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Great Canadian Heritage Discoveries
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More key items the Museum has added to its collections in its ongoing efforts to preserve important Canadian heritage memorabilia from this period.

Giant Parian Busts - 1863 - Parian 5

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Few memorabilia items can match the stunning impact of the huge parian busts that were the pride of upper class parlours in Victorian Britain and Canada. Today busts like these below can be found occupying places of honour in the parliamentary libraries in Ottawa and in Province House, in Halifax, Nova Scotia.
Great Canadian Heritage Treasure
Parian Bust, Princess Alexandra, 1863
Orig. parian marble - Size - 41 cm
Found - Houston, TX
Copeland, Signed Mary Thornycroft, Sculptor, Art Union of London, 1863
One of the finest Copeland busts ever produced, of Princess Alexandra, was executed in 1863, for her wedding, by renowned sculptor Mary Thornycroft.

A Danish princess, with Danish and German parents, Alexandra brought fresh blood - as well as extraordinary beauty - into a gene pool bred of a small group of homely Angles, Picts, and Scots - with the odd Norman thrown in... or is that jumping in?

Unfortunately, some of her German blood seems to have spawned a lamentable regressive gene in Prince Harry, who was recently photographed at a private party wearing a Nazi uniform.

But he has apparently promised not to wear his family's "hand-me-downs" anymore... It seems he got into one of the Duke of Windsor's old closets... Or was it Prince Phillip's? Or Charles...? So many family members in the closet... It's all so confusing.

Great Canadian Heritage Treasure
Parian Bust, Prince Albert Edward, 1864
Orig. parian marble - Size - 37 cm
Found - Houston, TX
Signed - Morton Edwards SC
C. Delpech, (Redt)
Art Union of London, 1864
Prince Albert Edward, crafted by esteemed French Victorian sculptor Pierre-Charles-Eugène Delpech. This is how he looked when he visited Canada in 1860, and opened the Victoria Bridge in Montreal.

The wedding of Queen Victoria's son and his imported wife, took place only two years after her own beloved Albert had died. Victoria blamed her son's wild carousing lifestyle, with other men's wives, for having brought on her husband's death from anxiety suffered from his inability to control his son's notorious behaviour that was tarnishing the reputation of the Royal Family. Victoria never forgave her son and it would be years before she would even speak with him.

The public got wind of this and Alexandra became the favourite; Albert Edward would not gain the public's affection till the last few years of his life.

Mary Thornycroft left (1814-1895) was a famous, and highly successful, sculptor, one of the few women to receive recognition for her talent in Victorian England. She married another sculptor Thomas Thornycroft in 1840. Their daughter, Theresa, had a son, Sigfried Sassoon, who became a famous World War I poet.
Beloved Queens: Two women who presided over the British Empire during the Victorian (1837-1901) and the Edwardian (1902-1910) Periods. Victoria ruled longer (64 years) than any other British monarch.

A favourite daughter-in-law was Princess Alexandra who married her son Prince Edward in 1863. She would be Princess of Wales for 39 years, before becoming Queen Alexandra in 1902.

Great Canadian Heritage Treasure
Parian Bust, Queen Victoria, 1887
Orig. parian marble - Size - 32 cm
Found - Toronto, ON
Signed Turner & Wood, Stoke, Sculptor RJM
An extremely fine parian of Queen Victoria, created to celebrate her Golden Jubilee, 50 years on the throne - in 1887. It is one of her "crownless" parians.
Great Canadian Heritage Treasure
Parian Bust, Prince Albert, c. 1855
Orig. parian marble - Size - 36 cm
Found - Toronto, ON
Signed WH Kerr & Co., Worcester, EJ Jones Sculptor,
Provenance - John Russell Estate
A fabulous parian marble bust of Prince Albert, by the sculptor EJ Jones, that was executed only a short time before Albert died in 1861.
Great Canadian Heritage Treasure
Parian Bust, Princess Alexandra, 1863
Orig. parian marble - Size - 31 cm
Found - Toronto, ON
Signed WT Copeland, Stoke, Staffordshire, Pub'd Feb. 1 1863, Crystal Palace Art Union, Sculptor F. M. Miller
Pro
venance - John Russell Estate
One of the finest parians in existence, is this Copeland, also produced to celebrate Alexandra's engagement to Prince Albert Edward of Wales, in 1863, when she was 19. It is the earliest version of this bust, which shows her wearing earrings.
Great Canadian Heritage Treasure
Parian Bust, Queen Victoria, 1887
Orig. ceramic bust - Size - 37 cm
Found - Niagara Falls, ON
Signed "R&L, Jubilee 1887, Sculptor RJ Morris"
Probably the finest antique parian bust of Queen Victoria we have ever seen, is this large magnificent work executed by RJ Morris in 1887, to mark her 50th year on the throne.
Great Canadian Heritage Treasure
Parian Bust, Richard Cobden, 1865
Orig. parian marble - Size - 43 cm
Found - Simcoe, ON
Si
gned WF Wyon, Registered June 27, 1865
The Cobden-Kennedy Connection: Richard Cobden (1804-1865) was a highly influential early Victorian political reformer, and British Member of Parliament.

