Colonial ''Equestrian Statues'' of India and their silent removal post independence - 02

In the Indian subcontinents, after the great war of rebellion of 1857  the British crown took over the control of the country. The new administration  wanted to maintain their Imperialistic  ambition and supremacy that resulted in the illegal expansion of  land on one side and erection  of many statues including many equestrian ones on the other.  Many of  the riders were the British administrators who got a name  for their administrative skills. 

After India's independence the princely states numbering more than 565 also joined the Union and, at that point of time, there were more than 100 equestrian statues at important cities where the British were were either active or had their presence felt.  In deed,  in Calcutta, once the capital and lynchpin  of the British empire there were a large number of statues and some were equestrian. These colonial statues were erected to honor the  dead statesmen who helped the imperial colonies  hold together from  the seat of power  here. In the later years post  independence, the colonial landscape of Calcutta dotted with statues of English statemen at busy places began to change.  

In the wake of  death of  George Floyd in the day light by the Minneapolis cops a few years ago  we witnessed the rage and revulsion among the people   under the banner ''Black Lives Matter.''  It led to the the  removal or desecration of many statues of men that had stood with pride on pedestals in public spaces for years.  Quite frustrated as they were the people with impunity  toppled  the statues  of slave traders such as Edward Colston in Bristol,  Leopold II in Antwerp, Ghent and Brussels, The built huge fortunes at the expense of blood, pain and death of lakhs of slaves. They did not spare  Christopher Columbus in Boston and  Confederate and pro slavery  heroes of US. The former was ungrateful to the native American Indians and the latter were for slavery and some of them ran lynch groups to terrorize the African American slaves. The statues of heroes of past era who had dubious credentials were dragged all along the street after toppling, 'trampled, insulted, desecrated and destroyed; they become the embodiment of the insults and injuries experienced.'

In Calcutta, during freedom struggle the colonial police force terrorized the natives and punished many patriots by foisting false cases on them. They ran a brutal police force in the name of democracy to silence the voice of people against the nasty British atrocities.   In WB, decade after independence  colonial statues were quietly removed from the public places and sent to the museum without any fuss. The Bengalis showed so much restraints  and were oblivious to the past colonial atrocities and exploitation.

In 1954, this prompted the famous US Ambassador to India Chester Bowles during 1951-53,  to express  his surprise at 'how Indonesia was busy removing all statues of Dutch colonial rulers whereas in India streets were still named after British Viceroys  “Even a statue of (John) Nicholson, who led the British against Indians during the ‘mutiny,’ still stands, sword in hand,” he wrote.

The death knell tolled for the unwanted English statues  when a Non-Congress - the Communist Party of India  party came to power in WB in 1969. It saw the removal of so many statues - about 37 in  Barrackpore from their plinths and pedestals'. Most of the colonial riders were sitting on the horse with straight back as if they were the masters of the entire subcontinent. 

Till New Delhi became the capital of the Empire in 1911-12,  the  two lines of equestrian statues on both sides of Kolkata’s Red Road connecting Writers’ Buildings, had a pride of place. When Delhi became the capital of British India, the statues began to lose their sheen. After independence,  shifting them to Belvedere was a huge undertaking.  The move was more of a change of political scenario over a long period of time than  that of  a question of fall from sublime to disgrace for the British statemen whose preoccupation was their official duty as part of the Imperial government. Bengalis did the job of removing the colonial statues with no semblance rage or anger, rather, they would've become frustrated over the matter of subjugation under a foreign rule, that insulted Bengalis and looted the country and the natural resources to the greatest extend.   

The plinths of George V, Lord Bentinck, Lord Canning, India’s first Vice Roy and   Lord Northbrook, were replaced with Indian leaders/patriots.   As for the statue of Lord Auckland, it was gifted to New Zealand.  The statue of Lord Curzon who got a bad rap after he divided Bengal into two units along the communal line was replaced by Sri Aurobindo.   The equestrian statue of Lord Ochterlony, was shifted to the inner part of Victoria Memorial.

