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Thomas Thornycroft, 1815–1885

Queen Victoria on Horseback

Former Title(s):

Equestrian statuette of Her Majesty the Queen--executed in bronze for H.R.H. Prince Albert [1854, Royal Academy of Arts, London, exhibition catalogue]

Overall: 21 1/4 x 26 1/2 x 7 1/2 inches (54 x 67.3 x 19.1 cm)

Incised on front edge: "Art,- UNION, of, LONDON, 1854"

Signed and dated on base, proper left: "T, THORNycroft. FECIT | LONDON-1853"

Credit Line:
Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Collection
Copyright Status:
Public Domain
Accession Number:
Paintings and Sculpture
Subject Terms:
bonnet | horse (animal) | portrait | woman
Associated People:
Victoria (1819–1901), queen of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, and empress of India
Not on view
IIIF Manifest:

This bronze is one of around fifty casts commissioned by the London Art Union, a membership organization that distributed statuettes and prints as prizes to its subscribers. It shows the queen riding sidesaddle, wearing a modern informal riding costume but adorned with the ribbon of the Order of the Garter. The composition was adapted from an earlier monumental equestrian statue of the queen, exhibited in 1851 as a centerpiece of the Great Exhibition at London’s Crystal Palace. Thomas Thornycroft and his wife, Mary, and later their son Hamo, were successful sculptors whose patrons included the royal family and the government.

Gallery label for installation of YCBA collection, 2016

Through the recommendation of the sculptor John Gibson, Thomas Thornycroft's wife, the sculptor Mary Thornycroft (1809-1895), received commissions from Queen Victoria and Prince Albert for portrait busts and bronze figurines of their rapidly multiplying children. Afterward, Thornycroft produced an over-life-size equestrian statue of the Queen in plaster, which was shown in 1851 at the Great Exhibition in the Crystal Palace, Hyde Park. He portrayed the queen riding sidesaddle, wearing a modern, informal riding costume (albeit with Garter ribbon and sovereign's badge), and gave her horse a jaunty gait. Thornycroft was subsequently commissioned by the Art-Union to market, in an edition of fifty, this "reduced" bronze version of the original plaster statue.

Gallery label for installation of YCBA collection, 2005

Figuring Women - The Female in Modern British Art (Yale Center for British Art, 2008-03-28 - 2008-06-08) [YCBA Objects in the Exhibition]

Taste & Beauty in Three Dimensions: Paul Mellon and British Sculpture (Yale Center for British Art, 2002-10-23 - 2004-02-15) [YCBA Objects in the Exhibition]

The Paul Mellon Bequest : Treasures of a Lifetime (Yale Center for British Art, 2001-02-17 - 2001-04-29) [YCBA Objects in the Exhibition]

" This Brilliant Year :" Queen Victoria's Jubilee, 1887, Royal Academy of Arts, London, 1977, p. 56, no. 88, DA555 M3 1977 (YCBA) [YCBA]

Advertisement - Julian , 406 Kings Row , London S.W. 10, Apollo, May 1967, p. lv, Ni A54 1967 Ads + OVERSIZE (YCBA) [YCBA]

Charles Avery, Bronze statuettes of the Art Union of London: The Rise and Decline of the Victorian Taste in Sculpture, Apollo, May 1985, pp. 329-331, 337, fig. 5, 6, N1 A54 121:2 OVERSIZE (YCBA) [YCBA]

Diana Bilbey, British Sculpture 1470-2000: A Concise Catalogue of the Collection of the Victoria and Albert Museum, V & A Publications (Victoria and Albert Museum), London, 2002, p.416, no. 686, NB464 B55 2002 (YCBA) [YCBA]

Susan P. Casteras, The substance or the shadow : images of Victorian womanhood, , Yale Center for British Art, New Haven, 1982, pp. 9, 96-7, no. 86, N7630 C27 + (YCBA) [YCBA]

Christie's (UK), Christie Advertisement July 1979, Apollo, July 1979, p. 38, N1 A54 110:1 (OVERSIZE SERIALS) (YCBA) [YCBA]

Christie's (UK), Christie's advertisement Sept. 1979, Apollo, Sept. 1979, p. 44, N1 A54 110:1 (OVERSIZE SERIALS) (YCBA) [YCBA]

Robert Colls, This sporting life : sport and liberty in England, 1760-1960, Oxford University Press, Oxford, U.K., 2020, pp. 21, 371, GV706.35 .C65 2020 (LC) YCBA [ORBIS]

Court Circular, Morning Chronicle, London, Sat 4 Feb 1854, p. 4, Available online:19th Cent Briti. Lib Newspaper [ORBIS]

