Sculpture Journal

W. H. Thornycroft’s statue of Oliver Cromwell and the bitter waters of Babylon

Sculpture Journal (2020), 29, (2), 179–192.

Abstract

This article looks at the circumstances under which London got its first permanent commemorative statue of the Lord Protector, in 1899. In a period in which republican ideals seemed to be rather in retreat, the main opponents of the project were Irish Catholics, offended by the Liberal Party’s sidelining of Home Rule. The Earl of Rosebery, frustrated in his search for government funding for the statue, found support from the Jewish community, for whom Cromwell had been a historic benefactor. The problem for the sculptor was how to represent a man who for some had been a murderous oppressor, while by others he was seen as a tolerant facilitator of trade.

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Author details

Ward-Jackson, Philip