Statue of Lord Hardinge, Kolkata:

Viscount Hardinge,

Photograph from the Vibart Collection, of the statue of Lord Hardinge and the Ochterlony monument in Calcutta taken by an unknown photographer about 1865. A view looking across the Maidan towards Chowringhee Road, Calcutta with J.H. Foley's equestrian statue of Viscount Hardinge (20 June 1858 – 2 August 1944) in the foreground.  He was a British diplomat and statesman who served as Viceroy and Governor-General of India from 1910 to 1916.. The monument to Sir David Ochterlony, the victor of the Anglo-Nepalese War of 1814-1816, now renamed the Shahid Minar, a monument to Indian martyrs.   His  tenure was a memorable one, and included the visit of King George V, and the Delhi Durbar of 1911, as well as the move of the capital from Calcutta to New Delhi, in 1911. Hardinge's efforts paid off in 1914 during the First World War. Because of his efforts, Indian troops fought along with the British in many war fronts, including Europe. 


Statue of Lord Canning, Kolkata: 

Lord canning 18th Cen.

Above image: Lord Canning, 1877, Town: Barrackpore, West Bengal.  Sculptor: John Henry/Brock Foley.  Canning in a smart manner put down the Indian rebellion of 1857. He was sympathetic to natives' problems and for the first time, he conceived a photographic study of native Indian people. This statue stands in the garden of the Police Training Centre in Barrackpore next to the grave of his wife. From 1856 till 1858, during the Indian Rebellion of 1857, he carried on the affairs of he government wisely despite enormous difficulties arising at the close of such a war,


Statue of Lord Mayo, Kolkata: 

Lord Mayo - Barrackpore ,West Bengal.

Above image : Lord Mayo: This  equestrian statue of  Barrackpore, was one of the statues in the garden of Flagstaff House.   Sculptor: Native  of England Thomas Thornycroft (1815 – 1885) was an English sculptor and engineer and had  spent four years as an assistant to the sculptor John Francis.  He worked in the studio of  John Francis (as did the sculptor of the statue of Queen Victoria in Bombay).  
Statue of  James Outram:

James Outram, Kolkata

Above image:  James Outram, year of creation:1861(1803 –1863) was an English general who fought in the Indian Rebellion of 1857. Because of his well handling of the war  his grave in Westminster Abbey bears the epitaph ‘The Bayard of India’, after the 16th century French soldier Pierre Terrail, Seigneur de Bayard.  Sculptor: John Henry Foley.


 King Edward VII in Toronto. (Shifted from Delhi, India) :

The statue of king Edward V in Queen's Park, Toronto.

Above image : British  India Equestrian statue of king Edward VII in Toronto - gifted by India in 1969.  It is in Queen's Park, Toronto. You may see the king   in full military regalia  riding  his horse, Kildare. The  sculptor was Sir Thomas Brock,  who did Queen Victoria’s memorial at Buckingham Palace.. Set atop the horse with straight back, the king's balding head is noticeable. A surprising fact is he does not have a headgear befitting his military dress.  He served as the King of the United Kingdom  for a brief period of about 10 years. A weird fact is  there is a long history of the horse’s testicles being painted in  different colors every year by University of  Toronto students perhaps to  keep your eyes open for a motley  of color in the park. It is likely, it may be a subtler expression of English king's  interest in voluptuous women.   The 15-foot bronze equestrian statue  was originally there  in 1922 to commemorate King Edward VII’s historic role as the Emperor of India.  In 1969 this 5 ton bronze statue headed Toronto, 12000 km away from India. One Harry R. Jackman, a wealthy Canadian insurance executive, put an end to the confusion and bore the  shipping costs.

Edward VII  Mumbai.

