A Memorial For An Art Lover
Commissioned By: Queen Victoria
Architects & Designers: George Gilbert Scott
Name: The Albert Memorial
Pictured is the Albert Memorial, which was commissioned by Queen Victoria on the early death of Albert in from typhoid fever age 42. The work is not only a celebration of Albert’s life but of his passions & hobbies.
Marble figures representing Europe, Asia, Africa and America stand at each corner of the memorial, and higher up are further figures representing manufacture, commerce, agriculture and engineering. At the t0p are gilded bronze statues of the angels and virtues.
All around the base of the memorial, is a frieze which depicts celebrated painters, poets sculptors, musicians and architects, reflecting Albert's enthusiasm for the arts. There are 187 exquisitely carved figures in the frieze.
Situated in Hyde Park, the work looks onto the Royal Albert Music Hall, also commissioned by the Queen and opened during her lifetime as a memorial to Albert.
In the centre of the monument, the viewer finds Albert holding a catalogue to the 1851 Great Exhibition which was one of the royal’s greatest achievements and something we still benefit from today!!
The Great Exhibition was the brain child of Prince Albert and Henry Cole, and was an event that allowed the world to showcase their artistic, cultural and industrial achievements in London. It showcased Victorian Britain as an industrial powerhouse.
6 million people visited the show – which was 1/3 of the UK’s population at the time.
It was a HUGE success and the profits, which were the equivalent to +£18 million in today’s money, were used to found a new museum called the South Kensington Museum, which we now know as the Victoria and Albert Museum.
The profits also allowed for the founding of The Natural History Museum AND The science museum.
This group of buildings in this area of London are known as Albertopolis!
There was even enough money left over to put into grants and scholarships for institutional research – these are still used today!
Every day is a school day, eh?
So – Albert’s love of art and design is the reason we have three of the best museums in the world.
You can’t really beat that!!
Jo McLaughlin October 2020
The Albert Memorial is on permanent display in Hyde Park London
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