Alexander the Great, taming Bucephalus by John Steell (1804-91). Bronze group in the courtyard of City Chambers, Parliament Square, Edinburgh, cast in 1883. [Click on images to enlarge them.]

According to the Canmore site, which includes information from the Public Monuments and Sculpture Association, "This was Steell's first major work, begun in 1829 soon after his return from Rome. It was also his last major work, as it was not cast in bronze till 1883." That was when a distinguished committee had managed to raise the requisite funds. The work was first sited in St Andrew Square, and unveiled there in the following year, but moved in 1916 to make way for the Gladstone Memorial. The unusual equestrian group shows a youthful Alexander exercising his will over the powerful creature, which would become his trusty mount in future battles. The story is told in Plutarch's Lives: having noticed that the horse was spooked by its shadow moving in the sunshine, the young Alexander turned it to face the sun, spoke soothingly to it, stroked it, and was able to mount and control it (436).

Photographs and caption by George P. Landow, and added comment by Jacqueline Banerjee. You may use these images 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 in a web document or cite the Victorian Web in a print one.


"Edinburgh, High Street, City Chambers, Courtyard, Statue." Canmore (National Record of the Historical Environment). Web. 30 May 2021

Plutarch's Lives. Trans. John and William Langhorne. Cincinnati: Applegate & Co., 1854. Google Books. Free Ebook.

Created 17 February 2009

Last modified 30 May 2021