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Model - Valour and Cowardice
  • Valour and Cowardice
    Alfred Stevens, born 1817 - died 1875
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Valour and Cowardice

  • Object:


  • Place of origin:

    England (made)

  • Date:

    1866 (made)
    1857 (designed)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Alfred Stevens, born 1817 - died 1875 (maker)

  • Materials and Techniques:


  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    Sculpture, Room 22, The Dorothy and Michael Hintze Galleries, case FS

After a long selection process, the little-known sculptor Alfred Stevens was awarded the commission to produce a monument to the Duke of Wellington. He had already produced a reduced version of his intended monument as his competition model in 1857. This model is also in the Museum's collections (Museum no. 44-1878). This group and its companion depicting Truth and Falsehood (Museum no. 321A-1878) are full-size models for the bronze groups featured on the Wellington monument in St Paul's Cathedral. They were not completed by Stevens until 1866. In this work the draped female figure of Valour triumphantly crushes the struggling figure of Cowardice beneath a shield.

The entire monument comprised of a triumphal arch with the bier and recumbent effigy of Wellington. The colossal figures of Truth and Falsehood and Valour and Cowardice were placed at either side. The monument was not completed until 1912, almost 40 years after the death of the sculptor.

A sculptor, designer and painter, Alfred Stevens (1817/18-1875) rejected contemporary distinctions between fine art and design. From 1850 to 1857 he was chief designer to Hoole & Co., Sheffield, where he produced award-winning designs for metalwork, majolica, terracotta ornaments and chimney-pieces. Perhaps his two greatest works were the decorations for the dining-room at Dorchester House, London (about 1856), for which he made countless drawings inspired by the Italian High Renaissance style, in particular the work of Michelangelo and the monument to the Duke of Wellington for St Paul's Cathedral, London, which was completed after his death. The two allegorical groups from this monument made a lasting impact on the New Sculpture movement.
The influence of the Italian Renaissance is evident in much of Steven's work, and is perhaps best reflected in the Wellington monument.

Physical description

Full-sized model for the bronze figure of Valour and Cowardice on the Wellington Model.

Place of Origin

England (made)


1866 (made)
1857 (designed)


Alfred Stevens, born 1817 - died 1875 (maker)

Materials and Techniques



Width: 115 cm, Height: 236 cm, Depth: 157 cm

Object history note

Purchased from Alfred Pegler Esq., Maybush Lodge, Old Shirley, Southampton, together with cat. nos. 577 and 578 in 1878 for £150.

Descriptive line

Model, plaster, Valour and Cowardice, for the Wellington Monument, by Alfred Stevens, England, ca. 1857

Bibliographic References (Citation, Note/Abstract, NAL no)

List of Objects in the Art Division, South Kensington Museum acquired in the Year 1878. London, 1879. p31
Stannus, Hugh, Alfred Stevens and his Work. London: The Autotype Co, 1891. pp.19-20, pl. XXXVIII
Brown, F.P. London Sculpture Oxford: Pitman, 1934. pp.70, 78
Bilbey, Diane and Trusted, Marjorie. British Sculpture 1470 to 2000. A Concise Catalogue of the Collection of the Victoria and Albert Museum. London: V & A Publications, 2002. Catalogue number, 576, p.375-6
Physick, J. The Wellington Monument. London: Victoria and Albert Museum, 1970. pp.72-3. pl. 52-5
Read, B. Victorian Sculpture. London: New Haven, 1982. p.29, pl. 20
Victoria and Albert Museum Picture Book of the Work of Albert Stevens. London: V&A, 1926. Fig. 4
Kenworthy-Browne. Chippendale and his Contemporaries. London: Orbis Books, 1973. pp.575, fig 5
Beattie, S. Alfred Stevens 1817-1875. London: Victoria and Albert Museum, 1975
Trusted, M. The Making of Sculpture. The materials and techniques of European sculpture London: Victoria and Albert Museum, 2007. pp.158, pl.304
Penny, N. Catalogue of European Sculpture in the Ashmoleon Museum III. Oxford: Ashmolean, 1992. p.161
Williamson, P, e.d. European Sculpture at the Victoria and Albert Museum. London, 1996. pp.176-177






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