George IV, Brighton, by Francis Chantrey

George IV (1762-1830), by Sir Francis Chantrey (1781-1841). [Click on these pictures to enlarge them.] Inscribed 1828; unveiled 1830. Bronze on a granite pedestal, above a stone base. Outside the north gate of the Royal Pavilion, Brighton; moved here in 1922. This is a replica of the marble statue of the king at the head of the grand staircase in Windsor Castle. Chantrey's dislike of ornamentation, and preference for marble, were both recorded in an early biography:

Chantrey cast aside every extrinsic recommendation, and depended entirely on form and effect. He took the greatest care that his shadows should tell boldly, and in masses. He was cautious in introducing them, and always reduced them as much as might be compatible with the complete development of the figure. He never introduced a fold that could be dispensed with, rarely deviated from long lines, and avoided abrupt foldings. His dislike to ornament in sculpture was extreme; in marble he thought it intolerable, and reluctantly admitted it in bronze, for it was long before he could consent to decorate the royal robe of George the Fourth, on the bronze statue at Brighton.... To sculpture in bronze he always objected, as limiting the power of the artist to outline, for the light must be very favourable to develop so dark an object, and in such a climate as that of Great Britain, nothing should be expected in bronze beyond a clear and expressive contour. (Jones 84-86)

However, this monument by the Royal Pavilion in Brighton is highly appropriate because it was George IV, when Prince Regent, who commissioned the architect John Nash to build the exotic Brighton Pavilion which stands just behind it. Compared to Chantrey's statue of George IV in Edinburgh, this looks somewhat less formal (no sceptre) and more welcoming (because of the extended hand). The death of George IV's daughter Charlotte, in childbirth, eventually led (after the seven-year reign of George's brother William IV) to Queen Victoria's accession. Chantrey would execute her likeness too, becoming the only English sculptor to have modelled four reigning monarchs from the life (see Holland 289).

Photograph, text, and formatting by Jacqueline Banerjee [You may use this image without prior permission for any scholarly or educational purpose as long as you (1) credit the photographer and (2) link your document to this URL or cite the Victorian Web in a print one.]

References

Holland, John. Memorials of Sir Francis Chantrey, R.A., Sculptor, in Hallamshire and Elsewhere. London: Longman, 1851. Google Books (full view). Web 11 August 2011.

Jones, George, R.A. Sir Francis Chantrey, R.A. Recollections of His Life, Practice, and Opinions . London: E. Moxon, 1849. Internet Archive. Web 11 August 2011.

Public Sculpture of Sussex. Web. 11 August 2011.


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Last modified 11 August 2011