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Statue of George III, Somerset House

The statue of George III, Somerset House, formally titled George III and the River Thames,[1] is a Grade I listed outdoor bronze sculptural group depicting King George III and Neptune or Father Thames, located in the quadrangle of Somerset House, London, England.[2][3] The sculptor was John Bacon,[2] and the statue was erected between 1778 and 1789.[nb 1]

George III is dressed in roman apparel, leaning on a rudder, flanked by the prow of a roman boat and a lion.[3] Father Thames is reclining on a lower, semi-circular plinth, one hand on an urn with a cornucopia behind him.[3][2]

When Queen Charlotte first saw the statue of her husband she asked the sculptor 'Why did you make so frightful a figure?'. Bacon bowed and replied 'Art cannot always effect what is ever within the reach of Nature – the union of beauty and majesty.'[6]


  1. ^ The dating of the work varies. The 1841 Dictionary of dates, and universal reference gives 1788,[4] while English Heritage and a 1910 survey by the London County Council state 1780.[2][3] The Oxford Dictionary of National Biography entry for the sculptor, John Bacon, mentions commissions he received in 1788 and dates this sculpture to the 'same period'.[1] Margaret Whinney in Sculpture in Britain, 1530–1830 dates the 'design' of this and other works to 1778–1789.[5]


  1. ^ a b "Bacon, John (1740–1799)". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (online ed.). Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/994.  (Subscription or UK public library membership required.)
  2. ^ a b c d Historic England. "Statue of George III, Somerset House quadrangle (1237087)". National Heritage List for England. 
  3. ^ a b c d Gomme, George Laurence (1910). Return of Outdoor Memorials in London: Other Than Statues on the Exterior of Buildings, Memorials in the Nature of Tombstones, Memorial Buildings and Memorial Trees. London County Council. pp. 39–40. Retrieved 25 August 2014. 
  4. ^ Joseph Timothy Haydn (1841). Dictionary of dates, and universal reference. p. 485. 
  5. ^ Margaret Whinney (1992). Sculpture in Britain, 1530–1830. Yale University Press. p. 307. ISBN 978-0-300-05318-0. 
  6. ^ Hare, Augustus John Cuthbert (1878). Walks In London I. London: Daldy, Ibister & Co. pp. 36–37. Retrieved 25 August 2014. 

External links

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Coordinates: 51°30′41″N 0°07′03″W / 51.51133°N 0.11742°W / 51.51133; -0.11742{{#coordinates:51.51133|-0.11742|region:GB_type:landmark|||||| |primary |name= }}

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