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The Albert Memorial

The Prince Consort National Memorial: its History, Contexts, and Conservation

Edited by Chris Brooks

View Inside Price: $50.00

September 10, 2000
456 pages, 6 1/8 x 13
112 b/w + 200 color illus.
ISBN: 9780300073119

Published in association with English Heritage and for the Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British

The Albert Memorial is one of the most famous British monuments, the product of a richly creative architectural period (the international Gothic Revival) and the masterpiece of a great architect, George Gilbert Scott. This lavishly illustrated book tells the history and the symbolism and gives an account of the recent restoration of this nineteenth-century monument.

Leading authorities in the field discuss the public life of Prince Albert and how he was depicted; Scott’s conception of the Memorial; its design, construction, sculpture, decoration, and symbolism; the Memorial’s setting in South Kensington; its history since first being built; and the massive restoration program of the 1990s. The Memorial’s design combined structural innovation with a brilliantly inventive handling of Gothic precedents. Its building and decoration brought together architecture, fine art, applied art, and craft in a way that exemplified the creative unity the Victorians found in the Gothic tradition. Its sculptural program, more ambitious than any other monument of the century, is the culmination of the public statuary in which mid-Victorian British sculptors led Europe. In commemorating Prince Albert, the Memorial exemplified the age, its material achievements, its cultural inheritance, and its intellectual and spiritual aspirations.

Chris Brooks teaches Victorian culture at the University of Exeter.

“Yet the edifice erected in his memory was ‘if anything, even more chequered by disapproval and lack of sympathy than the career of the man it commemorates—one of Britain’s least understood or appreciated monuments,’ says Chris Brooks, in the preface to the sumptuous Yale University Press volume.”—Geraint Smith, Evening Standard

“Chris Brook’s superb volume . . . is more than the record of a triumph for architectural conservation. . . . Alastair Glass’s remarkable account of the repair and conservation of the monument, toward the end of the volume, makes for fascinating reading, but the sheer complexity of the task, and the significance of the structure itself, are made vividly apparent only by the preceding sections of this revelatory book.”—Timothy Barringer, Journal of Society of Architectural Historians

“This definitive canvassing of the monument’s history, iconography, construction and critical reception also charts the changing image of the man it commemorates.”—Martin Filler, New York Times Book Review

“Fascinating. . . . The book details Albert’s importance, the Memorial’s development and construction, the artistic and structural importance of the object, and the difficulties of its repair. The Memorial has for a long time been ridiculed as an excessively flamboyant display. This book reestablishes its importance and integrates it in a study of Victorian artistic achievement.”—Richard Holder, The Victorian

“[An] excellent book.”—Asa Briggs, Times Higher Education Supplement

“The story of ‘The Prince Consort National Memorial,’ its rise, fall and reevaluation, is the subject of this splendid book, which is packed with charming period illustrations and fine color photographs. Leading authorities discuss the life of Prince Albert; the design, construction, decoration and symbolism of the monument; its history and its massive restoration in the 1990s.”—Victorian Decorating & Lifestyle

“A wonderful new book, The Albert Memorial, gives a richly illustrated account of the monument’s conception by George Gilbert Scott, its symbolism and the conservation techniques applied in the 1990s to restore its luster.”—Christopher Schoppa, Washington Post Book World

Named a New York Times Book Review Notable Book for 2000

Winner of the 2002 Historians of British Art Book Prize for the best multi-authored volume
The Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art
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