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Memorial

Robert Napier statue - SW7 Robert Napier statue - SW7

Statue: Robert Napier statue - SW7

Erection date: 1891

Inscription

{On the front of the plinth:}
Robert Napier, Lord Napier of Magdala, GCB, GCSI, Field Marshal and Constable of the Tower of London. Born 6 Dec 1810. died 14 Jan 1890.

{On the back of the plinth:}
Erected by his countrymen, MDCCCXCI {1891}
He rests in St Paul's Cathedral

Site: Robert Napier statue - SW7 (1 memorial)

SW7, Queen's Gate

We have a query concerning the designe of this statue . . .  Firstly, note that in 1883 Boehm had already produced a similar Napier statue for Calcutta, see the postcard photo, c. 1905 (ref. The Presidential Armies of India). Boehm died in 1890 while working on this London statue so it was completed by Gilbert, but since it is (near)-identical to the Calcutta one, this work must have been minimal. Originally erected in 1891 in Waterloo Place (image at Pastscape) the statue was evicted in 1921 to make room for Mackennal’s equestrian Edward VII.  

In a Kensington and Chelsea pdf download we’ve read that the slope of the ground on which Napier’s horse stands was prompted by the lie of the land in Waterloo Place.  This makes no sense, for at least 3 reasons.  Firstly, the slope in Waterloo Place is really quite gentle – the Pastscape image shows practically no slope.  Secondly, what was the sculpted hillock intended to achieve? What problem did the ground slope create that the sculpted slope would overcome?  

Then consider that Mackennal was perfectly happy with his horse, at the same site, presented on level ground, and it looks fine.  And the clincher is that Calcutta statue (remember that?) – it was created before the London one and it has the slope, even though it was erected on totally level ground.  So we think the slope was a purely aesthetic feature, unrelated to the site, intended to make the horse and rider more imposing.  Whatever … Napier and his mount trotted over to SW7 and found a home here in level Queen’s Gate. 

Another little puzzle: the pdf says the Calcutta statue “originally stood on Napier Road”.   That’s a road beside the Hoogly River and we’ve found it in Google Maps but there is no Streetview.  Apart from the postcard photo we can find no other image, and the “originally” suggests the statue was moved. But where to? At one stage we thought it might be the one erected in London, but the "1905" on the Calcutta photo scuppers that idea.

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This section lists the subjects commemorated on the memorial on this page:
Robert Napier statue - SW7

Information Subjects commemorated

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Robert Napier

Indian army officer.  Born Ceylon, the son of an army officer.  Also served i...

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This section lists the subjects who helped to create/erect the memorial on this page:
Robert Napier statue - SW7

Information Created by

47787

Sir Joseph Edgar Boehm

Born Vienna, educated England, granted English citizenship 1865. Sculptor in ...

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46239

Sir Alfred Gilbert

Sculptor and goldsmith.  Born 13 Berners Street.  Eloped with his first cousi...

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48236

Morris Singer Foundry

Founded by John Webb Singer as the Frome Art Metal Works. Cast many of the be...

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