London und Westminster
Hyde Park Corner
Arthur Wellesley 1st Duke of Wellington
Wellington has held his place in history well and his reputation has weathered the storms of historical distortion. He was not a ‘cosy' figure by any means, nor did he have the romantic air of Nelson. He was a hard disciplinarian who would hang a man or flog him without much compunction and who referred to his soldiery as 'scurn'. In spite of this his men loved and respected him and called him affectionately 'Old Nosey', for they knew that, underneath, he regarded the majority of his men, who had been knocked into shape by army discipline, as 'fine fellows'. In reality he admired them but would never show it. He disliked any display of feelings and even objected to being cheered by his own troops as he considered this bad for discipline. His sang froid on all occasions was renowned. He hated the mob and showed it, yet when they were not breaking his windows, they were cheering themselves hoarse at him.
Wellington's appeal remains an enigma - he is not and never was a popular folk-hero like Drake, or in his strange way, Kitchener, yet he stands out today, almost as much as in Queen Victoria's reign, as a colossus who commands out attention and admiration. His stock is as high now as it has ever been despite the climate of abuse and hatred brought about by those to whom greatness is anathema. Perhaps the tide is turning and there is a need for heroic figures once again to replace the common- place and the mediocre who characterise the age. Perhaps realisation is slowly dawning that the very forces which the Duke tried so hard but unsuccessfully to modify have now reached their logical conclusion in a nightmare of 'liberty' and 'freedom' in the guises of licence and permissiveness. Whatever the reasons there is a mystique about the Iron Duke which is unshakeable.
The ensuing pages will give a brief account of the greatness of Wellington as a soldier and a politician, but his private life will hardly be touched upon, so it is, perhaps, relevant to mention his marriage here as it must have had some effect on the man's character in the long run. Marrying Kitty Pakenham was the Duke's only big mistake in life. It was a most unsuitable match as although the Duke tried to make the marriage work, the poor woman simply could not play the part of the wife of the greatest man alive. She was a bit feather-brained and a constant source of irritation to him. Luckily his lack of domestic felicity was made up for in part by his friendship with Mrs. Arbuthnot who was intelligent, sympathetic and the wife of one of his dearest friends. Gossips had it that she was his mistress. The Duke had his moments, it is true, but anyone reading Mrs. Arbuthnot's entertaining journals could hardly believe that he erred in that direction. Certainly his name appears on allmost every page, and there is no doubt that she was flattered by the attention of the hero of Waterloo, but that is all. No doubt the Duke would have wished otherwise. He was probably the first man ever recorded as having told another woman that his wife did not understand him! In an entry in her journal for June 22nd 1822, Mrs. Arbuthnot writes: 'He assured me that he had repeatedly tried to live in a friendly manner with her, had determined that he would communicate all his projects to her and endeavoured to make his pursuits and interests the same as hers; but he assured me that it was impossible, that she did not understand him, that she could not enter with him into the consideration of all important concerns which are continually occupying his mind, and that he found he might as well talk to a child.' This succinctly sums up one aspect of his marriage and tells us that beneath the 'iron' facade he was a human being.
Wellington was the very antithesis of a radical, for a radical professes to love all mankind but often cares little for his fellow men as individuals. The Duke, on the other hand, had no time for the masses or Democracy and had a poor opinion of his troops, but he seldom turned away a plea for help for good causes or from people in need and he meticulously answered begging letters from scroungers and cranks. Old veterans of his campaigns fallen on hard times could always rely on his charity. In spite of the reputation for meanness he had in his personal household, his generosity to individuals was such that he was often the victim of unscrupulous tricksters.
How can one sum up in a few words the mystique of Wellington? He was first and foremost a man who spoke his mind - a tower of common sense and dependability with absolutely no nonsense about him. He was brilliant as a strategist and a diplomatist; courageous as a soldier and politician; a hard though a just man who seemed to embody all the most admirable Attributes of an old fashioned English Gentleman. Although over two hundred years have elapsed since his birth, neither death nor time have diminished his appeal.
(Robert Innes-Smith: The Mystique of Wellington. In: Viscount Montgomery u. a.: Welligton. Derby: English Life Publ- ications Ltd. 1980. S. 4.)
