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Draft memorandum on the moving of Wellington's monument in St Paul's Cathedral

RA Collection: Archive

Reference code

RAA/GA/17/2

Title

Draft memorandum on the moving of Wellington's monument in St Paul's Cathedral

Date

c. 1880

Level

Item

Extent & medium

1 piece

Previous reference codes

1303

Historical Background

After several failures, Stevens's design for the Wellington Monument was chosen after two more favoured designs - by William Calder Marshall and William Frederick Woodington - were found to be unsuitable for the chosen setting in St Paul's. Starting in 1857/8, the commission was to last the rest of Stevens' life, and was only completed by John Theed after his death. The problems revolved round money, and Stevens' pursuit of the perfection he knew from Italian art. Starting in 1858, it took him until 1867 to produce a full-size model of the monument, and the £14,000 cash ran out soon after, with Stevens of the opinion that at least as much again was needed to complete the work. After much fuss, with the contract at one point being terminated, an extra £8,500 was made available, on the strict understanding that Stevens was the artist and designer, but the money was to be in the charge of an industrialist friend, Mr Leonard Collmann, "as Mr Stevens had a want of all knowledge of the value of money or of its management". The final monument, a cut-down version of Stevens's original proposal, has the recumbent figure of Wellington in bronze under a shrine-like canopy held up by a dozen pillars. The two allegorical groups are Valour triumphant over Cowardice, and Truth plucking out the tongue of Falsehood.

Content Description

Draft memorandum in the hand of Lord Leighton from members of the Royal Academy [no signatures recorded] to W. E. Gladstone petitioning for the removal of Alfred Stevens's monument to the Duke of Wellington in St Paul's Cathedral from the consistory court on the south aisle to the position for which it was intended, under one of the arches in the nave, and, if possible, for the completion of the monument in accordance with Stevens's design.