Queen Victoria's statue (original location) [1896-1944] | Gwulo: Old Hong Kong

Queen Victoria's statue (original location) [1896-1944]

Current condition: 
Demolished / No longer exists
Date Place completed: 
1896-05-28
Date Place demolished: 
1944-01-01
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The photo I have here (also seen as a postcard used 1903) states, ...commissioned to commemorate her Golden Jubilee.... and was completed in 1898.

The Hong Kong Club in the background is nearly complete.

Thanks Marlowe, I've updated the date.

The erection of the statue of Queen Victoria was completed in May 1896 and unveiled on the 28th day of the same month on her 77th birthday by Governor Robinson. The statue had previously been completed in 1890 by Signor M. Raggi. The reason for the long delay in the erection of the statue was to allow for part of the land on the praya central reclamation to be completed.

Extract from my research on the Statues of Statue Square:

The Queen Victoria Statue, unveiled 28th May 1896.  In 1887 at Queen Victoria’s golden jubilee celebrations, it was decided that a statue of Her Majesty should be erected and placed prominently in Hong Kong.  Nine years on and following the completion of the Praya a suitable position for the statue was selected. In 1891, shortly after its completion it was exhibited in Horse Guards in London and at the time was much admired with the sculptor receiving a great deal of praise for his work.  The designer and sculptor, Mario Raggi was also the creator of the statue of Lord Beaconsfield in Parliament Square as well as another statue of Queen Victoria in Bombay and the equestrian statue of the Prince of Wales in Bombay.  In Hong Kong he is known as the designer and sculptor of Sir Arthur Kennedy’s statue in the Botanical Gardens.

 The statue was cast Messrs H. Young & Co., the celebrated art founders of Pimlico.  This firm had the reputation of casting the largest bronze figures ever cast in one piece and at one running viz., the huge “sphinxes” on the Thames Embankment.

 The completed statue was made in bronze and unveiled on the 28th May 1896 and was actually to commemorate the Jubilee of Queen Victoria of 1887[1].  According to newspaper reports[2]  “the predominant feeling with reference to the Queen’s statue is one of disappointment. We refer of course to the statue itself, and not to the ceremony attending the unveiling.  It was originally intended that the statue should be in Marble……..”2 6.  It seems it was a pure misunderstanding and not a deliberate error.  Signor Raggi tendered for the completion of a statue of Her Majesty the Queen in bronze or in marble for the sum of £5,500.  A public meeting in Hong Kong was called and it was decided that the statue should be in marble.  However, Signor Raggi undertook the project in the belief that a bronze statue was preferred and he set about preparing for the casting.  The error came to light in the first quarter of 1890.  Rather than incurring extra costs to re-cast in marble, it was decided to continue with the bronze statue. 

However, a small marble statue of Queen Victoria was created, it is thought by Raggi, and possibly as an item to adorn the home of one of the more wealthy residents of the island, as far as can be ascertained, it was not put on public display at all and therefore only one photograph of a marble statue of Queen Victoria exists.

The bronze statue was set upon a broad base of granite measuring 29 feet square, elevated about 7 feet above road level and reached by a flight of granite steps. The statue was enclosed in a richly carved stone canopy made of specially selected Portland stone, [from Dorset in the UK] the colour of which improved considerably with age and it also had the reputation of hardening by exposure to atmospheric influences.  Columns of the lower Corinthian order supported the canopy and the half of each shaft was exquisitely carved and decorated pillars supporting an ornately carved but withal chaste dome surmounted by the royal scepter which stands aloft .  Covered by the dome, stands the bronze image of Her Majesty in a sitting posture facing the harbour.  In her right hand, which was taken from an actual cast of the Queen’s hand, she holds the scepter while the orb and cross rest in her left hand.  This statue, along with all the others, was taken by the Japanese during the occupation of Hong Kong in the Second World War.  However it was returned to Hong Kong at the same time as the Hongkong & Shanghai Bank lions.  It was damaged and portions of the statue were missing.  Efforts were made to secure new parts before it was re-erected.


[1] Hongkong Telegraph 28 May 1896.

[2] Hongkong Daily Press 30th May 1896

Thanks for all the extra info

Notes from Paul 'Walk the talk':

as you all know is in Causeway Bay, in the war it was salvaged for scrap by the Japs. But escaped the foundary and was found on a scrap heap.

The restored sculpturewas relocated to Causeway Bay(why?)

In the run up to the handover a mainland artist , forget his name, in autumn 1996 climbed on top with a hammer and 2 buckets of red paint. With the paint he covered Vicky, with the hammer he realligned her nose. He then threatened to kill any statue restorer.

