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Probably by Edward Hodges Baily, 'Victory', 1826-32

Key facts
Full title Victory
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 H214
Location Gallery Exterior: Getty Entrance
Collection Contextual Collection
Probably by Edward Hodges Baily

This Victory, along with the winged Victories to its left and right, is the work of the British neoclassical sculptor, Edward Hodges Baily. Together with another five female figures, they adorn the façade of the National Gallery.

In 1826, Baily received a large order for sculpture, including four statues of ‘Victories’, for Marble Arch, which was to be erected in celebration of Britain’s defeat of the French in the Napoleonic Wars. Although Baily completed his commission, not all of his work was used as originally intended; some parts ended up adorning other government buildings. During the construction of the National Gallery, its architect, William Wilkins, was forced in a cost-cutting exercise to recycle masonry and statuary from other projects. This explains the presence above the Getty Entrance of this statue personifying Victory, accompanied by two winged figures, even though all three pieces were initially created for the Marble Arch commission.

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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.