Reminiscent of the era of grand garden designs in Europe, the original design of Centennial Park featured a total of 31 terracotta figures and statues. They were used to accentuate points of intersection and to add interest along the drives and in and around garden areas.
Today, sadly only three statues remain: two terracotta statues, ‘Sunrise’ and ‘Sunset’, on sandstone columns in the Rose Garden (the third being the ‘We Won’ statue in Cannon Triangle).
While many of the terracotta figures and statues were removed in 1971 due to damage, two of the most striking statues remained: ‘Sunrise’ and ‘Sunset’ (it was considered that their lofty position gave them adequate protection).
These two statues which sit atop the magnificent sandstone columns in the Rose and Column Gardens are the only statues to have continuously remained on site. As such, they are a significant landmark within the Park. Manufactured by the famous Luxembourg pottery company, Villeroy and Boch in 1888, ‘Sunrise’ is a standing female figure with a baby boy on a half orb, while ‘Sunset’ is a life size female figure draped in a cloak from the back of the head to the feet.
The nine metre high Corinthian sandstone columns on which they stand have their own story to tell. Originally flanking the front entrance to the William Street Wing of the Australian Museum the fluted columns were dismantled and moved to Centennial Park where they were then used as the base for these statues.
Coincidentally, the Australian Museum was designed by James Barnet who also designed the Superintendent’s Residence in Centennial Park, which was constructed between 1866 and 1868.