Sunday, 4 September 2016

Equestrian Statue of James II.
1686 - 88.
by William (Willem) Larson.
Set up in front of the Town's Chambers on the Sandhill, Newcastle upon Tyne - Bronze - en levade (standing on back legs) - thrown into the river Tyne in1688 by the people of Newcastle after the Glorious Revolution - William Larson -
 Early in 1686, following the example of a number of bodies in the country, the Newcastle Common Council decided to show their loyalty to James II by erecting 'His Ma:ties Statue'. On 12th April 1686 a contract was duly drawn up stipulating that William Larson of London was to be the sculptor and that the overall cost was not to exceed £800 nor to take more than five months. 'William Larson shall and will at his owne costs and charges according to such direccion and advice as shall be given him by Sir Christopher Wren (his Majestyes Surveyour generall) make and cast the ffigure of his majesty King James the Second in good Cannon Brass in moderne habitt on a Capering Horse as large as that of his late Majesty King Charles the First at Charing Cross on a Pedestall of Black and White Marble of equall height and Magnitude to the said ffigure...' .
 However, despite these stipulations, the statue, it seems, took longer than the five months allowed, the last payment being made to Larson on 4th September 1688. Larson, it is now thought, was probably helped with the modelling of the horse by John Wyck who was renowned at the time for his painting of equestrian subjects. The completed statue enjoyed an exceedingly short life. There had always been those who saw its erection as papist propaganda and, following the Glorious Revolution, it was pulled down by an unruly mob on the 11th May 1689.
There is a bronze statuette height 64 cms in the National Gallery of Ireland.
Purchased in 1902

Engraving above by Joseph Barber, Humbles Buildings, Newcastle - 1742

Engraving of the Equestrian Statue of James II by William Larson
59 x 49.4 image size.
From  - A historical and descriptive account of All Saints church in Newcastle. Written 1826
In 1696 the five old bells in the steeple were taken down and six new bells cast and hung in the new frames by Christopher Hodson of London for which he received over One Hundred and Eighty Two pounds.
The old bells weighed 58 cwt 1 qr 21 lbs and the new ones 58 cwt 3 qrs 18.5 lbs.
On the petition of the Churchwardens, the Corporation granted them “The metal that was left of the Horse part” of the Statue of King James the Second, which formerly stood on the Sandhill, but “in the conclusion of the year 1688 was by Some officers and soldiers pulled down and defaced.  (Thrown into the river)  William Creagh organised this statue of King James II.
The Larson Statue of James II was Commissioned in April 1686 and set up August September 1688 (Esdaile)
The last  statue of James II to  be erected was this  fine  equestrian one ' in moderne Habitt' which was set up in August or September 1688. The sculptor, Larson, was the artist whom Pepys visited in 1668/9 to have his face cast.  Unhappily, it was pulled down in May 1689, thus encountering a worse fate than the Kings Lynn statue of James II,  which can have been only partially damaged. 
A bronze Model is in the National Gallery of Ireland. Height 64 cms.
Bibliography - see - article The University College Statue of James II by KA Esdaile and MR Toynbee
article - Pepys Plaisterer, KA Edaile Times Literary Supplement 2 October 1943, page 480.
article - A Statuette of James II MR Toynbee, Country Life, 29 September 1950. p. 1007.
article -The Larson Family of Statuary Founders: Seventeenth-Century Reproductive Sculpture for Gardens and Painters' Studios - Frits Scholten in Simiolus: Netherlands Quarterly for the History of Art .Vol. 31, No. 1/2 (2004 - 2005), pp. 54-89.
Charles II -

A standing figure of Charles II in Roman tunic, without mantle or toga, holding a baton signifying authority in his right hand and resting his left hand on his hip.
      The statue was installed by the Newcastle Common Council in a niche on the south front of the Magazine Gate of the medieval Tyne Bridge 'soon after the restoration' of 1660.(1) There it was one of the most prominent pieces of public sculpture in the region and for a time had a decidedly political character: witness the motto it bore, 'Adventus Regis solamen gregis' ('the coming of the king is the comfort of the people'). The statue of the first Stuart king, James I, had previously occupied this key site but had been removed by Parliament in 1651 to make way for the arms of the Commonwealth (motto, 'True Liberty takes away no man's right, or hinders no man's right').
Unlike William Larson's equestrian statue of James II (TWNEA09 q.v.) the statue of Charles II survived the aftermath of the Glorious Revolution. It was moved to its present position inside the Guildhall when eventually the Magazine Gate was demolished in 1770 so that the north entrance to the bridge could be widened. However, according to one writer it was already in a poor state by the 1730s. '[The statue] was wont to look exceedingly beautiful, and in coming along the Bridge from the South, was a very worthy and conspicuous Ornament to the Town; but of late it is pretty much obscur'd with Dust, if not defac'd with the Weather, through the Want of being put into a little Order and Regularity.'(2) It has been suggested on stylistic grounds that the statue may be by William Larson.(3)
      Charles II (1630 -85) was 'restored' to the throne in 1660 after having spent much of his youth in exile on the Continent. As king he favoured absolutism, toleration for Catholics and war with Holland, but unlike other members of the Stuart family he was astute enough to back down when faced with determined opposition. Accordingly, in 1673 he agreed to the Test Act excluding Catholics from office and in 1674 made peace with Holland. Eventually thanks to secret subsidies from Louis XIV in France he was able to fulfil his political ambitions by dispensing with Parliament and at his death he left the throne to his openly Catholic brother, James, Duke of York.
Inscriptions - incised on base in Roman letters painted black: CAROLUS.II.REX
Engraving of James II
by Grinling Gibbons
19.1 x 16.7 cms image size
Pub 1791
'Pubd. May 13 1701 by N Smith No18 Gt Mays Buildings'. 4th state - Plate from John Thomas Smith's 'Antiquities of London' (1791).


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