I’ve always been a great admirer of the equestrian statue of Richard the First, Coeur de Lion — Lionheart — in Old Palace Yard in front of the Palace of Westminster. It lifts the spirit. I was there yesterday, visiting my old friend Chris Heaton-Harris, MP for Daventry. The sun was shining from a clear blue sky, the Palace looked wonderful — like a real parliament — and I couldn’t resist the temptation to take a picture.
The statue was first commissioned in clay for the 1851 Great Exhibition. It was designed by the Italian sculptor Baron (Pietro) Carlo Giovanni Battista Marochetti (1805-1867). I love public art and sculpture, but at the risk of offending my good colleague Martin Callanan MEP (who represents the North East) I have to admit that I prefer Victorian heroics to the Angel of the North.
The statue of Richard was greatly admired in 1851, by John Ruskin amongst others, and a permanent bronze version was subsequently made, funded for £5000 by public subscription. It has recently been refurbished and looks a million dollars (not a bad return on £5000).
It always puts me in mind of those lines of James Elroy Flecker:
Surely for us, as for those nobly dead,
The Kings of England, lifting up their swords,
Shall gather at the Gates of Paradise.
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Thankyou, Roger! I concur that some modern art such as “Angel of the North” is weak, in comparison with works such as those mentioned in your post. Whatever some people may say, King Richard the First has special significance in English history. As you suggest, works such as the one which you have photographed, signify “heroics”. Also, perhaps, a sense of national honour!