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Edinburgh, George Street, James Clerk Maxwell Statue

Statue (Period Unassigned)

Site Name Edinburgh, George Street, James Clerk Maxwell Statue

Classification Statue (Period Unassigned)

Alternative Name(s) St Andrew's Square

Canmore ID 306312

Site Number NT27SE 6082

NGR NT 25519 74092

Datum OSGB36 - NGR

Permalink http://canmore.org.uk/site/306312

Ordnance Survey licence number 100057073. All rights reserved.
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Administrative Areas

  • Council Edinburgh, City Of
  • Parish Edinburgh (Edinburgh, City Of)
  • Former Region Lothian
  • Former District City Of Edinburgh
  • Former County Midlothian

Activities

Project (1997)

The Public Monuments and Sculpture Association (http://www.pmsa.org.uk/) set up a National Recording Project in 1997 with the aim of making a survey of public monuments and sculpture in Britain ranging from medieval monuments to the most contemporary works. Information from the Edinburgh project was added to the RCAHMS database in October 2010 and again in 2012.

The PMSA (Public Monuments and Sculpture Association) Edinburgh Sculpture Project has been supported by Eastern Photocolour, Edinburgh College of Art, the Edinburgh World Heritage Trust, Historic Scotland, the Hope Scott Trust, The Old Edinburgh Club, the Pilgrim Trust, the RCAHMS, and the Scottish Archive Network.

Field Visit (6 April 2009)

Statue of James Clerk Maxwell sitting on a chair with his left leg crossed over his right. Maxwell is shown at the age of 48 in the costume of his time, and holding a colour-wheel in both hands. Beneath his legs lies a dog with its head up.

On the long sides of the pedestal are bas-reliefs showing Newton splitting light and Einstein demonstrating how light is governed and pulled by gravity: on the south side Newton is depicted conducting the "Experimentum Crucis", where a beam of light passes through a prism and splays into a rainbow on a board. Just the red light passes through the board, then through a second prism onto the ground. On the far left of the relief is Apollo firing the beam of light. Seated next to him is Newton holding an obelisk topped by a prism. Beside him a naked youth holds a board, beyond the youth a kneeling figure holds a second prism, and beyond this figure a seated male points at the ground. At the far right is Eos, "rosy-fingered Dawn", the goddess of red light, standing on a rising sun. Around her head are roses.

On the north side of the pedestal Apollo is at the far left, with an arrow in his chest. This has been fired by Eros (on the far right). Seated next to Apollo is Einstein, holding a model to demonstrate his theory. Pointing at this model is a seated male. To his right is a naked philosopher with a begging bowl, and beyond him is a seated soldier.

The statue and reliefs were modelled by Sandy Stoddart, the plaster-cast of the statue was made by Mike and Caroline Crofton, and the bronzes were cast at Black Isle Bronze in Nairn. The pedestal was built by David Lindsay and his team from Stoneworks, and the inscription was carved in Aberdeen from a cartoon designed by Stoddart's father Mr H. Cochrane Stoddart. The bronze plaque on the back of the pedestal was designed by Emma Quinn.

James Clerk Maxwell, 1831-1879. Born in Edinburgh, educated at Edinburgh Academy (where he was nick-named 'Dafty') and the universities of Edinburgh and Cambridge. Became professor of physics at Marischal College, Aberdeen, in 1856, then moved to King's College, London. In 1871 he became the first professor of experimental physics at Cambridge. In 1856 Maxwell became a Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh, and in 1859 he became a Fellow of the Royal Society in London.

Inscriptions : On front (west side) of pedestal (incised letters):

JAMES / CLERK MAXWELL / 1831-1879

On bronze plaque on back (east side) of pedestal (raised letters):

JAMES CLERK MAXWELL / FRS FRSE / 1831-1879 / MATHEMATICAL PHYSICIST / Unveiled on November 25th 2008 by The Presiding Officer of The Scottish Parliament, Alex Fergusson, MSP. / [Italic lettering] This monument was erected with the generous support of: / Fellows of the Royal Society of Edinburgh Standard Life David & Elaine Potter Charitable Foundation / EDINBURGH WORLD HERITAGE ROYAL SOCIETY UNIVERSITY OF EDINBURGH / ROYAL BANK OF SCOTLAND ROYAL SOCIETY OF EDINBURGH UNIVERSITY OF ABERDEEN / JAMES CLERK MAXWELL FOUNDATION INSTITUTE OF ELECTRICAL AND ELECTRONICS ENGINEERS KINGS COLLEGE, LONDON / DARWIN TRUST OF EDINBURGH INSTITUTE OF PHYSICS TRINITY COLLEGE, CAMBRIDGE / MICHAEL ATIYAH ROYAL SOCIETY OF CHEMISTRY CAVENDISH LABORATORY, CAMBRIDGE / IRWIN & JOAN JACOBS LONDON MATHEMATICAL SOCIETY HERIOT-WATT UNIVERSITY / JAMES & JEAN RAUTIO EDINBURGH MATHEMATICAL SOCIETY THE INSTITUTE OF MATHEMATICS AND ITS APPLICATIONS / Alexander Stoddart Paisley, 2008 Black Isle Bronze, founders, Nairn

Signatures : None Visible

Design period : 2006-2008

Year of unveiling : 2008

Unveiling details : Unveiled by Alex Fergusson, MSP on 25 November 2008

Information from Public Monuments and Sculpture Association (PMSA Work Ref : EDIN1502)

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