Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice may have just turned 200, but the beloved story of Elizabeth Bennet and Mr. Darcy still looms large. Especially so in London’s Hyde Park, where a new 12-foot tall statue of Mr. Darcy — as played by Colin Firth — has just been erected in Serpentine lake.
The statue shows the top half of Mr. Darcy emerging soaking wet from an afternoon swim, moments before he and Ms. Bennet share an awkward encounter. The scene is one of the most memorable in the canon of Austen adaptations – as no such meeting appears in the book. Writing in The Guardian, critic and Austen expert John Mullan commented, “I suppose it is inevitable that Pride and Prejudice be best known for a scene that Austen never wrote.”
The giant fiberglass likeness is modeled on Firth, who famously played Darcy (alongside Jennifer Ehle as Elizabeth Bennet) in the 1995 BBC miniseries version of the Austen romance. The scene turned Firth into a romantic hero and international sex symbol.
The statue was crafted by three sculptors over the course of two months, but it’s not just art for art’s sake. In fact, the statue is an eye-popping bit of promotion for Drama, a new digital TV channel dedicated to British programs (like Pride and Prejudice). The scene was chosen by U.K. television viewers — in a recent survey, they voted it the most memorable moment in a British TV drama.
The statue is scheduled to go on display at several locations around England before being installed in the lake in Lyme Park, Cheshire, the handsome estate in northwest England where the famous scene was filmed. It will remain there until February.
And just in case you want to relive the magic of the scene…