This is the seventh volume of The Public Sculpture of Britain, a series intended to cover eventually the whole of the country and produced by the Public Monuments and Sculpture Association. The City of London, by the end of the seventeenth century, was already by far the most important centre of trade and finance in the world. This financial and commercial supremacy was also reflected in some of the most impressive architecture and public sculpture of the last 300 years. The Monument of 1671-6, commemorating the Great Fire of 1666, is still the largest column ever erected in Britain and historically so famous that it needs no other words to identify it. The City owed its success in large part to the care that it bestowed on foreign finance and financiers and therefore it is appropriate that, while Francis Chantrey's ceremonial equestrian statue of the Duke of Wellington stands in front of the Royal Exchange, behind that great building can be found a fountain with a tender but still heroic nursing mother modelled by Jules Dalou. The Institute of Chartered Accountants building is well known for its friezes uniting architecture and sculpture in the best tradition of the New Sculpture.
The most important sculptures at the Bank of England are Charles Wheeler's great figures and decorative programme of the 1920s and 1930s. Even later it was probably only in an area as wealthy as the City of London that a private developer could commission public sculpture on the scale achieved at the Broadgate Centre during the economic boom of the late 1980s. The Public Sculpture of Britain series is profusely illustrated and catalogues in great detail sculpture in Britain available to the public. It is the published outcome of the National Recording Project of the Public Monuments and Sculpture Association, and it will eventually cover the whole of Britain. Earlier volumes in the series covered Liverpool, Birmingham, North-East England, and Leicestershire & Rutland.
Philip Ward-Jackson was the Conway Librarian at the Courtauld Institute and is author of Public Sculpture of the City of London, 2003 (Liverpool University Press).