Gebäude und Monumente
Hyde Park Corner is of a roughly triangular shape - the meeting point of two distinct parts of London. Apsley House ends Piccadilly, the hospital begins Belgravia. lt is hard to say what buildings belong to it, what to other addresses. In spite of this unpromising shape, however, the corner was regarded as the most important entry into London and from the middle of the 18th century onwards schemes were put forward by architects or commissioned from archi- tects to make it a monumental composition. Robert Adam in 1778 proposed a triumphal arch and east of it, to the north and south, screens with gateways to the two royal parks. Jeffry Wyatt in 1794 exhibited another scheme, Soane in 1796 yet another. This gradually grew in his mind in relation to a new royal palace which he wished the King to build in the Northwest corner of Green Park. Nothing came of this. The palace in the end became Nash's converted Buckingham House. But the composition of screens and gateway did after all materialise, though in a very much reduced form. In 1825 young Decimus Burton was asked to design the Hyde Park Corner Screen and Constitution Arch. The screen is tripartite, the three arches being separated by two screens of five Ionic columns each on the pattern of Adam's Syon House Screen. The archways have Ionic columns, coupled in the centre, and the centre moreover rises into an attic with a sculptured frieze (by John Henning Jun., together with his father and brother) clearly of Parthenon derivation. The screen was meant to be the grand exit from the park towards Buckingham Palace, and the Constitution Arch originally stood in line with it. The Constitution Arch is Corinthian, with big coupled columns, a heavy attic, and only one archway. In 1846, when it was erected, an equestrian statue of Wellington (by M. Cotes Wyatt; now at Aldershot) was placed on top of the arch. In 1883 it was given its less satisfactory position at the head of Constitution Hill, and in 1912 a bronze Victory in a chariot by Adrian Jones was placed on top. Heavy iron gates, cast by Bramah's. In the open space between the two arches are several monuments, only accessible by underpass: the equestrian statue of Wellington with four soldiers against the granite pedestal, by Boehm, 1888, the Royal Artil- lery Monument by C. S. Jagger, 1925, with the ill-advised portrait in stone of a big gun as the centre of the composition, and the Machine Gun Corps Memorial by Derwent Wood, also 1925, with a good bronze statue of a naked youth with a sword. [...]
The north east side has Apsley House, its Bath stone contrasting pleasantly against the colder grey of the screen. Apsley House was built in 1771 - 78 by Robert Adam for Henry Bathurst Baron Apsley. It was smaller than it is now and showed its brick walls. In 1828 - 29 Wellington faced the house with Bath stone, adding the giant Corinthian portico and pediment and an extension on the west side. The architects were Benjamin and Philip Wyatt. Inside there is still enough to remind one of Adam: the fine semicircular staircase, the Drawing Room with its apse to the east, and the Portico Room. Wyatt's major interior is the Waterloo Gallery, typical of his style in the heavy gilding and the free use of Dixhuitième decoration. Of his time also the heavy cast-iron stair-rail just turning from Empire to a neo-Rococo. Of the collection of paintings nothing can here be said, but mention must at least be made of Canova's 11 feet statue of Napoleon as a nude hero, holding in the palm of his hand a gilt statuette of Victory. The statue was made in 1802 - 10 and set up for a time in the Louvre. The British Government bought it in 1816 for Wellington. - Two Wel- lington busts by Chantrey, 1823, and Sir John Steell, 1846, make an interesting comparison. Several other busts. - In the Waterloo Gallery two tall candelabra of mauve Siberian porphyry and the immense silver centrepiece for the dining table made for the Duke in Portugal about 1815.
(Nikolaus Pevsner: London. Vol. I: The Cities of London and Westminster. 3. rev. ed. Harmondsworth: Penguin 1973. S. 504, 591f.)
Monumente und Denkmäler
Opposite Apsley House, which stands at the west end of Piccadilly and was once known as Number 1 London since it was the first house inside the Hyde Park turnpike gate, is a bronze statue of Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wel- lington (1769 - 1852). It shows the Duke riding Copenhagen, the horse which carried him for over sixteen hours at the battle of Waterloo and which was honourably retired to the Duke's country home, Stratfield Saye, and eventually buried with full military honours; the horse's tombstone bears the words: 'God's humbler instrument, though meaner clay, Shall share the glory of that glorious day.' Forty horses were needed to drag the stone figure of Copenhagen to the site. The Duke is guarded by a Grenadier, a Royal Highlander, a Welsh Fusilier and an Inniskilling Dragoon and the statue faces his old home, now the Wellington Museum, where on the anniversary of the battle Wellington's officers would dine with their commander-in-chief in the Waterloo Chamber. The figures are cast from twelve French cannon captured in Wellington's battles. The 'lron Duke', usually remembered exclusively for his military activities and greatly admired by his troops (one infantry captain said 'We would rather see his long nose in a fight than a reinforcement of ten thousand any day'), had a gentler side to his character. A pleasant story is told of an occasion when he found a small boy crying because he was going away to school next day and was worried about the welfare of his pet toad in his absence. The Duke took full particulars, promising to look into the matter, and in due course the boy received a letter at school: 'Field Marshal the Duke of Wellington presents his compliments to Master - and has the pleasure to inform him that his toad is well.' [...]
