Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Horse and Rider, William III of England

On entering St James Square Garden I took a photo of the Tourist information plaque to remind me who had been the sculptor of William III
shown here. I was interested in the thickness of limbs which Swallows

and I discussed some months ago. Unfortunately I seem to have lost that photo so I can only guess that this work was a second copy of John Michael Rysbrack Bristol work, though the name Jacob is in the back of my memory. This version was not placed here until 1807.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks very much, Robert. I had to look up all kinds of things I didn't know and it was fun. You got me daydreaming about London and another life I should have lived.
Gulielmus? French-Latin, I guess. Would your average Englishman know that Gulielmus means William? The full-stops after Gulielmus . and III . were odd.

The horse is nice and light--a little in your own style. It prances in such a happy way. The rider is large like Marcus Aurelius on his horse in Rome, which gives the horse the look of a lively Arab-Spanish breed (well, maybe not the head). As usual in equestrian statues the rider is much less interesting than the horse, isn't he? But old Rysbrack had the idea to bring the horse and rider together with that simple gesture: the king's order to turn left. And the horse's turned head shows he is just about to obey.

The sculptor knew the best side, as always, and put the King's name there; but the other side is good too.
What did you decide about the thickness of these horse legs? Are they thicker than nature would have made them?

I bet this is the sculptor's best work. His Shakepeare at Wikipedia is dead in the eyes--just where you look to see some life.

4:11 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Make that "turn right"!
What do you think of that long tail? Couldn't Rysbrack have wiggled it a bit? Or wagged it in tune with the general movement? Maybe he thought its straightness and downward pull helped raise the front of the horse and even gave it more movement by contrast.

5:43 pm  
Blogger Robert said...

The tail on the one in Bristol which must have been done in Rysbrack's life time, seems thinner judging by the picture on Wikipedia. This one was not placed in St James Square until almost 40 years after his death. I would love to know whether it was from the same plaster mould or whether it was copied which might explain the fuller tail. I do not remember reading that sort of detail on the plaque but I think there was more to it than I have stated here. I will go back next time I am in London and see!

The horse's head has typical "style" of the time, which is reminiscent of Charles I's sculpture in Trafalgar Square see;

Conrad might know why William was spelt that way, I’ll ask him, as it is not in our French – Latin dictionaries!

On the thickness of horses’ legs; of course it depends on the breed of horse as you intimate, but they are quite thin here, but if it is supposed to be of Arab stock they would probably be thinner in real life when viewed from the front especially at the cannon, (between fetlock and knee).

There is a modern Monument to “Animals contribution in War” along Park Lane by Hyde Park. Unfortunately it is difficult to access so my pitiful photos of David Blackhouse’s horses are not very good. I will post them up anyway. (It was raining and I was very grumpy having walked a great deal that day!). You can see pictures of it on wikipedia here but they do not look at the work with the “right eye”. (I am not referring to Nelson's syndrome!)

10:27 am  
Blogger John Shelley said...

As an historical aside, I believe this statue includes a molehill beneath the horse's hoof, representing the one that tripped his horse and led to William's death in 1702. It's a little difficult to spot in the photos. William's enemies honoured the mole as "the Gentleman in Black Velvet".

12:25 pm  
Blogger Robert said...

John, welcome. Thank you for that, I also know the story of the Loyal Scots who drank to the "King" over the water. Next time I go I will look for the mole hill and add a photo for you.

Great work you do, I must visit you again.

12:45 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Now that's a touch, John! I wonder what your source is. Have you seen the treacherous molehill there (unlike Bill's horse)? I like the "Gentleman in Black Velvet".

11:49 am  

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