General Intelligence, The Hull Packet and East Riding Times, Hull, England, Friday 10 Feb 1854, p. 7, Available online:19th Cent. Brit. Lib.Newspapers [ORBIS]

David J. Getsy, Body Doubles : Sculpture in Britain, 1877-1905, The Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art, New Haven, 2004, p. 44, NB467.5 N48 G48 2004 (YCBA) [YCBA]

Rupert Gunnis, Dictionary of British Sculptors 1660-1851, Murrays Books sales, London, 1968, p. 393, NB496 G85 1968 (YCBA) [YCBA]

International Saleroom, Connoisseur, Aug. 1969, p. 253, N1 C75 (OVERSIZE SERIALS) (YCBA) [YCBA]

Lionel Lambourne, The noble horse, man and horse in Western art history 4 April-26 May, 1998, Tokyo Metropolitan Teien Art Museum , Nihon Keizai Shimbun, Inc., Tokyo, 1998, pp. 129, 165, no. 76, N7668 H6 N6213 1998 (YCBA) [YCBA]

Walter Liedtke, Royal Horse and Rider: Painting, Sculpture, and Horsemanship 1500-1800, Abaris Books and the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, 1989, p. 327, no. 216, N7668 H6 L54 1989 OVERSIZE (YCBA) [YCBA]

London Art Union, The Builder, vol 12, 11 Feb 1854, p. 77, JA10 B868 12 (LSF Yale Class) [ORBIS]

Elfrida Manning, Marble and Bronze: The Art and Life of Hamo Thornycroft, Trefoil Books, London, 1982, pp. 30-34, fig. 19, NJ18 T387 M35 (YCBA) [YCBA]

National Portrait Gallery, Early Victorian Portraits, vol. 1, Her Majesty's Stationery Office, London, 1973, p. 487, N1090 A593 1 (YCBA) [YCBA]

Paul Mellon's Legacy : a passion for British art [large print labels], , Yale Center for British Art, New Haven, CT, 2007, v. 1, N5220 M552 P381 2007 OVERSIZE (YCBA) [YCBA]

Maurice Rheims, 19th Century Sculpture, Abrams, New York, 1977, pp. 297, 306, NB197 R4413 OVERSIZE (HAAS) [ORBIS]

Royal Academy (Third Notice), The Standard, London, Thursday 01 June 1854, p. 1, Available online:19th Cent. Brit.Lib. Newspapers [ORBIS]

Royal Academy of Arts, Exhibition Catalogue. 1854. 86th., Exhibition of the Royal Academy of Arts, no. 86, W. Clowes and sons, London, 1854, p. 53, no. 1417, N5054 .A53 v. 80-93 (YCBA) [YCBA]

Sotheby's sale catalogue : European Sculpture and Works of Art : 24 November 1999, Sotheby's, Sotheby's, London, 24 November 1999, pp.16-17, lot 78, fig. 78, Auction Catalogues (YCBA) [YCBA]

Sotheby's, [ Front Matter } : [Advertisement ] : Sotheby's sale : Fine French Animalier Bronzes and Works of Art ] : 6 March 1968, Burlington Magazine, vol. 111, March 1969, p. xxxii, N1 B87 111:1 (OVERSIZE SERIALS) (YCBA) [Website]

Talk of the Studios, The Critic, vol 13, 1 March 1854, p. 139, Available online : British Periodicals, ProQues [ORBIS]

Taste & beauty in three dimensions : Paul Mellon and British sculpture, , Yale Center for British Art, New Haven, Conn., 2002, p. [4], no. 11, V 1426 (YCBA) [YCBA]

The Fine Art Society, British Sculpture 1850-1914, , London, 1968, pp. 5, 7, 32, no. 162, NB467 F55 OVERSIZE (YCBA) [YCBA]

Elfrida Thornycroft, Bronze and Steel, The Life of Thomas Thornycroft, Sculptor and Engineer , The King's Home Press, Long Compton, 1932, pp. 55-56, 2010 356 (Beinecke) [ORBIS]

Victorian and Edwardian Decorative Arts: the Handley-Read Collection, Catalogue of an Exhibition 4 March to 30 April 1972. , Royal Academy of Arts, London, 30 April 1972, p. 55, no. C61, Fiche B257 (YCBA) Hard copy also available at LSF Nk775 L66 (OVERSIZE) [YCBA]

Malcolm Warner, The Paul Mellon Bequest : treasures of a lifetime, , Yale Center for British Art, New Haven, CT, 2001, p. 40, N5247 M385 P28 2001 (YCBA) [YCBA]

Adam White, Hamo Thornycroft and the Martyr Gerneral, vol. 2, The Henry Moore center for the Study of Sculpture, Leeds, England, 1991, p. 54, NJ18 T387 W55 1991 OVERSIZE (YCBA) [YCBA]

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