Achilles in Hyde Park

Here is a public work of art I must have passed a hundred times over the years without really ever taking much notice of it.  So, when last in London, I decided to spend some time taking a proper look.  It was erected in honour of the Duke of Wellington, whose house in nearby at No 1, London.

It dates back to 1822 when it first appeared.  Apparently, Hyde Park was walled back then and part of a wall had to be demolished to get the statue in.  Reputedly, it was the first naked statue in London that was not a classical one acquired from elsewhere!  There is a fig leaf in place so nobody needed to be too upset! Achilles stands 18 ft tool on a plinth looking strong and militaristic.  He has his shield raised in his left hand and a sword in his right.  The armour is by his side and his cloak is over his shoulder.

It was sculpted by Richard Westmacott and was made out of captured enemy cannon melted down as the spoils of victory.  The money for the work of art was raised entirely by the women of Britain. Originally, the statue was naked but the fig leaf was necessary to keep the Georgians happy!



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