William Ewart Gladstone (1809-98)
Sir W. Hamo Thornycroft, R. A. (1850-1925)
1899-1902; unveiled 1902
Bronze, on a Kemnay granite pedestal with two bronze reliefs at the sides, and a coat of arms and swag at the front
George Square, Glasgow
Glaswegians were keen to honour the four-times Prime Minister, who had been given freedom of the city in 1865, and had become Lord Rector of Glasgow University in 1879. Here, he is shown wearing the robes of that office (in contrast to the robes of Chancellor of the Exchequer, which he wears in Thornycroft's London statue of him), with his arms folded and a book in one hand, and with other books and manuscripts at his feet. His academic role is clearly stressed, to bring out the local connection — a point to be taken into account when discussing public sculpture. However, the reliefs broaden this view of him: one shows him making a speech in the House of Commons, and the other shows him outdoors, felling trees (his unusual pastime). This of course suggests one of the useful roles of such reliefs. Thornycroft, a great admirer of Gladstone, accepted the commission with "eager pleasure" (qtd. in McKenzie 145). Cf. Statues of Gladstone by Sir Thomas Brock, one in Westminster Abbey, and one in Liverpool.
Photograph and text by Jacqueline Banerjee, 2009.
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