Eagle Slayer statue

The History of Sydenham from Cippenham to present day. Links to photos especially welcome!

Moderator: frenzarin

Post Reply
jawmac
Posts: 5
Joined: 30 Oct 2010 12:03
Location: London

Eagle Slayer statue

Post by jawmac » 31 Oct 2010 10:02

There are currently two pictures on the site showing the Eagle Slayer beside Una and the Lion but in one photo he is white and the other bronze or 'bronzed'. Are these plaster casts and which came first?

tulse hill terry
Posts: 686
Joined: 25 Jun 2007 01:33
Location: sarf lunnen

Re: Eagle Slayer statue

Post by tulse hill terry » 31 Oct 2010 11:17

I have just PMed you regarding the picture of Una and the lion with the Eagle Slayer (SALE part 4). In that picture the Eagle Slayer looks very dark as I think it should be but in this picture it looks white. Have you any information as to why both pictures are so different although it looks as if they are taken at the same time!?

I am interested in the statue of the Eagle Slayer in the background and could you tell me if this is a picture inside the Crystal Palace in 1851 and do know of any contemporary pictures of this statue? (not modern 'white' painted ones.
These are the two images you mention.

Image

London Stereoscopic Company View # 34 - The Nave

Crystal Palace SALE part 2
http://forum.sydenham.org.uk/viewtopic. ... yer#p14009

Image

More Crystal Palace in 3d part 94
http://forum.sydenham.org.uk/viewtopic. ... 111#p22111

All the sculptures in the Sydenham Crystal Palace were PLASTER. Both these images are early, and neither taken at the Great Exhibition, though the Eagleslayer was displayed at both.

John Bell produced many version of this particular work, including the ideal material marble, and cast iron, which the one displayed at the Great Exhibition was made with. This may have something to do with the work John Bell did for the firm of Coalbrookdale who produced other works by him in cast iron. This cast -iron version has stood outside the Bethnal Green Museum of Childhood since the 1920's painted black, and when it was recently restored and brought inside, was repainted white.

V&A Website
http://collections.vam.ac.uk/item/O1024 ... le-slayer/

Report on restoration
http://www.culture24.org.uk/history+%26 ... n/art23403

Some of the statues at the Crystal Palace were 'bronzed" as you say, including the cement figures outside the building on the upper terrace.

As the Eagleslayer had already been made in marble and bronze versions by the time the Crystal Palace at Sydenham opened in 1854, I can't see which is more authentic a colouring, and as it would have been delivered as white plaster first, white could have been the first state.

Hope this helps.
Last edited by tulse hill terry on 2 Nov 2010 15:11, edited 2 times in total.

jawmac
Posts: 5
Joined: 30 Oct 2010 12:03
Location: London

Re: Eagle Slayer statue

Post by jawmac » 31 Oct 2010 17:34

Thanks, Terry,
That's cleared a couple of questions. Coalbrookdale Librarian is certain that the cast iron version sent to the 1851 exhibition would have been bronzed. I was asking because the Bethnal Green version, although painted black later on, was first coloured white according to the V&A. I think their paint scrapings which showed a first paint colour of white was painted over the original bronzed finish. I think, therefor, that a complete restoration should have brought it back to its 'bronzed' state. I'm trying to find info on what it looked like in the 1851 exhibition. Many thanks for your knowledgeable reply.

tulse hill terry
Posts: 686
Joined: 25 Jun 2007 01:33
Location: sarf lunnen

Re: Eagle Slayer statue

Post by tulse hill terry » 31 Oct 2010 20:21

Apart from the London Stereoscoic series of stereoviews, there is no source for exact dating of the Negretti and Zambra stereoviews, which the two you asking about were.

EDIT: The first stereoview is by the London Stereoscopic Company, the full list can be seen here http://www.londonstereo.com/trwilliams/ ... lace1.html

Here is an image by Delamotte, taken during construction of the Sydenham Crystal Palace, and published in 1854. It shows the Sydenham cast as white, possibly still bare plaster. Delamotte returned to Sydenham in 1859, and an image from that date shows the Eagleslayer a dark shiny colour.

