HL Deb 08 July 1856 vol 143 cc493-5

on rising to address some queries to Her Majesty's Government on this subject, remarked that the object of the monument was to commemorate the character of the British soldiers, their toils, their endurance, their sufferings, and their heroic deeds. To execute such a work the first sculptor of the day should have been selected. The gentleman actually chosen was Signor Marochetti, an artist of considerable talent, peculiarly famed for massive equestrian statues; in other branches respectable, but not like Mr. Gibson, and some others, holding a first place in art. As an architect, Signor Marochetti was not known to fame; but, indeed, it would be difficult, if not impossible, to find one person equally skilled in architecture and sculpture, as in the days of Michael Angelo, yet it would have required the skill of both those arts to produce a proper monument in the style of that which had been produced. There was nothing very remarkable about the Scutari monument; we had many in this country of the same description. It was very defective in its proportions, inasmuch as the pedestal was as high as the superstructure, whereas the base of Cleopatra's Needle was only one-third the height of the pillar itself. Many obelisks in England were superior to Signor Marochetti's Scutari monument, in point of taste, beauty, and design. One point about it was very remarkable—the lour unfortunate weeping angels could not possibly stand; or if they did, they must he standing either upon their wings, which extend considerably below their feet, or in a flying position. The observation had been made with regard to the statue in the Parthenon—that if it had attempted to stand its head would have gone through the roof. Marochetti was in a similar state with regard to his four weeping angels. The sculptors of this country did not wish to disparage the talent and genius of Signor Marochetti, whom they all highly respected, but they complained that a system of favouritism had been adopted, and that equal justice had not been done to the sculptors and architects of this and other countries. Entertaining the same opinion, in justice to those sculptors and architects he would put the following questions to the Government:—1. By whose authority the Scutari Monument had been undertaken? 2. Who had selected Signor Marochetti to undertake the work? 3. From what fund the payment was to be made? 4. Why the work had not been subjected to public competition, so that the sculptors of England, France, Italy, and Germany, might have sent in models, and an obelisk have been produced that would have immortalised our warriors and the sculptor for ages to come.


in reply to the questions of the noble Earl, said he might observe, in the first place, that the noble Karl had mis-stated the objects of the monument to be erected at Scutari. It was not a monument intended to commemorate the heroic achievements of our soldiers during the late war, but to be a tribute to the memory of the sailors, the soldiers, and the marines, who had sacrificed their lives in the defence of their country. It was a tribute offered by the nation to the memory of those men. With reference to the source from which the idea proceeded, he might say generally that it was undertaken by the Government in accordance with the public wish, that such a monument should be erected ai Scutari, and that the money for the purpose had been voted by Parliament. As to the selection of the artist, if there were any fault in this respect, that responsibility rested with the Government. As to the question, of com- petition in those matters, the noble Earl would permit him to observe that the sculptors and artists of this country were much divided in opinion as to the propriety of submitting the plans for public monuments to general competition, so much so, indeed, that in several cases many of our first artists had declined to offer plans for public buildings. The Government selected Baron Marochetti, as being famous for some colossal works he had already produced, and the work he had designed for the monument of Scutari had so far commended itself to public favour that he had not before heard the design condemned as the noble Earl had condemned it. Indeed, he thought that little fault could be found in it. So far as his own opinion went, ho believed that the monument about to be erected at Scutari would be one of the finest the country had produced, and an honourable and handsome tribute by this nation to the memory of those brave men whom it was intended to commemorate, He thought that Baron Marochetti should not, at all events, be considered a foreign artist, for he had gained for himself a reputation in this country, and was looked upon more as an artist of this country than as a foreign artist. But even if he were viewed in the light of a foreign artist, the noble Earl could have no reason to complain of him, because it was his wish that the work should be competed for by the artists of England, Italy, France, and other countries. He (Lord Panmure) was quite certain that in Baron Marochetti's hands the work would be executed in a manner satisfactory to the country as well as creditable to the artist.

House adjourned till To-morrow.