Above image: Statue of British king Edward VII (1841- 1910)Mumbai, Maharashtra; year of creation:1878. he faced political isolation in his country because of his personification of fashionable life  with ladies of the  elite society. His reputation as a playboy prince soured his relationship with his mother.  His royal duties were more of ceremonial in nature. Sculptor: Joseph Edgar Boehm.  Edward VII has more equestrian statues outside the UK than within it: two in India and Australia, one in France and one in Canada. The statue is in the local zoo, not a worthy place for a king who on a visit to India was not happy with the British officials treated the native Indian population. While in India he said, ‘Because a man has a black face and a different religion from our own, there is no reason why he should be treated as a brute.


Sir Harcourt Butler. Lucknow, UP:

equestrian bronze  statue Harcourt Butler Alamy. com

 equestrian bronze  statue Harcourt Butler

equestrian bronze  statue Harcourt Butler

Above image:  Big equestrian bronze  statue in original of Sir Harcourt Butler. location: Qaiserbagh, Lucknow, UP. Now it is in the State Museum of  Lucknow, minus its original pedestal. Ready to be shipped to Lucknow to be  mounted in the city.  Harcourt Butler served as  the Lieutenant Governor and Governor in UP from 1918 to 1921. The artist was  Mr. George Harvard Thomas  and the statue was executed by the well known London founder, Mr E J Parlanti, at whose works this photo was taken;  8 September 1925. photo by Robert Freidus  As an administrator he gave importance to technical education in India The Harcourt, secondary school in Delhi and the Butler institute in Kanpur bear his name. He was also instrumental in building a branch of Harcourt Butler sr, sec, school in the hill resort of Shimla, HM..................

Mark Cubbon, Bangalore: 

Equestrian statue. Mark Cubbon, Bangalore 1932 picture.

Mark Cubbon

Above image; The equestrian statue of Mark Cubbon (1866),  Bangalore city of Karnataka  (1866) who was the  the longest-serving Chief Commissioner of Mysore and Coorg.  He moved the capital from Mysore to Bangalore and introduced special  reforms to improve  the finances of Mysore, and made it revenue surplus. he became an effective  administrator of Bengaluru city and opposed the idea of merging Mysore with Madras Presidency. The statue of Cubbon  was until recently  before the Karnataka High court within the complex- the Attara Katcheri.  To beef up security around the court,  the statue was moved to Cubbon Park, officially Sri Chamarajendra Park, in June 2020. Sculptor: Italian born Carlo Marochetti  (1805–1867), one of the prolific equestrian statue makers; he created as many as 7  equestrian statues of exceptional quality. if you take a closer look you may get the feeling that the rider and the horse are on the move.........

Statue of Thomas Monroe, Chennai:

Memorial Sir.Thomas Munro, St. Mary's Church,

Thomas Munro 
equestrian statue with no stirrups.

Above image:  Sir Thomas Monroe, a reputed  (27 May 1761- 6 July 1827) Scottish army man and colonial administrator  was popular among the natives.  In the area of administration, Thomas Monroe 's outstanding contribution stands apart and it was he who introduced  the division of districts and talukas headed by a District Collector who was  vested with  several administrative and judicial powers.  The District Collectors had the advantage of interacting with the natives there  and dispose of  the pending cases quickly and effectively with out having to depend on higher officials in Madras. This way he  supported the participation of  natives in the administration of India. 

About the equestrian statue  erected at The Island, Chennai in 1839 atop a granite plinth made by Ostheider & Co of Calcutta,  the cost   - a total of  £8000, was collected through  public subscription. The British sculptor  was Francis Chantrey (April 1781- November 1841). Chantrey completed the  stunning  and impressive  equestrian statue in 1834  - one of the three equestrian statues sculpted by him.  The statue, weighing six tones, was shipped to India in three parts and erected at the present place.  On 23 October 1839 the statue was ceremonially opened as part of a public commemoration in appreciation of his integrity and honesty in his line of duty. According some sources, Duke of Wellington, on seeing the completed statue, had exclaimed, 'A very fine horse; a very fine statue, and a very extraordinary man.' This statue has a pride place in the city of Chennai and as per the wish of the natives, this wonderful statue of a great English man is very much there.