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Key facts
Full title Trophy
Artist Probably by Edward Hodges Baily
Artist dates 1788 - 1867
Group Getty Entrance Sculptures
Date made 1826-32
Medium and support Portland stone
Acquisition credit Commissioned by the Office of Works for the Marble Arch, and installed on the Gallery by 1838
Inventory number H215
Location Gallery Exterior: Getty Entrance
Collection History Collection
Trophy
Probably by Edward Hodges Baily

This winged Victory, along with its pair, accompanies another figure of Victory on the façade above the National Gallery’s Getty Entrance. They, and five similar figures, are the work of the British neoclassical sculptor, Edward Hodges Baily. Both the winged figures clasp a palette and paintbrushes to symbolise the art of painting fostered inside the building, elements that were added to suit the statues’ new setting. When the Gallery’s current building was opened to the public by Queen Victoria on 9 April 1838, another artistic institution, the Royal Academy of Arts, occupied the east wing, behind these winged figures with their brushes and palettes. The Academy moved to its current home in Burlington House in 1868.

During the construction of the Trafalgar Square building, its architect, William Wilkins, was forced to use masonry and statuary recycled from other projects in a cost-cutting exercise imposed by the Government. This pair of winged female figures, and another pair without attributes, which all now adorn the Gallery’s façade, were originally commissioned by George IV either for Marble Arch or Buckingham Palace.

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Getty Entrance Sculptures

The National Gallery’s Getty Entrance is surmounted with a figure of Victory, framed by another full-length, draped female figure in each of the niches to left and right. This pair of flanking winged figures carry attributes to identify who they are: both clasping a palette and paintbrushes, they symbolise the art of painting fostered inside the building. All three statues are the work of the British neoclassical sculptor Edward Hodges Baily, although he made them not for the National Gallery but for the Marble Arch, a monument intended to celebrate Britain’s defeat of the French in the Napoleonic Wars. When the figures were repurposed to adorn the nation’s public art gallery in a cost-cutting exercise, their original military accoutrements of spear and shield were transformed into more appropriate brushes and palettes.