“For want of a Nail the Shoe was lost; for want of a Shoe the Horse was lost” Benjamin Franklin
London is not short of dramatic horse sculpture. From the rearing fury of Piccadilly’s Horses of Helios Fountain, to the tenacious bravery of Boadicea’s horses which pull her chariot, but Althea Wynne’s magnificent trio at Minster must be acknowledged as among the best of the best.
Althea created these site specific sculptures for Minster Court when it was built in the early 1990’s. A love of horses and an ability to translate their innate beauty in bronze made her the perfect choice for this commission. As a nod to the financial district they belong to, they are affectionately known as Sterling, Dollar and Yen.
Despite the January frost, our team at Antique Bronze, began work on the restoration of bronze statues by Althea Wynne: the spirited trio of horse sculptures in Minster Court, City of London. The aim of the works was to prevent the sentiment of Benjamin Franklin’s prophecy from coming true by intervening before all of the original patina, on these exceptional sculptures, had been lost entirely.
Conservation Work Was Necessary To Halt The Loss of Original Patina
Our knowledge and expertise in the area of bronze statue restoration made us a great fit for this project. We have worked with many artists to ensure their works survive long into the future including some of the Greats like Henry Moore, Barbara Hepworth and Wendy Taylor.
As well as liaising with the owner of a bronze, the preliminary stages of any bronze statue restoration should always involve contacting the artist and consulting with them. Sadly, in this case, this wasn’t possible as Althea Wynne died tragically in a car accident with her husband in 2012 while working on another equestrian commission for Windsor Great Park.
The project started out with conserving what patina we could and then progressed to treating areas of disfiguring corrosion. We were able to blend out areas where weathering had caused unsightly marks to form on the surface. Repatination work was necessary in areas where the original patina had failed and we used the surviving patina to match the colour as closely as possible.
Bronze Statue Restoration Often Involves The Treatment of Corrosion
The final stage of the works involved the application of a protective coating applied hot. This not only protects the surface of the bronze but also gave the statues a lustrous surface.
If you would like to learn more about bronze, consider joining our course, Bronze Behaving Badly, Principles of Bronze Conservation.