I came across this rather grand bronze statue when making my way back to the Old City from the must visit Corner House (former KGB Building).
Prince Michael Barclay de Tolly (1761-1818) was a Russian Field Marshal (in command of the 1st Army of the West, the largest of the Russian armies facing Napoleon) and Minister of War during Napoleon’s invasion of Russia in 1812 and during later campaigns of the Russian army in Europe.
De Tolly was born in present day Lithuania and was of Scottish decent. His ancestors moved to Riga in 1664 and both they and his descendants held various high positions in the city. His grandfather was Mayor of Riga.
The original of this sculpture was created by William Wandschmeider and unveiled in 1913 – to commemorate 100 years of victory over Napoleon in 1912.
There are two stories as to what happened the original statue during WWI. Some have it that in the process of being moved to safety by ship, the ship was attacked and sunk while others contend that the statue was one of many statues and numerous of the City’s church bells that were removed and melted down for metal, in support of the war effort.
Post WWI there was no great rush by anyone to replace the statue of a former Russian military officer. This copy, paid for by donations of local businessman J.Grombergs , was created by Alexey Murzin and Ivan Korneyev and unveiled in 2002. As the accompanying information board of the time tells us, it was put on display initially only for six months during which time public opinion would be collected to see if it should remain on display or not. While there certainly was not unanimous support for having the statue of a Russian Field Marshal on display in Riga, even if he was of Scottish ancestry, there was obviously sufficient as the statue was still on display in 2015.
Address: Esplanade Park
Directions: Close to Brivibas iela to the rear of Nativity Cathedral