Collection Spotlight

Marble Portrait Busts of the Prince and Princess of Wales 

The Library of Parliament’s collection of decorative artworks includes several portrait busts. A pair of such works has been displayed inside the historic Library building since it opened its doors in 1876. They are the busts of Prince Albert Edward, the eldest son of Queen Victoria and the future King Edward VII, and his wife, Princess Alexandra of Denmark, who were the Prince and Princess of Wales.

Both marble busts were sculpted by English artist Marshall Wood in 1870. You might recognize this name because Marshall Wood also sculpted the Queen Victoria statue that is the iconic centrepiece of the Main Library.

After the House of Commons passed a resolution on April 13, 1871, the Joint Committee of the two Houses of Parliament for the Library purchased the pair of busts directly from Mr. Wood for 100 guineas each. As with the statue of Queen Victoria, the busts were first displayed in the Senate until the Library opened.

The Prince of Wales is depicted in his late twenties, in a full beard. A star of the Order of the Garter, pinned to his classical or Roman-style drapery, is partially visible. The Princess of Wales is also styled in classical dress, with her hair pinned back. Each bust is sculpted from a single block of white marble and sits atop a cylindrical marble socle.

Until recently, the busts were displayed along the northern wall of the Library, opposite the main entrance from the Hall of Honour. Because of their size, these works of art could not be safely moved for the closure of the Main Library. They remain in place, but are protected inside custom-built crates.

Details

  • The bust of the Prince of Wales measures 79.4 cm high, 56 cm wide and 32.5 cm deep.
  • The bust of the Princess of Wales measures 76 cm high, 49.5 cm wide and 28 cm deep.
  • Marshall Wood (circa 1834–1882) was born in Manchester, United Kingdom. He was a regular exhibitor at the Royal Academy from 1854 to the 1870s. He received much recognition for his statue of Daphne, which was shown at the 1862 International Exhibition held in London, United Kingdom. He travelled the world to promote his art and lived in Canada between 1871 and 1873.
Photograph of a side view of the bust of Alexandra, Princess of Wales, with the bust of Albert Edward, Prince of Wales, in the background
Side view of the bust of Alexandra, Princess of Wales, with the bust of Albert Edward, Prince of Wales, in the background
Photograph of a bust of Albert Edward, Prince of Wales, with a close-up view of the partial Star of the Order of the Garter detail
Bust of Albert Edward, Prince of Wales, with a close-up view of the partial Star of the Order of the Garter detail
Photograph of the bust of Alexandra, Princess of Wales
Bust of Alexandra, Princess of Wales