“Richard Coeur de Lion is a Grade II listed equestrian statue of the 12th-century English monarch Richard I, also known as Richard the Lionheart, who reigned from 1189–1199. It stands on a granite pedestal in Old Palace Yard outside the Palace of Westminster in London, facing south towards the entrance to the House of Lords. It was created by Baron Carlo Marochetti, an Italian sculptor whose works were popular with European royalty and the nobility, though often less well regarded by critics and the artistic establishment. The statue was first produced in clay and displayed at The Great Exhibition in 1851, where it was located outside the west entrance to the Crystal Palace. It was well received at the time and two years later Queen Victoria and Prince Albert headed a list of illustrious subscribers to a fund that aimed to raise money for the casting of the statue in bronze.
Although the money was duly raised and the bronze cast of the statue was finally completed in 1856, a lengthy dispute delayed its installation for several years. The original idea had been to erect the statue as a memorial to the Great Exhibition. This prompted opposition, as did proposals to place it outside Charles Barry’s newly completed Palace of Westminster. Various other locations to display the statue were initially considered before agreement was reached that it would be placed in Old Palace Yard, Marochetti’s preferred location. It was installed in October 1860, though it was not until March 1867 that it was finally completed with the addition of bronze bas-reliefs on either side of the pedestal.
The quality of the statue’s workmanship caused problems during its first half-century; the horse’s tail fell off the day after it was installed at the Great Exhibition, and forty years after its installation it was discovered to be riddled with holes and to have never been properly attached to its pedestal. It narrowly escaped destruction during the Second World War when a German bomb dropped during the Blitz landed a few metres away and peppered it with shrapnel. The pedestal and the horse’s tail were damaged and Richard’s sword was bent by the blast. In 2009, the Parliamentary authorities undertook a project to conserve and restore the statue.
The king is depicted wearing a crowned helmet and a chainmail shirt with a surcoat, and lifting a sword into the air. The horse paws the ground, as if preparing for a charge into battle. Marochetti described his work as being inspired by Richard I rather than accurately depicting a 12th-century knight.
It stands on a granite pedestal also designed by Marochetti and made by Freeman & Co. of Penryn, Cornwall. Bas-relief panels showing Crusaders fighting the Saracens at the Battle of Ascalon and Richard on his deathbed pardoning Bertran de Born, the archer who fatally shot him in 1199, were added to the east and west sides of the pedestal in 1866–67. As the statue cannot be accessed by the general public – the area around it is used as the House of Lords car park – the west-side scene showing Richard and Bertran is the only one visible from the street. According to Marochetti, the two bas-reliefs were designed in the style of Lorenzo Ghiberti’s doors at the Florence Baptistry. Bronze letters on the front of the pedestal bear the inscription RICHARD I CŒUR DE LION / 1189–1199.
The great majority of the art in and around the Houses of Parliament is of British origin, due to a policy of acquiring British art for the building. Marochetti’s statue thus represents one of the few examples of a non-British artist’s work being selected for the Parliamentary estate…”
From: The Victorian Web:
“…Charles Marochetti, as he now called himself, might seem to have become a part of the British scene, like, for instance, his fellow-countrymen Gabriele Rossetti (Professor of Italian at King’s College London, and father of the Rossettis) and Anthony Pannizi, who became the first principal librarian of the British Library and whose bust by Marochetti is displayed in the British Library. But he still had to overcome opposition. While John Ruskin admired him, others, notably Francis Turner Palgrave, did not. Palgrave considered him too theatrical: “spurious, sensational and full of tricks” (Piggott 120). One disappointment was the failure of his plan to have his three statues of important civil engineers, Brunel, Robert Stephenson and Joseph Locke placed together outside St Margaret’s Church at Westminster. Apart from xenophobia, one reason for disapproval may have been that, as surviving correspondence shows, he did treat his work as a business. He was also suspected of trading on royal favour to gain commissions (see Read 79). In this respect he was quite different from his fellow-exile Triqueti, who was wealthy enough to work for the love of his art. Nevertheless Ward-Jackson suggests that Marochetti should be credited “with some altruism in the matter of wishing to raise statues to politicians or creatively gifted persons (The Lustrous Trade, 177)…”
Katlynn Miller wrote at westendatwar.org.uk:
“The Houses of Parliament and the immediate area around Westminster Abbey first suffered air raid damage on 11 September 1940. An anti-aircraft shell fell in Old Palace Yard, blowing out several windows in the Abbey and causing minor damage to its Henry VII Lady Chapel.
Two weeks later, at 12.10am, 27 September, City of Westminster ARP message forms record that Old Palace Yard was hit again – this time much closer to Parliament – by a high explosive bomb and by several incendiaries (including an oil-incendiary bomb). Three casualties were reported.
The western frontage of the Houses of Parliament – including the public entrance situated on Abingdon Street and the southern wall of St Stephen’s Porch – was badly damaged. The famous bronze statue of Richard the Lionheart was hit by the blast: the tip of the King’s sword was bent forward. A crater was left near the front of the building, doors were broken and ceilings brought down. Telephone lines were cut and most of the windows in the House of Lords were shattered.
More damage was also caused to the Henry VII Lady Chapel, Westminster Abbey. Masonry and windows were blown out and a small hole perforated the Chapel wall. Local water mains were damaged and overhead electric cables brought down. The ARP reported damage to local houses and minor injuries; several members of the Home Guard stationed in nearby Westminster Hall were knocked over by blast. Initial damage to coal gas mains caused fire to erupt but it was quickly extinguished.”