A soapy opera stage

The equestrian statue of Prince William, Duke of Cumberland, third son of King George II, was erected in 1770 in Cavendish Square and appeared controversial since its arrival.

The statue was presenting its rear to those who entered the square (not a good start), looked towards Scotland, where the Duke had been nicknamed ‘Butcher of Culloden’ as he mercilessly crashed the Jacobite uprising in 1746, and was ridiculed by many on purely aesthetic grounds.

Lacking lovers and admirers, it fell into dilapidation and in 1868 taken down to be recast. Eventually this never happened and just its Portland stone plinth survived.

In 2012 a replica of the lost statue was mounted on the plinth, made of soap on a steel armature by the Korean artist Meekyoung Shin as Written in Soap: A Plinth Project.

She anticipated its gradual and scented erosion within a year, but its tenure was extended, her commentary on mutable monumentality complicated by endurance and popularity. An identical replica was installed at the National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art in Gwacheon, South Korea, in July 2013.


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