Statue of James II, Trafalgar Square

London, United Kingdom

Statue of James II, Trafalgar Square

The statue of James II is a bronze sculpture located in the front garden of the National Gallery in Trafalgar Square, London, United Kingdom. Probably inspired by French statues of the same period, it depicts James II of England as a Roman emperor, wearing Roman armour and a laurel wreath (traditionally awarded to a victorious Roman commander). It originally also depicted him holding a baton. It was produced by the workshop of Grinling Gibbons. The execution was most likely, according to contemporary accounts, the work of the Flemish sculptors Peter van Dievoet and Laurens van der Meulen, rather than of Gibbons himself. The statue has been relocated several times since it was first erected in the grounds of the old Palace of Whitehall in 1686, only two years before James II was deposed.

The statue is executed in bronze and depicts James II as a Roman emperor. He is shown standing in a contrapposto pose and pointing downwards in "great ease of attitude and a certain serenity of air", as Allan Cunningham described it. It formerly held a baton in its right hand, though this is now missing. The face is said to be an excellent depiction of the king. Unusually for the time, the sculptor sought a degree of fidelity to original classical styles; James is depicted wearing a laurel wreath on top of short hair, whereas other imperial-style statues of both Charles II and James II depicted the two kings with an anachronistic combination of Roman armour and a 17th-century periwig.

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