Why the Statue of King George III is an important part of London’s heritage
Somerset House, is a neoclassical palace in London from the eighteenth-century and they offer free guided tours every month, thus there are a great many interesting things to be seen in this once royal palace.
As you arrive from The Strand you see a statue of King George III guarding the courtyard and he has been there since 1789 after commissioning the rebuilding of Somerset Place. This fabulous statue was completed by John Bacon the Elder before he was elected as an associate of the Royal Academy which was then based here in Somerset House for its original home.
Awash with nautical allusions, King George III is with a rudder, an antique prow, the river god has a cornucopia representing the Thames and the king is dressed for the occasion.
King George III (1760-1821) is here with Father Thames for ever more now they are immortalised in bronze, just in front of the fountains. This was all commissioned to the Royal Academy in recognition of King George’s generosity: he decided to keep the RA at Somerset House!
Thankfully the pedestal used as a public urinal was removed in 1922 for obvious reasons! The lower figure is Father Thames with a water jar and cornucopia. There is a lion resting by the feet of the King and in front is Old Father Thames who allegorically represents the River Thames.
Many more references to the sea can be seen with nautical sculptures on the facade of Somerset House. There are mythical sea creatures, mascarons of sea gods and nautical ornaments and most of these were by designed by Florentine artist Cipriani who moved to London permanently and painted the ceiling of Buckingham Palace as well.
Henry VIII died in 1547 and Edward was too young to rule the country so his uncle Seymour became his advisor, granting himself a Dukedom and giving himself a lavish palace to go with it!
Edward Seymour was the Duke of Somerset and the original palace by the River Thames belonged to him. It was one of many palaces trying to outdo the neighbours along the Thames.
Somerset Place was built in the Renaissance style but Seymour never managed to enjoy it to its full glory because he was executed in the Tower in 1552. Falling into the hand of the crown Elizabeth I used the building for visiting dignitaries and when Anne of Denmark lived there she renamed the place Denmark House.
The building we see today is the eighteenth-century replacement that was rebuilt for government use: a grand edifice with monumental wings and the huge arches allowed boats to dock right inside. Guided tours today show film of barges and how they used to bring people from larger vessels on the Thames right in to Somerset House which in those days was actually on the river banks before the Victoria Embankment was built.
Sir William Chambers designed Somerset House in the then popular European style of a large central square with no trees. Nowadays, it is the Edmond J Safra Fountain Court because Safra donated the fountains with 55 openings that are combined with fiber optic lighting and music to great effect.
Above all, the highlight today of Somerset House must be the Courtauld Gallery showing original artwork by Botticelli, van Gogh, Rubens, Cezanne, Brueghel, Goya and many more.
In summary, Samuel Courtauld was an English industrialist who set up an institute for art in 1931 and bequeathed his collection to them, thus the Courtauld Institute is the creme de la creme for art history scholarship probably now anywhere in the world.
“Methought I heard a voice cry ‘sleep no more! Macbeth does murder sleep’ the innocent sleep, sleep that knits up the ravelled sleave of care.” This infamous quote is from the second scene of Act 2 in, “The Tragedy of Macbeth” by William Shakespeare and it was written around 1605. Thus, Macbeth is a play that is set mostly in the dark, partly to reflect a sleeping state of emotional blackout.
After murdering King Duncan in his sleep, Macbeth fears he will never be able to sleep again. Sleep is a necessity of life; something which makes life worth living and a good nights sleep often clears the air, unraveling all of our problems. Macbeth himself is able to sleep to begin with in the play (reflecting his clear conscience) but later, he suffers from insomnia due to paranoia. Unfortunately, with treason being a crime so heinous, Macbeth has now murdered sleep itself; thus, Macbeth is so unnerved he cannot move and he simply stares at his bloody hands. Never again will Macbeth be able to rely on sleep for revitalization!
Sleeplessness is a theme in Shakespeare’s “Macbeth” thus, distress and a guilty conscience means Lady Macbeth is unable to sleep. She falls into a sleeplessness and agitated state when she realizes she is partly responsible for the death of Duncan, Lady Macduff and Banquo. Lady Macbeth is thought to commit suicide at the end and this represents the opposite to sleeplessness, hence permanent sleep is something from which she will never awaken and insomnia turns Lady Macbeth delirious ending with permanent sleep and death.
Sleepwalking is a theme in the play. Act 5 Scene 1 is the last (on stage appearance) of Lady Macbeth and she rubs her hands as if to wash away her guilt, recalling three murders. Lady Macbeth cannot rid herself of a guilty conscience and this infamous scene, is written in prose not verse because she is no longer of sound mind; more like a zombie, it seems like the lights are on but no one is home!
Judi Dench completed Lady Macbeth’s transition from cold hearted bitch to guilt stricken lunatic, perfectly in 1976 at The Other Place in Stratford-upon-Avon. She performed the legendary sleepwalking scene without blinking, then let out a chilling scream as she glimpsed hell. This sleepwalking scene is completely Shakespeare’s own invention, where Lady Macbeth confesses her sins to the doctor and gentlewoman present, thus she is clearly disturbed and about to commit suicide.
Scotland is clearly a theme in the play. Good King Duncan represents peace with sleep and he is sleeping comfortably as a guest of the Macbeths before sadly sleeping forever, once he has been murdered. Perturbed sleep alludes in the play to a troubled Scotland in chaos under Macbeth’s rule – essentially a nightmare! Malcolm returns sleep and peace to Scotland at the end, thankfully and good wins over evil, when Malcolm defeats Macbeth.
In summary, William Shakespeare probably uses murdered sleep to represent the deranged state ofMacbeth and his wife, spiraling downwards with no way out. They are unable to move forward anymore. As most people can resolve their problems and sleep soundly, the Macbeths meet tragic ends, and “sleep no more!”