Edgar Bertram Mackennal
(Melway ref. 1B V8)
Born in Fitzroy in 1863, Edgar Bertram Mackennal studied art in Melbourne before travelling to Europe and settling in Shropshire. He was commissioned to create several statues around Melbourne, including those of Sir William John Clarke and King Edward VII. Mackennal's bust of Clarke rests on a marble pedestal. Below the bust a woman is depicted offering a wreath (representing the State of Victoria) and a young man is depicted holding a scroll (representing education).
William John Clarke was born in Tasmania in 1831 and moved to Victoria in 1860. A philanthropist and wealthy pastoralist, he gave generously to the building funds for St Paul's Cathedral and Trinity College, and supported several other causes. He was actively involved in many areas of public life and was the first Australian to be made baronet. He died in 1897, stepping from a tramcar in Collins Street.
Following Clarke's death, a public meeting was held to determine how best to memorialise him. The monument, it was thought, must be 'of heroic size' and yet in keeping with Clarke's modesty. Mackennal sculpted the marble in London in consultation with Clarke's son-in-law and with the final approval of Lady Janet Clarke.