Standing high upon a white marble pedestal, a life-size bronze statue of William Shakespeare is the focal point of this iconic memorial, located opposite the State Library in Sydney. Surrounding him on lower plinths are a selection of his most famous characters: Romeo and Juliet, Othello, Portia and Falstaff.
The memorial was unveiled in 1926, created by Australian sculptor, Sir Edgar Bertram Mackennal, and commissioned by Henry Gullet (then President of the Shakespeare Society in NSW). Pen in hand, Shakespeare is depicted as an English gentleman and man of letters - intended to symbolise the greatness of the British Empire.
ICS was recently commissioned by the City of Sydney to carry out conservation and maintenance work to the Shakespeare Memorial. As an outdoor monument regularly exposed to the elements, various condition issues needed to be addressed. These included corrosion of the bronze sculptures, deterioration of their protective wax coating, and a build-up of bird droppings, cobwebs and other dirt/debris. Special precautions had to be implemented to access the memorial, as it is located on a traffic island in the middle of Shakespeare Place.
Scope of Works
- Cleaned bronze, removed old wax, applied localised corrosion treatment and protective coating
- Cleaned stone (marble) elements and reduced staining
- Repointing of stone base
- Repaired deteriorated or missing sealant joints
City of Sydney
Sculpture Conservation / Memorial Conservation
Shakespeare Figure (Detail)
Romeo & Juliet
Shakespeare Figure - Before Treatment (bird droppings visible on back of head)
Shakespeare Figure - During Treatment
Scaffolding erected for treatment