Monday 25 March 2013

India's finest equestrian bronze

This is one of the finest bronze equestrian statues of India and it located in the Garden City of Bangalore.
It was entirely sculpted by one of the famous Italian artistes of his times. The bronze statue belongs to one of the many British military officers who made Bangalore their home and contributed immensely to the development of Bangalore and then Mysore State.
The statue today is a little out of public attention for the simple reason that it stands alone and isolated within the premises of one of the most beautiful buildings in Bangalore and entry to the building is restricted.
This is the statue of Sir Mark Cubbon (August 23, 1775 – April 23, 1861) the then Commissioner of Mysore State and a man who contributed immensely to the development of Bangalore.
The statue of Cubbon astride a horse is in front of the Karnataka High Court in Cubbon Park. Yes, the front of the High Court is the end which faces the Cubbon Park Band stand and not the structure that faces the Vidhana Soudha.
The bronze statue of Cubbon is on a pedestal a little away from the front portico of the High Court. You can see the statue from the small gate that is locked and which is situated on the fence that separates the High Court from the Cubbon Park.
This is the second oldest statue on Cubbon Park and was commissioned by Baron Carlo (Charles) Marochetti (January 4, 1805 – December 29, 1867) an Italian-born French sculptor.
Carlo Marochetti was born in Turin but brought up in Paris as a French citizen. His first teachers in art in Paris were Fran├žois Joseph Bosio and Antoine-Jean Gros.
When in Paris, he came up with the statue of  “A Young Girl playing with a Dog” in 1829 and this won him a medal. Since then, his career took off and he continued living in France till 1848. He then fled to England.
His first equestrian statue was that of Emmanuel Philibert, Duke of Savoy, which today stands in the Piazza San Carlo in Turin. Italy.
He sculpted the equsterain statue of Richard the Lionheart in England.
Another statue of his, Robert Stephenson, which was installed in 1871 still stands in the forecourt of Euston Station. He made a bust of William Makepeace Thackeray for Westminster Abbey. He also created the marble recumbent effigies for the tomb of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert in the Royal Mausoleum at Frogmore in Windsor Great Park and the statue on the Duke of Wellington Commemorative Column outside Stratfield Saye House.
From 1864 he collaborated with Sir Edwin Landseer on the four bronze lions to be placed around the base of Nelson's Column in Trafalgar Square, and cast them at his foundry in London.
A favourite sculptor of Queen Victoria of England, he was commissioned to make the seated figure of Prince Albert for the Albert Memorial in Kensington Gardens. However the first version was rejected by the architect of the monument, Sir George Gilbert Scott, and Marochetti died before a satisfactory second version could be completed.
Marochetti created the Cubbon bronze with great care. It is one of the most beautiful bronze statues in the country and the second oldest in Cubbon Park after that of Queen Victoria. The Cubbon statue was unveiled on March 16, 1866.
He also worked on the Arc de Triomphe in Paris, and the triumphal equestrian statues in Turin. However, much of his work is found in England.
His bronze equestrian of  Cubbon is one of the few equestrian statues in India. Some other equestrian statues are that of Chatrapathi Shivaji in Colaba in Mumbai, the statue of Rani Laxmi Bai, the equestrian statue of  Edward VII by Sir Bertram Mackennal close to Victoria Memorial and another statue of Bagha Jatin by the side of the Victoria Memorial in Kolkata.
Interestingly, the statue of Cubbon was moved a few feet after work commenced on the construction of  the new annexe of the High Court building

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