Also on this traffic island is the Wellington Arch built by Decimus Burton and which originally stood opposite the main entrance to Hyde Park and was moved here in 1883 when the crowning statue of Wellington was taken down and sent to Aldershot. The group which surmounts it is of Peace in her quadriga and dates from 1912. lt was given by Lord Michelham in memory of Edward VII. Captain Adrian Jones, its sculptor, spent 23 years in the cavalry (which included three campaigns), then turned successfully to sculpture. This work, which took four years to complete, is regarded as his crowning achievement. His skill at depicting horses was, not surprisingly, legendary and this piece has the unusual quality of presenting an almost identical silhouette from either side. Before the quadriga was set up Captain Jones entertained a group of friends to tea inside the horses. [...]
In Hyde Park itself, on the left of the ring road from Hyde Park Corner to Marble Arch, is a colossal bronze figure known as the Achilles Statue (the 'Ladies' Trophy') by Sir Richard Westmacott RA. This figure, erected in 1822, is really a copy of one of the horse-tamers on the Monte Cavallo in Rome and not Achilles at all. It cost £ 10,000 and was paid for by the women of England to commemorate the Duke of Wellington. The naive subscribers were rudely surprised by the statue's nakedness when it finally appeared! It was cast from cannon captured in the Peninsular War and although it was not intended as a likeness visitors expected the face to be Wellington's. One Napoleonic veteran visiting London in 1850, and depressed by the great quantity of Wellingtoniana everywhere, exclaimed with relief when he looked at it: 'Enfin, on est vengé!'
(Margaret Baker: London Statues and Monuments. 3. compl. rev. Ed. Princes Risborough: Shire Publications Ltd. 1992. S. 53 - 56.)
Stichwort zur Kunstgeschichte: Reiterstandbild
|In feierlichem Einzug fuhr der Triumphator
im Kostüm des Jupiter in einem vierspännigen Wagen, der Quadriga,
in die Stadt ein. Das Bauwerk selbst besteht aus einem ein- oder dreibogigen
Unterbau, gebildet aus Pfeiler und Halbtonne und der Attika darüber,
die als Bekrönung Statuen, ein Quadriga oder auch ein Reiterstandbild
trägt. Als „klassischer Typ“ des Triumphbogens kann auch der abgebildete
Trajansbogen gelten, mit Halbsäulen neben dem Durchgang, Dreiviertelsäulen
an den Ecken auf gemeinsamem Sockel, verbunden durch die dazwischen gesetzten
Relieffelder. Neben der Darstellung des Triumphzuges am umlaufenden Bogenfries
zieren die Bogenzwickel Flußgötter und Viktorien. Der Schlußstein
der Archivolte trägt das Bildnis des Kaisers Trajan. Die übrigen
Szenen illustrieren Wirken und Taten Trajans in Rom und den Provinzen.
Meist gehören noch Waffenreliefs und Trophäen sowie Soldaten
und Gefangene zu den Triumphalzeichen. In der Neuzeit wurden die Triumphbogen
[...] zu den Konzentrationspunkten politischer Festivitäten, so daß
sie gewissermaßen den Rang nationaler „Weihestätten“. [...]
Der Triumphbogen ist in der Neuzeit zum Inbegriff des Siegesdenkmals schlechthin
geworden, zum Denkmal der Verherrlichung von Stärke und Überlegenheit
eines Staates oder einer Nation.
(Elisabeth Moortgat: Schinkels Triumphbogen. In: Jochen Boberg (Hrsg.): Schinkel II. Sonderheft des Museumspädagogischen Dienstes Berlin. Berlin o. J. S. 2 - 5.)
