Scotland's Flags

Monuments and Memorials
Robert Burns
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Glasgow Statue, George Square

I would welcome a better digital image of this statue.

Glasgow Statue

Glasgow lagged far behind Edinburgh in erecting a statue to Burns, although it must be conceded that Glasgow has, in the long run, accorded greater and more public honour to the bard, whose statue is such a prominent feature of George Square to this day.

Agitation for a statue of Burns began in 1872 as the 'result of an article in the Evening Citizen of 6th June, following the unveiling of a statue to Thomas Graham, the Glasgow-born scientist.

The writer hinted that so long as Burns, Thomas Campbell and Adam Smith were without suitable commemoration in Glasgow, it could not be said that subjects were wanting, worthy of illustration in bronze of marble.

John Browne, a commercial traveller and Burns enthusiast, responded immediately by starting a shilling subscription sheet which he took to the editor of the Citizen. The paper then gave the fund full publicity and in the space of a year some 1,680 was raised.

The cost of a bronze statue and granite pedestal was estimated at 2,000 so George Edwin Ewing (1828-84) was commissioned to model a full-length figure of the poet. Ewing, a native of Birmingham who later settled in New York, spent the middle part of his career in Glasgow and was eminently qualified to execute the commission.

Ewing's figure was cast in bronze at a Thames Ditton foundry in October 1876 and stood nine feet tall. No fewer than 30,000 people crowded into George Square on 25th January 1877 to watch the unveiling ceremony. Ewing's concept of Burns was quite original, and on that score alone it was subjected to a great deal of adverse criticism at the time.

The poet is shown in pensive mood, with a daisy in his left hand and a Kilmarnock bonnet in his right. He was dressed in the costume of a Scottish farmer, in loose coat, knee breeches, stockings and buckled shoes. The figure, if somewhat heavy, is graceful in outline and the drapery has been treated in an effective and free manner.

George Ewing also designed the massive pedestal of Aberdeen granite, and about the turn of the century this was embellished with a series of three bas-relief panels in bronze, sculpted by Ewing's younger brother James (1843-1900). These depicted scenes from the 'Cotter', 'Tarn o Shanter' and The Vision'. Plaster maquettes for these panels may also be seen in the Birthplace Museum.

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