Measurements: Height 59cm (23in)
Bronze figure of the Guardsman flanking the equestrian statue of the Duke of Wellington opposite Apsley House at Hyde Park Corner, London. Raised on an integral bronze base inscribed Grenadier / 1st Guards / 1815’ to the front and signed to the other side by the bronze founder ‘Elkington & Co.’ and sculptor ‘J.E. BOEHM scr.’
Sir Edgar Boehm’s Wellington Memorial Statue was executed in 1888 to replace Mathew Wyatt’s colossal 1846 equestrian statue of Wellington. Wyatt’s statue stood on top of Decimus Burton’s triumphal arch which was originally located opposite Apsley House. In 1882 a road widening scheme meant the relocation of Burton’s arch to a new position at the top of Constitution Hill, and the removal of Wyatt’s 40-ton statute to Aldershot.
The Guardsman wears the uniform of 1815 with the new addition of the bearskin cap. Following the defeat of Napoleon’s Old Guard Grenadiers at the hands of Sir Peregrine Maitland’s Guards Brigade at Battle of Waterloo on 18 June 1815, the Prince Regent issued an order awarding the 1st Foot Guards the distinction of the bearskin cap as worn by Napoleon’s Old Guard Grenadiers in place of the British Army’s regulation pattern shako. For Boehm the task of accuracy was all important in executing the four figures at the base of the Wellington statue - the other three are a Highlander, an Inniskilling Dragoon and a Welsh Fusilier, representing the three other countries of the United Kingdom. It was, as Boehm told a reporter from the Pall Mall Gazette, ‘not a small matter to get everything about their uniforms quite correct’.
Sir Edgar Boehm, Bt., R.A. (1834-1890) was born in Vienna, the son of the director of the Austrian Imperial Mint. He came to London 1848 and studied for three years, mainly at the British Museum; and afterwards in Italy, and at Paris, and Vienna, where he won the First Imperial Prize in 1856. In 1862 he settled permanently in London and later the same year first exhibited at Royal Academy. He took British nationality in 1865, and was appointed A.R.A. in 1878 and R.A. in 1882. He was a Lecturer on sculpture at Royal Academy and received the membership of several foreign academies.
Boehm enjoyed a constant flow of commissions for public monuments, portrait statues and busts and became Sculptor in Ordinary to Queen Victoria in 1881. His notable works include Lord Napier of Magdala in Queen’s Gate, Kensington; the Prince Imperial (killed in the Zulu War of 1879-80) in St George’s Chapel, Windsor; Gordon of Khartoum in St Paul’s Cathedral; Thomas Carlyle on Chelsea Embankment; the free standing figures of Queen Victoria and the Prince of Wales on Temple Bar Memorial, Fleet Street; and the portrait head of Queen Victoria for the 1887 coinage. Boehm’s was close linked to Princess Louise, Queen Victoria's artistic daughter, who apparently was the first to find Sir Edgar’s dead body in his studio off the Fulham Road.