Like Gerard Kennedy in our day, he was that political rarity, a true independent grounded on conscience and principle, who refused to knuckle under to political choices dictated by the political party bagmen of the day. He also refused to climb aboard the popular band wagons of the "front runners," eschewing the certainty of personal rewards that would have showered upon him. He demanded the freedom of action to follow his conscience to back righteous "losing causes" so he could maintain his intellectual freedom of action to do what was right.

Cobden bucked the Government of the day - taking on the foremost parliamentary orator of the age, Prime Minister Sir Robert Peel - to push for an end to laws that restricted Free Trade between nations, believing that was the only way to avoid war between the Major Powers. His persuasive oratory in the House led the successful campaign to force Peel to abolish the restrictive Corn Laws in 1846.

Cobden, was a man of principle who opposed the popular Crimean War and was turfed out of his seat by a jingoistic populace. Later he was re-elected but refused to take a cabinet post on principle. In fact he was so dedicated in promoting "right causes" he neglected his business and became bankrupt; he was only saved from old-age poverty by a fund raised by friends from public donations.

Democracy - in Canada and elsewhere - only works because of high-minded and deeply committed free spirits like Richard Cobden, Gerard Kennedy, Martha Hall Findlay, and Stéphane Dion, not the "flown-in" anointed puppets - like Michael Ignatieff and Bob Rae - who, in the twilight of their careers, allow themselves to be propped up by corrupt back-room political bagmen and their servile cronies.

British Celebrities: Immigrants often brought mementoes of their life in Britain to their new homes in Canada, items that were portable and reminded them of heroes they had to leave behind on the "ould sod."

Here are two such busts that came from an old estate in Simcoe, Ontario and date from the 1860s.

Great Canadian Heritage Treasure
Parian Bust, James Watt, 1857
Orig. parian marble - Size - 34 cm
Found - Simcoe, ON
Signed Copeland, W Theed 1857
One of the earliest dated parian we have seen - the parian process was only invented in the 1840s - is this large and marvellous statue of "Watt" sculpted by W Theed in 1857. It may be rare indeed as it is not illustrated or clearly documented in the parian bible, Paul Atterbury's Parian Phenomenon.

James Watt (1736-1819) was a Scottish inventor popularly associated with the invention of the steam engine because antique prints often showed a young Watt gazing whimsically at a kettle jetting off steam in a fireplace. Totally apocryphal of course; invented, like so much else, by the press. Watt, in fact, took the steam engine of the day and simply improved it - albeit enormously - so it was more efficient and more useful in a wide variety of industrial applications.

His chief improvement was taking the 50 year old Newcomen steam engine and developing a separate condenser system for it, improving it immensely. He had seen that it wasted over 80% of its efficiency through heat loss to the cylinder, in which steam expanded to produce power through pressure on the piston.

Watt was an engineer with a talent for working with his hands, and an ability for measuring machine parts with exquisite precision - celebrated in the statue above. So he was able to patent a wide variety of other mechanical devices and engines.

Alexander Mackenzie 1822-1892

A rare, huge, and also an early parian bust, dating from the 1870s, is this prized possession of the Parliamentary Library in Province House, Nova Scotia.

It sits today beside two wonderful statues of Sir John A Macdonald and Sir Charles Tupper, both by Canada's finest sculptor, Philippe Hébert, and dating from the 1880s.

(Similar ones can be found in the Canadian Anglo-Boer War Museum by searching for Hébert)

Alexander Mackenzie was Canada's first Liberal Prime Minister, from 1873-1878, replacing a disgraced Conservative Sir John A Macdonald who was mired down in scandal with business cronies.

Alexander created the Office of the Auditor-General to watch out for illegal or inappropriate looting of government funds by civil servants, so founding a department which, a century later, is more active than ever rooting out creeps in the government service, all too many of whom spend more time trying to find new ways to plunder the public purse, for themselves, or their business cronies, than working honestly and diligently for the taxpayers who pay their salaries.

He also introduced the Secret Ballot, and founded the Supreme Court of Canada, as well as the Royal Military College at Kingston, Ontario.

He lost the next election but remained as Leader of the Opposition until 1880, making way for fellow Liberal Edward Blake, though staying on as an MP till 1892.

A truly noble and salt of the earth Scot, he refused the customary Knighthood given to Victorian Canadian Prime Ministers, preferring to remain solidly grounded as Alexander.

A truly Great Canadian who set a high bar for integrity and selfless public service which few have matched since.


c Goldi Productions Ltd. 1996 & 2000