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Black Prince


Subject ID:
10238
Location:
City Centre
Subject Year:
1999
Copyright:
Leeds Library & Information Services
Class number:
MIL 12/14
Black Prince
Description:
21st September 1999 'Edward the Black Prince' (1903) by Thomas Brock. Why Edward the Black Prince should mark the city's entrance (by rail) is not immediately apparent. To commemorate Leeds's elevation from town to city in 1893 the city fathers decided to create an open civic space and the future Lord Mayor, Alderman T Walter Harding, devised and was the major benefactor of a sculptural scheme to decorate it. Major cities display their civic pride, wealth and power through symbols such as sculpture, of which the equestrian statue is one of the most potent. To take its place in the arena Leeds needed a champion. 'The Black Prince' was chosen (somewhat controversially) to symbolise chivalry, good government, patronage of the arts and education, encouragement of industry, and democratic values; the names of men from the princes era entwining the pedestal emphasise the allegory. Sir John Chandos (founder member of the Order of the Garter); Walter de Mannay (soldier); Bertram du Guesclin (military leader); Chaucer (father of English literature); Van Artevelde (encouraged Flemish weavers and dyers to visit northern England, laying the foundations of the textile industry); William of Wykham (Lord Chancellor, Bishop of Winchester, endowed Winchester College, and New College, Oxford, member of the Good Parliament). The bronze low relief panels on the pedestal show land and sea battles, evoking the Prince's heroism against France (particularly topical in the light of contemporary rivalry for Africa's gold coast). The grand bronze took 7 years to complete and had to be cast in Belgium as it was too large for any British foundry. The Black Prince was brought to City Square in Venetian style by barge from Hull along the Aire and Calder Navigation and unveiled on 16 September 1903. Although the sculptor Thomas(later Sir Thomas) Brock was criticised for 'just a touch of the stage heroics' the equestrian was an assured success and Brock went on to sculpt the national memorial to Queen Victoria in The Mall, London. Harding envisaged an equivalent for Leeds of the grand piazzas which graced the centres of the historic Italian city states. For Leeds this would be an equestrian of an heroic royal prince, namesake of the current heir to the throne, set in an illuminated diadem of figure lamps. 4 paladins of Leeds civic pride, Watt, Harrison, Hook and Priestley were added to complete the composition. During the 1960s City Square was rearranged and various elements removed' Source: Hall M, Leeds Statues Trail, Walkabout Series p4-5.

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