Interior of the Albert Memorial Chapel, Windsor, showing the Triqueti Marbles. Baron Henri de Triqueti (1803-74), in collaboration with the architect Sir George Gilbert Scott and with assistance from Susan Durant. 1864-74. Windsor Castle, Berks. Library of Congress reproduction no. LC-DIG-ggbain-08080 (digital ID ggbain 08080). Additional photographs of the maquette at the Musée Girodet, Montargis, France, and text by the author 2009/10 taken by kind permission of the museum.
The decoration of the interior of this chapel was a major, highly prestigious commission and it proved to be a life-consuming task for the sculptor. As Benedict Read writes, "the ultimate in funerary monuments perhaps were those of Prince Albert and Queen Victoria," and in this case "a whole chapel attached to St George's Chapel, Windsor, was restored (by Sir Gilbert Scott, the architect) and richly adorned, the main feature being a series of incised and coloured marble pictures of Biblical scenes" (194). In fact, there are ten panels in all, covering 60 metres in length and reaching 5 metres high (Galliot-Rateau 26). The scheme is as follows: using appropriate episodes from the Old Testament, the south wall of the nave exhibits the prince's virtues — for example, the scene of Abraham and Isaac suggests the prince's obedience to the will of God; while the panels along the north wall illustrate his virtues — for example, the panel depicting Solomon building the temple recalls the prince's work for the Great Exhibition, and the fact that he was planning the South Kensington Exhibition when he died. Each individual panel has a border of flowers and leaves, punctuated with bas-reliefs appropriate to its theme, and is surmounted” by a bust-medallion of one of the royal children sculpted” by Susan Durant. On either side of the entrance in the west wall are two angels — the angels of death and the resurrection. The theme of the choir with its gilded wooden neo-Gothic reredos is that of the resurrection.
Triqueti was also responsible for the cenotaph to Prince Albert at the centre of the chapel, and the effigy itself, although in this instance he had to defer to Queen Victoria and give his recumbent statue not so much a saintly as a medieval appearance — even to the hound at his feet, looking towards his dead master with wistful devotion (see Galliot-Rateau 26). "Around the tomb in niches are mourning angels [Triqueti's speciality], and allegorical figures" (Read 194). Triqueti himself had known great sorrow: his only sister Henrietta had died young in 1843, and in 1861 his only son Edward (whose name is spelt in the English way on his headstone), who was just 21, had suffered the same kind of fatal accident as the one that killed his friend and patron the Duke of Orleans. Towards the end of his life, Triqueti lost both his wife Blanche and then his young mistress Susan Durant. All his grief seems to have been poured into this last commission. Although he lived to complete the work, he died before he could prepare the detailed explanation of it which he had planned to publish. On his death-bed he asked repeatedly if the Queen liked his sculptures here ("La reine a-t-elle aimeacute; les statues?" [qted. in Galliot-Rateau 27]).
The maquette of the Marbles in the Triqueti room at the Musée Girodet, Montargis is not a preparatory model put together” by the sculptor himself but a one-fifth scale model prepared for the retrospective exhibition of 2007/8. However, as Didier Ryker says, it is a "perfect evocation of the original," and gives us an excellent opportunity to study the tarsia at leisure, and in detail.
Maquette of the Triqueti Marbles at the Musée Girodet, Montargis, France
Left: West wall, entrance, with the angels of death and the resurrection. Right: Choir with reredos, with the theme of the resurrection. To the left can be seen The Lamentation over the Dead Christ. [Click on thumbnails for larger images.]
Closer view of tarsia panels in the maquette. The bas-relief of the future Edward VII can be seen above the lefthand corner of the door.
- Maquette for the Mother of Moses
- Maquette for the Sculptor of the Shield
- Maquette for the The Young Writer
- Explanation of the tarsia process in The Marmor Homericum
Galliot-Rateau, Véronique. Henry de Triqueti, 1803-1874, Sculpteur: Collection du Musée des Beaux-Arts d'Orléans. Orléans: Musée des Beaux-Arts d'Orléans, 2009.
Read, Bendedict. Victorian Sculpture. New Haven & London: Yale, 1982.
Rykner, Didier. "Henry de Triqueti (1803-1874)." This is a review of the exhibition in The Art Tribune. Viewed 9 May 2010.
Last modified 9 May 2010