Wednesday, 18 December 2013

Wellington Monument, Hyde Park, W1

The colossal figure of Achilles (18ft high) was erected in 1822 to "Arthur Duke of Wellington and his brave companions in arms", funded by a subscriptions from women. It was made by Richard Westmacott (later Sir Richard), who cast the statue in his own foundry at Pimlico from cannon captured in various of Wellington's campaigns.
Although it was based on impeccable classical precedents including the Borghese Gladiator and the Quirinal Horse Tamers, and the Iron Duke's gentlemanly attributes were modestly covered with a fig leaf, it was London's first nude sculpture and caused a bit of a ruckus. Critics also hated the implication that Wellington was some sort of superhero.
George Cruikshank was particularly savage, publishing a satirical print entitled Backside & front view of the ladies fancy-man, Paddy Carey, The line at the top reads: "This Brazen Image was erected by the Ladies, in honor of Paddy Carey O' Killus, Esq. their Man O'Metal!!!"
The statue wears Wellington boots, and the man himself is shown looking on, sticking his bum out like the statue. 

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