Sculptor Hamo Thornycroft; founder J. Moore
Limestone, Harcourt granite and bronze memorial
Gordon Reserve, corner of Spring and Macarthur Streets
Born in London in 1850, Hamo Thornycroft came from a long line of sculptors. He was known for his imaginative and graceful designs and his considerable technical skill. He received many public commissions.
This bronze statue depicts General Charles George Gordon holding his cane and Bible. In heroic style, the general stands over a shattered cannon, presumably to symbolise his ultimate triumph over the trials and tribulations of military victory and defeat. Four bronze bas-reliefs feature on the limestone base, each depicting one of four key stages in Gordon's life: his victories in China, his charitable activities in Gravesend, his governorship in Sudan and his death in Khartoum. In part, the inscription reads: 'I have tried to do my duty/ This is the happy warrior - this is he that every man in arms should wish to be'.
Gordon, the 'Great Christian General', was one of the most popular Englishmen of his day, and his reputation was forged on the battlefield and through his Christian activities at Gravesend. During his appointment as secretary to the viceroy of India in 1880, Gordon became unpopular with the government of the day for passionately campaigning for native rule in countries such as Botswana, South Africa and Ireland. Gordon met his death 1885 when, as governor-general of the Sudan, he refused to evacuate Egyptian forces from Khartoum, believing this to be unsafe.
Gordon's death was mourned throughout the British Empire. So great was the Australian public's response that a fund to produce a copy of Thornycroft's London monument for Melbourne was heavily oversubscribed. Perhaps due to oversubscription, Thornycroft produced the four reliefs on the limestone base, which are not found on the London statue. Although Gordon did not set foot on Australian soil, the monument is of great historical importance as his death prompted the dispatch of the first Australian troops overseas, a regiment from NSW.