Glasgow - City of Sculpture
By Gary Nisbet
Monument to David Livingstone


Sculptor: John Mossman (1817-1890)
Assisted by: Francis Leslie (1833-94)
                  James Pittendrigh Macgillivray (1856-1938)
Designers of pedestal: Campbell Douglas & Sellars
Foundry: Cox & Sons
Location: Cathedral Square, Townhead, Glasgow
Date executed: 1875-9

Monument to David Livingstone , Glasgow Monument to David Livingstone , Glasgow

The statue of David Livingstone stands in Cathedral Square, at the west end of the Cathedral Precinct, between the Royal Infirmary and St Mungo's Museum of Religious Life and Art, facing Castle Street. This is the third site that the statue has occupied, having originally been erected on the west side of George Square in 1879, and then moved to an island site in Cathedral Square in 1960, a few yards to the south of its present location, where it faced Provand's Lordship. It was moved here in 1990, as part of the creation of the precinct as a processional route to Glasgow Cathedral.

Monument to David Livingstone , Glasgow Monument to David Livingstone , Glasgow

The statue commemorates David Livingstone (1813-73), the Scottish born doctor, missionary and explorer, whose exploits in Africa and his discovery by Henry Morton Stanley ('Dr Livingstone, I presume?') have become legendary. He was born in Blantyre and studied medicine and science in Glasgow at the Andersonian (now Strathclyde) University in George Street. After graduating in 1840, he was sent to southern Africa by the London Missionary Society and began exploring and charting hitherto unexplored territory and discovered Lake Ngami. During his later explorations he discovered Lake Nyasa and the Victoria Falls, and attempted to supress the Arab driven slave trade. Joined by Stanley for further expeditions, Livingstone died at Ilala, where his heart was buried under a tree before his body was conveyed to London for burial in Westminster Abbey.

Monument to David Livingstone , Glasgow Monument to David Livingstone , Glasgow

Mossman's commission for the statue was won in competition against William Brodie of Edinburgh, and William Calder Marshall of London, in April 1875. All three designs were submitted anonymously with mottos to identify them, the winner being submitted under the motto: Clutha. By December 1876, the clay model was ready for casting and the finished bronze was exhibited at its foundry in Thames Ditton, Surrey, a year later (also on show was Mossman's statue of Thomas Campbell, which was also destined for George Square). The statue was eventually unveiled in March 1879, by James White of Overtoun, with the sculptor and members of Livingstone's family in attendance.

The statue stands 2.4m high, and is a straightforward portrait of Livingston gazing into the distance. He holds a bible in front of him in his left hand, and reaches for his famous cap which rests on a tree stump draped with a cloth at his right side, with his other hand. Behind his left foot lies a sextant, an astrolabe and an ankle shackle, which serve to identify him as an explorer and anti-slavery campaigner.

Monument to David Livingstone , Glasgow Monument to David Livingstone , Glasgow

The pedestal was designed by Campbell Douglas & Sellars, and includes three narrative relief panels depicting Livingstone as a missionary (front), an explorer (right side) and his fight against the slave trade (left side), whilst a fourth panel on the rear of the pedestal features his name and dates of birth and death.

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