Statue of William Shakespeare, Leicester Square

A statue of William Shakespeare, sculpted by Giovanni Fontana after an original by Peter Scheemakers, has formed the centrepiece of Leicester Square Gardens in London since 1874. The marble figure, copied from Scheemakers' 18th-century monument to Shakespeare in Poets' Corner, Westminster Abbey,[1] stands on a pedestal flanked by dolphins at the centre of a fountain. It is the result of improvements to the gardens made by the financier Albert Grant, who bought the Square in 1874 and had it refurbished to a design by James Knowles.[2]

Statue of William Shakespeare
Year1874
LocationLeicester Square, City of Westminster, United Kingdom
Coordinates51°31′N 0°08′W

The scroll held by Shakespeare is inscribed with a quotation from Twelfth Night (Act IV, Scene II), THERE IS NO DARKNESS BUT IGNORANCE, where the original in Poets' Corner has a misquoted passage from The Tempest. The Leicester Square statue also differs from its model in omitting portrait reliefs of Henry V, Richard III and Elizabeth I from the plinth on which Shakespeare rests.[1] The inscription on the pedestal in Leicester Square reads:

THIS ENCLOSURE/ WAS PURCHASED, LAID OUT/ AND DECORATED AS A GARDEN/ BY ALBERT GRANT ESQ[UI]RE M.P./ AND/ CONVEYED BY HIM ON THE 2ND JULY 1874/ TO THE/ METROPOLITAN BOARD OF WORKS/ TO BE PRESERVED FOR EVER/ FOR THE FREE USE AND ENJOYMENT/ OF THE PUBLIC[3]

The statue is listed at Grade II.[4] In 2012 it underwent restoration,[5] and the cleaning was completed, by Tom Brown of London Stone Carving Limited, and new water features added in 2014.[6]

References

Bibliography

  • Ward-Jackson, Philip (2011), Public Sculpture of Historic Westminster: Volume 1, Public Sculpture of Britain, Liverpool: Liverpool University Press
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