Known locally as ‘The Naked Lady’, this statue by the French sculptor Émile Guillaume was purchased by the newspaper magnate, Lord Rothermere, who donated it to Finchley Urban District Council. Their original intention was to erect it in Victoria Park, but Rothermere insisted it should be installed in its current location.
Designed by Guillaume between 1914-1919 and initially called La Victoire (Victory), the statue commemorates the Allies victory, when the British and French armies defeated invading German armies at the Battle of the Marne in September 1914. An unusual war memorial, it was awarded a prize when exhibited at the Paris Salon in 1920. Eleven casts of La Délivrance (Deliverance) in various sizes were produced by Barbedienne and presented to cities in France and Belgium which had been occupied or destroyed during the First World War. A cast purchased by the city of Nantes is the same size as the present bronze.
When the statue was unveiled in 1927, Lord Rothermere described the sculpture to the crowd as simply a beautiful monument, rather than a war memorial in the ordinary sense. While Lloyd George told them to ‘gaze at this statue and you will see that its message and meaning represent a symbol of what victory in the war meant to humanity – deliverance. Now we should strive for deliverance, not by the sword, but from it.’
An information panel put up in 2007 reads: ‘LA DELIVRANCE / THIS STATUE BY EMILE GUILLAUME SYMBOLIZES / THE EMOTION INSPIRED AMONG THE ALLIED NATIONS / WHEN THE ARMIES OF BRITAIN AND FRANCE / DEFEATED THE INVADING GERMAN ARMIES / AT THE BATTLE OF THE MARNE SEPTEMBER 1914 / PRESENTED BY VISCOUNT ROTHERMERE’.
Location: Henly's Corner, Regents Park Road, Finchley, London, N3.