In the English press the letters were interesting many expats said scrap return it, many locals said  restore it fortunaly that opinion won

So the Urban Services Dept Conservation Section(&1 gallant RSD Conservator who lived locally volunteered his time) went to work

We (i was head of metal artefacts conservation then) first removed the paint, working flat out until late daily including in rain down pours. Fat Pang Patten sent regular faxes to us saying'are we nearly there yet?'

Then working with an engineering company HUD we straightened her nose

thats why if you go now she is surrounded by a jungle to impede any "£$%^ who tries it again

artist got a month as a guest of her majesty, I spent more than a month conserving it, but i got a letter of appreciation from the Civil Service,

He lost a scholarship to France, I saw him once he was at an exhibition opening at the Art Museum, i did not send the invites, someone said behind you, and there he was. Oh to have been an uncivil servent and poured my red wine over him!

A photograph at the Public Records Office is of the unveiling which took place on 28th May 1896. It appears that the postcard is in error.

The person who damaged the status is actually PAN Xinglei (潘星磊) from mainland China.

His blog (in simplified Chinese) has some entries describing this "activity":
http://blog.sina.com.cn/s/blog_4a8b2e60010005vg.html
http://blog.sina.com.cn/s/blog_4a8b2e60010005vh.html
http://blog.sina.com.cn/s/blog_4a8b2e60010005xk.html

A photograph of what happened on Sep. 16, 1996:
http://www.ionly.com.cn/nbo/auction/ZuoPin.aspx?id=72376
http://auction.artxun.com/paimai-326-1625522.shtml

According to the later web page, he graduated from the China Central Academy of Fine Arts in 1992, moved to Hong Kong in 1993 and to New York in 2000.  He founded Chinese Base (http://chinese-bases.com) in 2006.

By the way, who is Paul 'Walk the talk'?

China Mail September 17 1946

1946 Queen Victoria Statue

Thanks moddsey.  Wouldn't the "man in frock coat" statue be that of Sir Thomas Jackson?  Who is the founder of Young Company?

1947 Queen Victoria and Sir Thomas Jackson

http://www.gettyimages.com/detail/news-photo/statue-of-queen-victoria-da...

http://www.gettyimages.com/detail/news-photo/statue-of-sir-thomas-jackso...

The statues of Queen Victoria, Sir Thomas Jackson and the HSBC lions arrived in Hong Kong from Japan on October 1946 on the Fort Rosalie with the lions being placed in their original positions on 17 October 1946 and Jackson's statue a week thereafter. Source: China Mail 18 October 1946. (Note: Wikipedia's reference that Jackson's statue was not removed at all during WWII is incorrect).

 

Hong Kong Telegraph 12 March 1947

1947 Queen Victoria Statue et al

The Memorial Statue of Her Majesty The Queen, situated about the centre of the New Reclamation close to the Hong Kong Club, was erected in commemoration of the Jubilee year of Her Majesty's Reign (9th November 1887.) The unveiling of the monument took place on the 28th May, 1896 in the presence of a vast assemblage of residents representing manynationalities. His Excellency, Governor Sir William Robinson, assisted by the Members of Council, Representatives of Army and Navy and Heads of Departments, performed the ceremony, amidst the firing of a fue de joie, the playing of military bands, and a general show of rejoicing and acclamation from the people.

 

Source: The Tourist's Guide to Hong Kong, with short trips to the Mainland of China (1897) by HURLEY, R. C.

The statue of Queen Victoria was re-erected in Victoria Park on 17 August 1955.

The Queen's statue, HSBC lions and statue of Sir Thomas Jackson were returned to Hong Kong from Japan after the war in 1946.

The Queen's statue was found to be damaged, including the Crown and 3 ornamental motifs - the Royal Crest, the Lion and the Unicorn surmounting the back of the throne. In addition, the right arm and part of the Sceptre and portion of the Orb in the left hand had been broken off and the Shield panel on the left side of the Throne and a panel on the back of the Throne were also missing. Mr. Raoul Bigazzi was engaged to oversee the restoration work. China Mail 16 August 1955 refers.

Restoration was completed in 1952.

2006 Queen Victoria Statue - Raoul Bigazzi
2006 Queen Victoria Statue - Raoul Bigazzi, by Moddsey

I wonder if I have misunderstood something here? If have, please forgive my being a bit slow on the uptake and please correct me!

It would appear that the statue (and the cupola) stood originally on the site where the Cenotaph monument was later erected - I believe in 1923? Queen Victoria's statue, we are told, had been placed there nearly 30 years earlier.

If I am correct, could anyone tell me what happened to the statue (and cupola) between 1923 (or thereabouts) and 1944 - or whenever the statue was sent to Japan?

My thanks for sight of the newspaper article which states that the statue was found in an Armoury in Osaka. I was always led to believe that it was located in a rubbish dump. Hardly an appropriate place for the old lady to end up!

They were near to each other, but separate:

1920s Statue Square
1920s Statue Square, by Admin

Many thanks for the clarification.