Historical Portraits Picture Archive

Designs for the America Statue on the Albert Memorial 1864

John Bell 

Designs for the America Statue on the Albert Memorial, John Bell
Pen and ink and wash, paper
19th Century
24 1/4 x 29 1/2 inches 61 x 74 cm
Descent within the artist''s family.
John Bell was one of the most prominent sculptors of his day, and in 1864 was commissioned by Queen Victoria to execute the America statue group for the Albert Memorial in Kensington Gardens, London. These rare designs are clearly preparatory and alternative studies for this glamorous project, and whilst the number and grouping of figures in the drawings differ from the fnished sculpture, Bell remained faithful to certain original ideas such as the armed figure riding a buffalo and the native Indian.

Plans for the Albert Memorial began a month after the Prince''s death on 14th December 1861. In April 1863, Queen Victoria accepted Scott's designs and in May 1864 work began. The extent of sculpture on the memorial made it an important monument for British sculptors to display their talent. Eleven sculptors were involved in the figure groups, and the best of the group, including Bell, were chosen to execute the corners with representations of the four continents. The memorial was finished in 1876 with the installation of the seated statue of Prince Albert, and remains to this day the largest memorial in Europe to be erected to a royal person, let alone to a consort.

John Bell was also a painter, engraver and draughtsman. He exhibited at the Royal Academy and the British Institution, and collaborated on a number of sculpture projects such as the Waterloo monument and the statue of Wellington at the Guildhall.
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