January 2013

The statue in the middle of Grand Square of King George II has been was wrapped with an insulating layer to protect its delicate surface during the winter months.

The king normally wears the military clothes of a Roman Emperor and holds a sceptre and orb. It was sculpted by Michael Rysbrack in 1735 and is made of a single piece of marble weighing 11 tons. The block of marble was captured from the French during a naval battle from the French and it was said to have been intended for a statue of Louis XIV.

Due to the exposed location of the statue, today much of the extremely fragile surface displays signs of erosion which is produced by weathering and frost damage. The exposed areas of stone, where precipitation is allowed to run off, is worn smooth and undercut sections are covered in a black crust of deposited air pollutants such as dirt and soot particles. The most obvious damage can be seen on George II’s hand of which two outside fingers are missing and the remaining area is weak.

Sadly, during the time of the Royal Naval College, students also painted the face of the statue as a prank. In order to remove the paint, harsh chemicals were used which have greatly eroded the sculpture, in particular George's face, so today it needs extra protection against the weather.

The statue will be wrapped in it's insulation until the end of March.

George II still recognisable wearing a crown © Richard Rogers Conservation Ltd
George II still recognisable wearing a crown © Richard Rogers Conservation Ltd

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