For biographical details on Stapleton Cotton, 1st Viscount Combermere, see Wikipedia link.
Viscount Combermere died on 21 Feb. 1865. The plan to commemorate him was set in motion towards the end of 1863, therefore, some time before his death, and resulted in a public meeing being held at Nantwich early in 1864. Although the personalities involved at this point were relatively obscure, the movement soon won the support of some of the leading figures in the county, including Earl Grosvenor, John Tollemache M.P., the Bishop of Chester, Lieut-Gen. Sir Edward Cust, and Major Starkey. Combermere's daughter Mary also specifies in her memoir of her father, that "the Masons of Cheshire, headed by Lord de Tabley, warmly cooperated in thus evincing respect for their Provincial Grand Master, and contributed liberally". Combermere had indeed been Provincial Grand Master for more than fifty years, and his fellow masons were to be much in evidence when his staue was finally unveiled. A subscription fund quickly raised the very considerable sum of £7,000. Marochetti, who it had been decided should execute the statue was summoned by the committee. He arrived at Combermere Abbey on 30th April 1864, and from there went on to Chester with Lord Combermere, his family, and General Sir Sidney Cotton, to Chester, where the Mayor of the city conducted them to the site outside the castle, where it was proposed to erect the statue. The Chester Chronicle (28 Oct. 1865), in its account of the commission, recorded that a bust of Combermere, which Marochetti then proceeded to make "had scarcely left the hands of the artist befor the gallant veteran breathed his last". However, Combermere's daughter tells how Combermere actually sat to Marochetti, on his charger, in the sculptor's London studio. According to her account, her father came up to London in June 1864, where "his mornings were for some time fully occupied by attendance at Baron Marochetti's studio". Her account continues: "to that peculiarly quaint spot his horse was daily led, and in the largest room there, dressed in uniform, the Field Marshal would sit immovable upon his charger for an hour, with such patience and steadiness that the Baron soon succeeded in securing an inimitable likeness, recalling the firm seat and upright carriage which had distinguished the young Hussar in the early part of his career". Furthermore, his old attendant was standing by to ensure that his master's accoutrements were all in place.
Only twenty months elapsed between the first idea of the statue and its completion. It was unveiled by General Sir Edward Cust on 26 October 1865. The Chester Chronicle was especially impressed by the quality of Marochetti's portrait of Combermere, observing that "the chief element of success is that great sculptor's distinguished achievement in giving us as far as form and feature are concerned a counterpart in bronze to the Combermere we have lost.....Marochetti is famous for his horses but what will generally awaken a much keener interest.....is the bearing and lineaments of the man". The Liverpool Mercury (26 Oct. 1865) was also impressed by what it described as "an admirable likeness of the deceased Viscount".
The Art Journal was more critical of the version of the bust of Combermere which Marochetti showed at the Royal Academy in 1866, even though it began on a positive note: "But the artist who knocks off a likeness with still greater breadth and boldness - a cleverness which is scarcely to be distinguished from clumsiness - is Baron Marochetti . Surely the head of 'Viscount Combermere' suffers under a stroke of art which inflicts injury on nature. Certain of our sculptors affect a naturalism still more rude......".
In their account of the Combermere commission (Public Sculpture of Cheshire and Merseyside, Liverpool University Press, 2012, pp.63-66)Edward Morris and Emma Roberts suggests that Lord Grosvenor, later the first Duke of Westminster and his wife Constance, both of whom were present at the unveiling of the Combermere statue in Chester in 1865, may have had some influence in the matter of the choice of artist. Constance was the daughter of the 2nd Duke of Sutherland, a known admirer of Marochetti's work.