Cross-Referencing the Earl Haig Memorial on Whitehall, London

Sunday, January 5, 2020
3rd Floor West Promenade (New York Hilton)
J. A. Nice, California State University, Chico
In the aftermath of the Robert E. Lee sculpture fury in Charlottesville, memorials around the world have increasingly come under scrutiny. In England, these controversies have enveloped memorials to slave traders (e.g., Edward Colston, Bristol), but London’s memorials have yet to receive the same level of public re-examination as New York’s Mayoral Advisory Commission on City Art, Monuments, and Markers (2017). Memorials and commemorations abound in London, especially in recent World War I centennial observations, but a monument to a principle architect of the catastrophe on the Western Front remains relatively unchallenged. An equestrian statue of Field Marshal Earl Haig, Commander-in-Chief of British forces in France from 1915 to 1918, is prominently situated in the middle of Whitehall, adjacent to the site of Charles I’s execution at Banqueting Hall. The history of Alfred Hardiman’s sculpture of Earl Haig, commissioned and executed during the same era as many Confederate memorials during the 1920s and 30s, is relatively well known, but my “poster” will examine the one-hundred-year history of the memorial, from the Field Marshall’s career in France, to the commission for a memorial following his death in 1928, to the immediate controversy surrounding the sculpture itself, and finally to the growing uneasiness about the subject of the sculpture himself. However, rather than presenting this history as a narrative (conference paper, article, or book), or even as a traditional poster, I propose displaying a series of four original works of art (my own), based loosely on the concept of William Hogarth’s Four Times of Day (1736), which also depicts the streets of London. Additionally, as a trained historian seeking to tell a story about the past grounded in evidence, my four pieces will include full citations (footnotes) designed to engage the viewer in a meaningful and thoughtful conversation about the place of Earl Haig in London’s commemorative landscape. I have confirmed with Debbie Doyle, Meetings Manager, that the 4 x 8 bulletin boards are appropriate to display my project, as the works of art will be light enough to rest on tacks.
See more of: Poster Session #3
See more of: AHA Sessions