White marble and granite sculpture
Queen Victoria Gardens
Born in Edinburgh in 1862, James White trained as a sculptor in London before immigrating to Sydney in 1884. In the early 1900s he was much in demand as a portraitist, and was the leading bronze caster in Australia. His work can be found in many cities around the country, and this is one of two memorials he sculpted to Queen Victoria; the other is in Ballarat.
Victoria was crowned Queen on 28 June 1838, when she was just 18 years of age. Lord Melbourne served as her first prime minister, educating her in politics and government. During her reign the British Empire reached its apogee, with vast colonies abroad and great industrial expansion and reforms at home. Notably, it was Victoria that changed the role of the monarchy to a symbolic one, the business of government being left to parliament.
News of the Queen's death in 1901 saw a wave of public mourning through Australia. In Melbourne, a proposal for a memorial was raised with some urgency; Melbourne was thought to have been the only large city in the Empire without a statue honouring the monarch. It was apparently not enough that the state was named after her and the city after her first prime minister. More than £7000 was raised for the memorial through public subscription, and James White was to undertake the commission. There was controversy over the conduct of the committee in selecting White and over his insistence that the marble be sculpted in Italy, rather than in Australia. But on Empire Day 1907 the memorial was unveiled on a raised mound near Linlithgow Avenue in the Queen Victoria Gardens. The lieutenant governor of Victoria, John Madden, unveiled it.