Monument to the Duke of Wellington
St Paul's Cathedral - Virtual Tour
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The central bay of the North Aisle is almost completely occupied by the huge monument to Arthur Wellesley, first Duke of Wellington.
The Duke's body lies in the Crypt, in an enormous red-marble sarcophagus; but here in the Cathedral proper he is honoured with one of the most important pieces of sculpture in England in the nineteenth century.
The concept of the monument was the work of Alfred Stevens, who also, between 1858 and 1875, carried out much of the work, but left it uncompleted at his death. The monument stood originally in what is now the Chapel of St Michael and St George. It was was moved to its present site in 1906.
Beneath an arched structure which recalls the classical Triumphal Arch reclines a bronze effigy of the Duke, on a massive sarcophagus also of bronze.
The base of the sarcophagus rests on a densely-carved pile made up of the spoils of war: cannons, shields, the standards of the fallen enemy.
Above the arch is a large block in the shape of a chest, which serves as the plinth for an equestrian statue, realised by John Tweed from studies by Stevens, and made between 1899 and 1911.
On either side of this plinth are groups of figures: facing west is Valour and Cowardice, which shows Valour crushing Cowardice beneath a shield.
On the east-facing side is Truth and Falsehood, in which Truth, seated on a throne, thrusts Falsehood down and away. Both these allegorical groups are strongly influenced by Michelangelo.