George III, Monument Place, Liverpool, by Sir Richard Westmacott RA - Sculpture of the month for June

George III, by Sir Richard Westmacott RA.

Along London Road, leading out from the centre of Liverpool, is Monument Place, and here is Liverpool’s statue of King George III, a grand equestrian group by one of the most prominent sculptors of the early 19th Century, Sir Richard Westmacott RA. The statue is in a pose closely modelled on that of the antique statue of Marcus Aurelius in Rome, including the pose of the arms and the downward-pointing left foot, as well as the stance of the horse. The details are different. For example the King wears Classical garb, a rather short tunic down to mid thigh, showing powerful legs and sandalled feet. The garment is not very noble, unlike that of Marcus Aurelius, and it is a mark of Westmacott’s skill that there is still a power and dignity to the portrait. He is seated on a fur blanket rather than a saddle, in ancient style.

George III equestrian statue, different views.

The statue is on a tall rectangular plinth, around twice the height of a man, made in granite blocks. It has been criticised for being a little small in cross section for the statue, as the front leg of the horse protrudes in front, but so it does with the Marcus Aurelius on a differently shaped plinth.

Sir Richard Westmacott RA needs to be called such, as both his father and son of the same name were also sculptors. But our man was by far the most eminent, with a plethora of noble statues across the country, as well as the British Museum pediment, which occupied him for many years in later life. In Liverpool is another important memorial by him, which is the Nelson monument in Exchange Flags, behind the old Town Hall – see this page.

Other George III sculpture: Trinity House, Brighton, and Bradford.

Other statues of George III that come to my mind include two further equestrian ones: one, also by Sir Richard Westmacott RA in the Great Park in Windsor, dating from several years later, and the London one in Cockspur Street, showing George III in contemporary clothing rather than Roman attire, a splendid statue by Matthew Wyatt, but much derided for the king’s pigtail. See this page. Also in London is a standing figure of George III in the courtyard of Somerset House, by Bacon the Elder, a portrait head in high relief, again by Bacon the Elder, on the front of Trinity House, and we might note an obelisk to him in St George Circus, Lambeth, with no portrait. And once there was another equestrian George III, which was made of lead and gradually decayed - see this page. Outside of London, the best standing figure of George III is surely that by Chantrey in Brighton, a bronze, and also notable is the one on Bradford City Hall, in stone, and another standing figure of him in Weymouth.

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