Until recently, Sarah Siddons was a sorry sight. When we visited her in 2018, her nose has been bashed off by vandals (a crime that actually took place eight years ago), she wore a crisp packet tiara and a pizza box ruff.
The statue of the 18th century’s greatest tragedienne cut as tragic a figure as any of her onstage personas.
Now, the statue — which stands on Paddington Green, and was created in 1897 by Léon-Joseph Chavalliaud — is returned to its former glory, thanks to a £17,000 restoration project from Heritage of London Trust and London Stone Conservation.
Contemporary portraits of Siddons — alongside photos of the pre-vandalised statue — were used to restore the white marble tribute. Once again she wears the handsome face that brought countless Londoners to tears.
Siddons was an A-lister of her day, and it’s reported that her retirement from the stage in 1812, led to pandemonium among the audience (who wouldn’t let the play, Macbeth, continue), and “perhaps the most extraordinary farewell performance in theatre history”.
HRH the Duke of Gloucester attended the unveiling ceremony, alongside Peter Siddons, a direct descendant of Sarah Siddons.