Image

This link to the Coalbrookdale site mentions a bronze version exhibited in 1851, alongside the cast iron version.

http://www.ironbridge.org.uk/our_attrac ... /exhibits/

I cannot find an illustration of the Eaglerslayer with it's cast-iron canopy from the Great Exhibition, but here is an image of Shakespeare also exhibited by Coalbrookdale at the Great Exhibition. As you can see it is shown white, but may be of a plaster version. I'm not aware of a permanent version of this work being made in anything but minature parian porcelain, there wasa plaster cast at Sydenham life size.

Image
Great Exhibition of 1851

Image
Plaster cast of Shakespeare at Crystal Palace Ca. 1860's.

Patination originated as a protective layer against corrosion, and is not necessarily a final finish. Little mention is made of how the cast iron version stood outside first the V&A and the Kensington Palace before being moved to Bethnal Green in the 1920's. In fact it's only recently been displayed indoors after 150 years. Black paint on victorian metalwork is often a continuation of the use of bitumen, which is maybe why the Eagleslayer was painted black until recently. [The statue of Prince Albert on his memorial has only reverted to being gilt.]

I do think it's just as possible the cast-iron version was originally painted white to imitate marble. The 1850's were the golden age of imitation and kitsch.

I see why you are looking for photographic evidence, and suggest you try the Royal Society of Arts, as they seem to have an archive of photographs documenting the interior and even indiviual statues at the Great Exhibition. They were the organisation that originated it after all. All else you would find would be watercolours and engravings.

Hope this helps.
Last edited by tulse hill terry on 2 Nov 2010 15:12, edited 1 time in total.

jawmac
Posts: 5
Joined: 30 Oct 2010 12:03
Location: London

Re: Eagle Slayer statue

Post by jawmac » 31 Oct 2010 22:32

Thanks Terry,
I'll be looking through the Illustrated London news of 1851 with all its Grt. Exhib. suppliments, on Wednesday, for clues. I'll let you know if anything newsworthy emerges.

jawmac
Posts: 5
Joined: 30 Oct 2010 12:03
Location: London

Re: Eagle Slayer statue

Post by jawmac » 3 Nov 2010 17:12

Terry, I went through the entire 1851 edition of the Illustrated London News (at the British Library newspaper department in Colindale) and the Official Description and Illustrated Catalogue of the Great Exhibition of 1851 4 Vols in the RSA). Both publications had black and white engravings of the Coalbrookdale Dome with the cast iron statue of the Eagle Slayer in the middle. The D and I Catalogue showed the statue as dark, shaded, while the Illustrated L News, when describing the case of a Collard piano which was set in the Dome wrote “ …contrasting strangely but effectively with the more sober hues of the bronze castings of the Dome”. If the statue was white to imitate Carrara marble then I’m sure this would have been mentioned.

The V&A suggests the statue was painted black (from white) to represent the Victorian ‘Zeitgeist’. However I think that theory is blown as the white, plaster statue of Shakespeare and many more ‘white’ statues in the Exhibition were not altered.
Both publications, however, only referred to the statue as cast iron and didn’t mention the finish. This seemed to suggest that ‘cast iron’ was a sufficient description.
The archivist at the RSA agreed with me that the statue definitely didn’t look white in the engraving and the Librarian and Information officer at Coalbrookdale Company said :
“Although made of cast iron (you could see the rust when it was still outside in the garden at Bethnal Green), its original finish would almost certainly have been "bronzed" (i.e. bronze dust applied to the surface by means of a heating process).”

A report dated 1931 in the Eagle Slayer’s file in the National Archives in Kew noted that the statue had been painted but from what to what, it didn’t say!
The statue was also cleaned in 1961 at Bethnal Green but left black.
I feel, therefore, that the decision to paint the statue in Bethnal Green Museum white was an error as the white paint the 2004 restorer found under the black, flaking paint was probably either a primer to black, or painted over the original bronzed finish sometime after the statue went on show.
What do you think?

Bell’s bronze model of the Eagle Slayer for which he was awarded a prize, was a separate statue as you said in a previous posting.

jawmac
Posts: 5
Joined: 30 Oct 2010 12:03
Location: London

Re: Eagle Slayer statue

Post by jawmac » 3 Nov 2010 17:29

Just to clarify or emphasise the point that the V&A suggested the statue came from Coalbrookdale Foundry painted white.

Post Reply