Thomas Gransow

London und Westminster

Hyde Park Corner

Text 1
Arthur Wellesley 1st Duke of Wellington

It is one of  the  unhappiest characteristics of the second half of  the twentieth century that every virtue which  made the British into a great nation and later, as an even greater imperial power, one of the most influential forces for good in the world, has been systematically attacked and eradicated by subversive self-styled 'liberal' forces. One of the results of this erosion of the traditional qualities of honour, discipline, loyalty, and morality is an anti-hero cult in which great men and great deeds are forgotten or denigrated and patriotism ridiculed. Lawrence of Arabia, Kitchener, Haig and French for example have all been attacked and their achievements devalued. Films, books and in particular television, pour out a continual stream of corrosive and misleading materials until the majority of people begin to believe it all. One man who has so far escaped the attentions of the denigrators, in spite of the fact that he personified all the old virtues and stood steadfastly against change and the rising forces of radicalism, is the first Duke of Wellington. Although the Duke suffered much abuse and even physical violence during his lifetime, his subsequent detractors have been negligible.

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.)


Text 2
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.)


Text 3
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.)


Text 4
Stichwort zur Kunstgeschichte: Reiterstandbild

Hoch zu Roß fühlten sich die Herrscher seit der Antike passend verewigt. Diese Sonderform des Denkmals symbolisierte militärische oder politische Macht. [...] Als frühestes erhaltenes und deshalb einflußreichstes Werk dieser Art gilt der kaiserzeitliche Marc Aurel, der über Jahrhunderte hinweg auf dem Kapital in Rom von der Antike kündete (siehe Abbildung rechts). Der ohne Sattel „all'antica“ reitende Imperator [dem als einzigem die öffentliche Aufstellung erlaubt war] zeigte sich ohne Rüstung auf einem vor Kraft strotzenden Pferd [und macht die übliche Geste der „allocutio“, der Ansprache]. [...] Das edle Roß blieb bis zum Mittelalter das Attribut des Kaisers, Königs, Edelmanns. Erst um 1400 rückt der Feldherr in diese Riege der Ruhmreichen auf. Im italienischen Trecento wurde dieser Typus in Kombination mit der Grabmalsplastik gebräuchlich [...].

Mit Donatellos Gattamelata auf dem Platz vor der Kirche S. Antonio in Padua erhält der Typus eine neue Bedeutung. [...] Donatello orientierte sich am Marc Aurel und an der Antike: Das Kostüm bildet eine Mischung aus zeitgenössischer und antiker Tracht, die Betonung der Physiognomie des Kopfes verweist auf spätkaiserliche Portraitkunst, Pferd und Reiter bilden eine Einheit. Der von der Fassade der Kirche weggerückte, aber daran ausgerichtete Sockel erinnert mit seinen Scheintüren - die auf römische Sarkophage zurückgehen - an die italienische Tradition des Reiterstandbilds als Grabmal.

Wenig später schuf wiederum ein Florentiner, Andrea del Verrocchio, das Reiterstandbild des Colleoni neben der Kirche SS. Giovanni e Paolo in Venedig (siehe Abbildung links). [...] Der stolz in den Steigbügeln stehende Feldherr in zeitgenössischer Rüstung verzichtet völlig auf Anspielungen auf eine Funktion als Grabmal und stellt damit das früheste europäische Monument dar, das ausschließlich der Verherrlichung der Taten des Dargestellten gilt.

Neben diesen auf den Marc Aurel zurückgehenden Reiterstandbildern, bei denen das trabende Pferd stets ein Vorderbein erhoben hat, setzte sich seit Leonordo da Vinci ein zweiter Typus durch, der nicht nur Gianlorenzo Bernini inspirierte, sondern auch Maler wie etwa Rubens. [...] Leonardo, der selber Pferde gehalten haben soll, verlagerte den Schwerpunkt von der Darstellung des Reiters auf die Monumentalität und Ausdruckskraft des Tiers. [...]

Im italienischen Hochbarock erfreute sich Leonardos Schöpfung neuer Beliebtheit. Bei seinem Reiterstandbild für Ludwig IV. griff Bernini auf   Leonardos sich aufbäumendes Pferd zurück, desgleichen Folconet bei seinem Monument für den russischen Zaren, Peter I. Für repräsentative Zwecke 

dagegen setzte sich im Barock jedoch das trabende Pferd durch [wie z. B. bei der Darstellung des Großen Kurfürsten durch Andreas Schlüter, dem ersten unter freiem Himmel in Deutschland errichteten Reiterdenkmal (siehe Abbildung rechts)]. 

Ausgangspunkt des seit Mitte des 18. Jahrhunderts virulent werdenden Kostümstreits war die strenge Haltung der Klassizisten, Personen in göttlicher Nacktheit oder antiker Gewandung darzustellen. Der Wandel Vom Klassizismus zum Realismus, von der Toga zur Uniform, wird [...] an dem damals maßgeblichen Reiterstandbild Friedrichs II. von Christian Daniel Rauch deutlich. Rauch folgte dem klassischen Denkmalaufbau (Postament: Darstellung der Geschichte, Sockel: Darstellung von Staat und Volk, krönende Figur: Herrscher). [...] Mit der Romantik gewann der Patriotismus an Boden. [...] Während des Biedermeier setzte die Produktion von bürgerlichen Denkmälern ein, die den dritten Stand repräsentierten. [...] Das der Natur abgesehene Menschenbild, statuarisch und programmatisch unverfänglich, verbrauchte sich schnell.

(Text: Carmela Thiele: Skulptur. Köln: Dumont 1995. S. 48 - 51, 106 - 108. / Abbildun-gen: Heinz Braun: Formen der Kunst. Gesamtausgabe. München: Lurz 1974. S. 95, 229, 306.) 


Text 5
Stichwort zur Kunstgeschichte: Triumphbogen

Der Triumphbogen ist eine Denkmalsform aus der römischen Antike, die sich über das Mittelalter, die Renaissance, das Barock bis ins 19. und 20. Jahrhundert nachgestaltet und abgeändert erhalten hat. In der Neuzeit zum wichtigen Typus von Staatsdenkmälern geworden, taucht der Triumphbogen häufig auch in Verbindung mit Reiterstandbildern oder Siegessäulen auf. Im republikanischen Rom entstanden, gehörte er in der Kaiserzeit zu der Form von Staatsmonumenten, die dem Imperator, meist nach einem sieg siegreich geführten Feldzug gesetzt wurden.
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.)

Text 6
Eine vertane Möglichkeit

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.)

Text 7
Inschriften an Monumenten und Denkmälern

1.   Achilles



2. Reiterstandbild Wellingtons

                                           6TH INNISKILLING                                                                                                                           23RD ROYAL
                                                         DRAGOONS                                                                                                                           WELSH FUSILIERS

1769 - 1852

                                                        1ST GUARDS                                                                                                                           42ND ROYAL

                                                                                                                                    J. E. BOEHM fecit

3. Wellington Arch



(Thomas Gransow)

Text 8
Britische Außenpolitik 1793 - 1815
1793   01.02. Kriegserklärung Frankreichs an England
1797   Feb.
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.
1801   21.03. 
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
1805   21.10. 


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.
1806   26.11.


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.
(Thomas Gransow)

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