An equestrian statuette of the Duke of Wellington by Morel after Marochetti. This bronze shows Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington, astride his famous horse, Copenhagen. He is in uniform and regalia including the Order of the Golden Fleece, the star of the Order of the Garter and other decorations, but bare headed with his bicorne held by his side. The whole study is set on a stepped rectangular double plinth made from simulated porphyry marble and applied with four bronze bas-reliefs showing a son taking his leave of his parents, a man ploughing with two horses and two battle scenes, one including a caparisoned elephant. Signed ‘CM’ and ‘Fondu par Morel et Cie, Londres’. English, circa 1844.
Height of bronze: 17¼ in (44 cm) Width: 13¼ in (33.5cm) Depth: 5 in (13cm)
Height overall: 31 ½ in (79 cm) Width: 22 ¼ in (62.5cm) Depth: 14 ½ in (37cm)
Provenance: Eslington Park Sale, seat of Baron Ravensworth,
Anderson & Garland, 6 November 1951 lot 213
Major Hon Denis Gomer Berry and Lady Pamela Wellesley Berry
Richard Gomer Berry, 3rd Viscount Kemsley
The full size statue by Italian artist Carlo (Baron) Marochetti (1805-1867), was unveiled in Royal Exchange Square, Glasgow, in 1844. Despite being funded by public subscription, the decision to award him this commission of Wellington proved controversial as he was also competing (unsuccessfully as it transpired) to execute Napoleon’s tomb at Les Invalides. In 1848, he moved to London, following King Louis Philippe into exile, where he produced the funerary effigies for the tomb of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert at Frogmore, Windsor and Richard Coeur de Lion for the entrance of the Great Exhibition of 1851. The footnotes for a similar statuette, sold at Sotheby’s in 2022, declare that ‘the present bronze is one of only a handful, made either as a limited run for a select clientele, or, perhaps, as part of an edition which was never fully exploited’. The present version appears to be the only one from this select group (all made by Morel et Cie) which includes the base complete with its bronze panels.
Morel et Cie, Londres. Jean-Valentin Morel (1794-1860) was an extremely important French jeweller and goldsmith who, like Marochetti, fled France in the wake of the 1848 revolution, setting up workshops in Mayfair with over 50 staff. He had trained under Adrien Maximilian who made gold boxes for both King Louis XVI and Napoleon.
Since the 1980s adorning the statue with traffic cones has become a ‘tradition’, which apparently inspired Banksy, the renowned street artist, to choose Glasgow as the venue for his 2023 Exhibition ‘Cut and Run’. He said the traffic cone on the head of the Duke of Wellington statue outside the gallery was what drew him to exhibit there, adding, ‘It’s my favourite work of art in the UK’.