Statue of William Shakespeare seated on the edge of a cruciform chair, his left arm over its back and hand holding a rolled up manuscript. His right forearm rests on his right knee, thumb and index finger together (once holding a bronze quill). His head is angled slightly downwards but his gaze is straight ahead. At his feet are four bronze wreaths.
Directly below these wreaths on the four striking pedestals are four bronze masks with foliage and flowers, each is individually modelled. Two of the masks are tragic and two comic, although they are understated. The masks is symbolic of the character of the additional statue which stands directly in front, and which in turn represents one of four themes:
- PRINCE HAL - Henry, Prince of Wales - eldest son of Henry IV; nicknamed 'Hal' or 'Harry', later Henry V of England. Character in the history play Henry IV (Wikipedia).
- Mask with English roses and French lilies.
- FALSTAFF - Sir John Falstaff, fictional character who appears in three plays by William Shakespeare, among them The Merry Wives of Windsor (Wikipedia).
- Mask with hops and roses.
- LADY MACBETH - Macbeth's wife, and later Queen of Scotland, in Shakespeare's tragedy Macbeth (Wikipedia).
- Mask with poppies and peonies.
- HAMLET - Prince of Denmark, in Shakespeare's tragedy Hamlet (Wikipedia), Hamlet is often perceived as a philosophical character, expounding ideas that are now described as relativist, existentialist, and sceptical.
- Mask with ivy and cypress.
Both main sections have four inscriptions, the upper quotations from the plays, and the lower, relating to the sculpture; its making and unveiling.
good night sweet prince
and flights of angels
sing thee to thy rest
life's but a walking shadow
a poor player
that struts and frets
his hour upon the stage
and then is heard no more
i am not only witty in
myself, but the cause
that wit is in other men
an angel came
and whipt the offending
adam out of him
From Henry IV
From Henry V
was removed from the
memorial theatre gardens
to this site in the year
was unveiled on the 10th of october 1888
by lady hodgson wife of sir arthur hodgson kcmg
in the fifth year of his mayorality
[bronze plaque, see below]
These figures were designed and modelled by LORD RONALD GOWER, who
presented the Monument to the Town of STRATFORD-UPON-AVON in 1888.
The work was executed in Paris and took twelve years to complete
Associated with LORD ROLAND in his task were his assistant, Monsieur L. MADRASSI;
the Tirm of TASSEL, who made all the figures save that of Hamlet, which was
entrusted to Messieurs GRAUX and MARLEY; and the House of DE CAUVILLE
and PERZINKU, who cast the wreaths, the masks, the fruit and the flowers.
The stone used in this Monument is partly Boxground Bath, partly York. The group
was erected on its original site by MR. FREDERICK TAYLOR, Contractor, under
the supervision of the Architects, Messieurs PEIGNET and MARNAY, of Paris
(Shakespeare): e. tassel Fondeur | a Paris.
(Prince Hal, Lady Macbeth): RG and tassel fondeur paris
(Hamlet): RG and graux-marly fres. | fondeurs - paris
- Lord Ronald Charles Sutherland-Leveson-Gower (1845 - 1916), known as Lord Ronald Gower,
Scottish aristocrat, Liberal politician, sculptor and writer
Sources & Information
Location N 52°11'31" W 1°42'8"
Item Code: gbwm081; Photograph: 25 June 2014
Of each statue we made photos from various angles and also detail photos of the various texts.
If you want to use photos, please contact us via the contact form (in Dutch, English or German).
© Website and photos: René & Peter van der Krogt