prince', British Art Journal, vol.V, no.2, Autumn 2004, pp.62-68)
Before the statue went up, Marochetti had reminded the Office of Works of his intention to create reliefs for the pedestal, on which "sunk panels" had been prepared for their reception. After some inconclusive correspondence and questions on the subject in the Commons, Marochetti finally presented his proposal and estimate in May 1864. He thought the panels should be "alto relievos in the style of the Ghiberti doors on the Battisterio at Florence", and that there should be four of them: the coronation of Richard in Westminster Abbey, the taking of Ascalon, Richard as prisoner, and the death of Richard. His estimate for all four was £2,500. After a long delay, the answer came back that only two reliefs - the taking of Ascalon, and the death of Richard - would be required at £750 each. In his letter of acceptance, Marochetti described the death scene more fully as "the death of the King and the pardon he granted to the man who wounded him". (TNA WORK 20/28) Possibly envisaging this scene occupying the front or back of the pedestal, he seems already to have modelled a more compact version of it, which still, exists as a plaster model, set into the walls of the Marochetti family château in France. Marochetti reported that the panel with the deathbed scene was in place on the 17 Aug.1866 (TNA WORK 20/28). The Art Journal commented in its 1 Nov issue (p.354) that the coherence of the scene was prejudiced by its being excessively strung out lengthwise. It also observed a similarity between Marochetti's rendering of the scene, and a painting by John Cross of the same subject, which at that time hung within the Houses of Parliament. The relief of the Taking of Ascalon had been reported as ready for approval on the 24 March. It was at the founders in Nov.1866, and Marochetti finally reported, on the 30 March 1867, that it had been fixed in place (TNA WORK 20/28).
From the very first there was concern about the statue's stability. The Clerk of Works at the Houses of Parliament reported in February 1861 that it had been seen to oscillate in strong gusts of wind. Marochetti sent one of his men to observe the statue, but found "we could not ascertain anything more than the elasticity and consequent vibration caused by the force of the wind on a surface of such an extent". He offered to do anything which might be required to strengthen the legs. Further attention seems to have been called for in 1909, when the founder, A.B.Burton of Thames Ditton made a report on the statue's condition. He found that 60 to 80 leaks were letting water into the interior of the statue, and that when this froze it caused cracking in the legs. He also reported that the statue had never been properly attached to the pedestal, but had only been resting on the two ends of the base. A German bombing raid in September 1940 left the sword badly bent but not broken. Vincent Massey, High Commissioner for Canada pleaded for it to be left in this state, as a symbol of democracy's resilience under attack. It remained bent for the rest of the war, but in 1948 it was finally replaced. (TNA WORK 20/28, J.Blackwood, London's Immortals, London 1989, p.56, and Times, 19 Nov. 1940 and 28 Aug. 1943)