The final martial statue returns to Stowe after 100 years
The final statue in the martial series has returned to the National Trust-owned garden for the first time in nearly 100 years following extensive public support and donations for Restoring Stowe – The Landscape Programme.
A cast of The Wrestlers – two men taking part in the Greek sport pankration – will take its place at the heart of the Labyrinth in the Western Garden.
The statue’s return to Stowe follows the reinstatement of Hercules & Antaeus and Samson and the Philistine in 2016, and The Gladiator in the Grecian Valley on 25 October 2017.
Gillian Mason, National Trust curator, explains, “This is a significant year in our restoration of Stowe, the return of these statues reinstates layers of meaning back into the garden, reflecting its eighteenth century zenith.”
The Wrestlers is thought to have been introduced to Stowe in the 1730s along with the other martial statues. Purchased for Bridgeman’s extension of the garden of the same period, The Wrestlers was set within the Labyrinth looking out over Warden Hill Walk.
The Wrestlers is one of four statues that form part of a procession around the garden. Each statue depicts different styles of warfare: sporting competition, ignoble warfare/murder and noble warfare.
Many of the original statues were sold in the great auction of Stowe House in 1921 and 1922 when the decline of the aristocratic family led to bankruptcy. Now scattered all over the world, the National Trust seeks to return the originals where possible, or has sought permission to have faithful replicas cast.