Bust of the Duke of Wellington

Weigall, Henry
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Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington (1769-1852) is the colonial namesake for Wellington city since the New Zealand Company founded the settlement. Wellesley supported Edward Gibbon Wakefield’s theory of colonisation, and a figurehead of the Duke was carried by the Tory as it sailed Wellington Harbour in 1839 to select a settlement site. Initially established in Petone as Britannia, the settlement shifted to its present Wellington city site in 1840 and was renamed in the Duke’s honour.

Born in Dublin, the son of the Earl of Mornington, Wellesley served in India from 1797-1805 as an administrator and soldier. Between1809-14 he defeated the French in a series of battles in Portugal and Spain, including at Talavera, Busaco, Ciudad Rodrigo, Badajoz, Salamanca and San Sebastian. He was made Baron Douro and Viscount Wellington in 1809 and Duke of Wellington in 1814. At Waterloo, in June 1815 he inflicted a decisive defeat on Napoleon for which he is most well-known. Wellesley died at Walmer Castle, Kent, in 1852 and is buried in the crypt of St Paul’s Cathedral, London.

Aspects of the Duke of Wellington’s coat of arms are incorporated in the city’s arms. Many place names in Wellington are associated with the Duke, including the Wellesley Club, Mornington suburb, Talavera Terrace, Busaco Road, Rodrigo Road, Salamanca Road, San Sebastian Street, Douro Avenue, Wellington Road, Waterloo Quay and Walmer Street.

This bronze bust of the legendary Duke was made in 1851 by Henry Weigall and cast by Elkington & Company, London. The original was exhibited at the Royal Academy of Arts in London in 1852. Wellington's fame was such that sculptors could cast and sell numerous versions of the same work. This work is ‘No. 2’. At least six examples of this one are known. Weigall (1800 - 1883) was initially a gem-engraver and medalist, who later turned to sculpture.

Copies are held in the British Government Art Collection (No. 11, currently displayed at Downing Street), at the Victoria & Albert Museum (No. 6) and the Birmingham Museum.

The Duke is pictured wearing the Order of the Fleece around his neck, awarded to him by Spain. Wellington had a plethora of British and foreign decorations and different portraits show him wearing different ones.
bronze and oak wood
Bust: height 750mm, shoulder span 540mm.
Plinth-upper: 585mm high x 504mm wide, less metal band.
Plinth-lower: 775mm high x 504mm wide.
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