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Statue of Sarah Siddons

Restoration of the Sarah Siddons statue

Sarah Siddons (d. 1831) was the most famous tragedienne of the 18th century. She was born in 1755 and began as a lady's maid in Warwickshire, married aged 18 and had 7 children. Her first performance was in 1774, when she was noticed by David Garrick. Between 1782 and her retirement in 1812 she dominated the London theatre scene. She was an acting sensation - playing Lady Macbeth, audiences swooned and had to be carried out of the theatre. Expressive and brilliant, she seemed 'to burn with a fire beyond the human'. Public interest was phenomenal - the Duke of Wellington attended her receptions and ‘carriages were drawn up before her door nearly all day long’. She died in 1831 in London and was buried in St Mary's cemetery at Paddington Green. Over 5,000 people attended her funeral. This statue, by French sculptor Léon-Joseph Chavalliaud, was unveiled in 1897 and based on a portrait by Sir Joshua Reynolds as ‘The Tragic Muse’.

The statue was vandalised in 2011, leaving her face badly damaged and her left foot fractured. Historic repairs made in polyester resin have discoloured and failed. HOLT’s grant funded the restoration, removing the sulphate crust and the lichen and growth on the surfaces of the statue. All missing and damaged features to the face and head were repaired with new marble sections to match and larger areas of damage, such as the blade of the dagger, spall to the right arm and hair of the mask were reinstated with carved marble indents. The discoloured polyester resin repairs were removed and reinstated in a stable light-fast resin with crushed stone dust mixed to match the colour and texture of the weathered marble. The big toe to the left foot was removed and reset to its original alignment using carbon fibre micro dowels. The restoration of this statue aims to increase interest in both this underused park and the remarkable achievements of Sarah Siddons.

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