(b. 1817, Dorset, d. 1875, London)

Courage and Cowardice

Plaster, height 62 cm
Victoria and Albert Museum, London

One of the most spectacular proofs of the influence of Michelangelo in the nineteenth century is offered by the two allegorical groups of the Wellington Memorial in St Paul's Cathedral, London: Truth and Falsehood, and Courage and Cowardice. The monument, which was only completed in 1912, is designed along the lines of a Renaissance tomb as a triumphal arch shielding a recumbent figure and crowned by an equestrian statue. It is the work of Alfred Stevens, an artist gifted in many field, including poetry and music, who had spent nine years in Italy. The allegorical groups, situated on an intermediate level, refer to Michelangelo in the seated figures of the Virtues, recalling the Sibyls of the Sistine Chapel.