This monument in London is more than just a memorial to a dead ruler. It can be considered the great symbol of an entire era, that of British Empire that spread throughout the planet.
This is a construction created between 1863 and 1876 in which various artists took part, beginning with the architect Sir George Gilbert Scott and continuing with a large group of sculptors among the featuring John Henry Foley or Henry Hugh Armstead. Between all of them they conceived a great tabernacle that can be considered one of the maximum expressions of the Victorian style.
Prince Albert Memorial
This style is unique and exclusive to Great Britain, in fact it is regarded as something like the British national style, despite that aesthetically drinks from different influences. For example, the forms of the pavilion undoubtedly remind us of Italian and classical art, although the medieval air of the whole is undeniable. While the mosaics and marbles of different colors are an influx of Italian art from the late Middle Ages.
And that's just the beginning, because then you have to see the rich sculptural decoration, at times lavish and full of allegories with which you want to pay tribute to Prince Albert, but especially to that time of great imperial power.
For example,At the base there are four allegories with separate marble groups representing Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Science, economic pillars of the kingdom. And uniting these groups is a long frieze with the representation of hundreds of characters from the arts, letters and music from the most varied periods and origins. This part would be almost all the work of Armstead (1828 – 1905).
Prince Albert Sculpture
Instead the upper part is mainly the creation of Foley (1818 – 1874), who designed the colossal sculpture of the prince under that peculiar building and surrounded it again with four other marble allegories. In this case to represent the continents through which the domains of the empire extended. That is to say, there we can see an elephant, a camel or a bison that are the representation of Asia, Africa and America, respectively.
The best thing about the work is surely that despite the different hands and artists who worked on it, a great formal unity is appreciated. All are subject to rules that were considered academic at the time. Something that, on the one hand, detracts from the emotionality of the work, although it is very illuminating of the mentality of the time and the spirit of praise that inspired this monument, for which there should be no room for eccentricities and only honor the Empire.