Der Versuch, an Hyde Park Corner einen öffentlichen Platz zu gestalten, ist gründlich mißlungen, und wer ihn rechtfertigen wollte, müßte wahrlich ein London-Liebhaber quand même sein. Es steht jedenfalls fest, daß alle Verbesserungen und Verschönerun-gen, die kürzlich dort vorgenommen wurden, lediglich erneut die Erbärmlichkeit der einzelnen umgebenden Elemente zu Bewußtsein gebracht haben, und diese Erbärmlichkeit ist auf erschreckende Weise bezeichnend für gewisse allgemeine Zustände.
Dieser Platz ist das pulsierende Herz des großen West End, aber was es dort zu sehen gibt, sind vor allem ein schäbiges, stuckverziertes Hospital, die niedrigen Parktore mit ihrer hübschen, aber ganz und gar nicht beeindruckenden Umrahmung, die Fenster des Salons von Apsley House und die Allerweltsfassaden der daneben stehenden Häuserreihe. Hinzu kommt natürlich noch das einzige, was sich in diesem Bild auch nur annähernd monumental ausnimmt, nämlich der Bogen, der die an den Gärten des Buckingham-Palastes vorbeiführende Straße überspannt. Dieses Bauwerk ist inzwischen des kläglichen, den Eisernen Herzog in der Pose eines Zinnsoldaten darstellenden Standbil-des entkleidet worden, von welchem es bis vor kurzem gekrönt wurde, doch hat der Bogen durch diese Maßnahme nicht so viel gewonnen wie erhofft.
Man hat zwar einen schönen Blick auf Piccadilly und Knightsbridge sowie auf die, wie Grundstücksmakler das zu nennen pflegen, herrschaftlichen Anwesen am Grosvenor Place, und man ahnt die weiten Flächen, die sich hinter dem kümmerlichen Zäunchen des Green Park ausdehnen; doch geht von diesem Platz keinerlei Inspiration aus, es sei denn zu dem Gedanken, hier wäre Raum für etwas Besseres gewesen. Kaum weniger als beim Anblick der schmutzig-grauen Einöde des Trafalgar Square muß man dort zu dem Schluß kommen, daß eine große Möglichkeit vertan worden ist.
(Henry James: Hyde Park Corner. Eine
vertane Möglichkeit. In: Harald Raykowski (Hrsg.): Reisetextbuch London.
München: dtv 1986. S. 56f.)
Inschriften an Monumenten und Denkmälern
TO ARTHUR DUKE OF WELLINGTON
PLACED ON THIS SPOT
2. Reiterstandbild Wellingtons
1769 - 1852
J. E. BOEHM fecit
3. Wellington Arch
THE QUADRIGA SURMOUNTING THIS
Britische Außenpolitik 1793 - 1815
|1793 01.02.||Kriegserklärung Frankreichs an England|
|Admiral Nelson besiegt die Flotte der mit den Franzosen verbündeten Spanier bei Kap Saint Vincent und verhindert eine Invasion in Spanien.|
|1798 01.08.||Nelson vernichtet vor Abukir (Ägypten) die französische Flotte, die Napoleons Invasion in Ägypten decken soll.|
|Die Engländer besiegen bei Alexandria Napoleons Ägyptenarmee, die nach weiteren Niederlagen im Spätsommer kapituliert.|
|1802 27.03.||Friede zu Amiens zwischen England und Frankreich: England beherrscht die Meere|
|1803 17.05.||Erneuter Krieg zwischen Frankreich und England|
|Nelson vernichtet den Großteil der französisch- spanischen Flotte am Kap Trafalgar. Die Engländer verlieren kein einziges Schiff, wohl aber ihren Admiral. Dieser Sieg sichert Großbritanniens Vorherr- schaft zur See für rund hundert Jahre.|
|Napoleon verkündet offiziell die Kontinentalsperre gegen England, um das auf Export von Industrie- gütern und Import von Lebensmitteln und Rohstoffen angewiesene Land in Überproduktion und Ar- beitslosigkeit zu stürzen und es von seinem Im- und Export abzuschneiden.|
|1808 Aug.||Wellington erobert Lissabon und kämpft im "Peninsular War" gegen Frankreich in Spanien|
|1813 21.06.||Wellington siegt bei Vitoria über die Franzosen und dringt in der Folgezeit bis Bordeaux vor.|
|1815 18.06.||Wellington und Blücher besiegen Napoleon bei Waterloo.|