Frieze of Parnassus - Chambers

Albert Memorial & The Frieze of Parnassus Frieze of Parnassus - Chambers

Erection date: 1872



Site: Albert Memorial & The Frieze of Parnassus (52 memorials)

SW7, Kensington Road

The monument, commissioned by Queen Victoria and designed by George Gilbert Scott, was built 1864-72, and the statue of Albert was installed in 1875. Even for a Victorian edifice the excess of decoration is extraordinary - we suspect the design suffered mission creep.

On the Frieze of Parnassus are depicted 168 men, 1 woman and two dogs, gender unknown. The woman is Nitocris, a historically questionable pharaoh who, it is claimed, built the third pyramid at Giza.

The men are segregated by field of fame. Reading anticlockwise from the south-west corner: Armstead carved the south and east sides, populated with musicians, poets, musicians, painters, grouped by nationality; Philip carved the north and west sides with architects and sculptors, cleverly arranged chronologically so that the Egyptian architects turn the corner in the same space with Egyptian sculptors.

Remarkably the whole Frieze was carved on site. In the selection of the figures, only one exception to the "must be dead" rule was allowed: George Gilbert Scott himself. Actually only 167 men are represented, one of them twice: Michelangelo as a painter and again as a sculptor. The dogs are Hogarth's Trump and a generic greyhound associated with Veronese.

Normally one cannot get close enough to the Frieze to take satisfactory photos but in May 2017 we joined a tour of the monument which gave us the proximity needed. We photographed all the figures in the Frieze but have decided to publish only (with a few exceptions) those already on London Remembers. Many of the others are little-known outside their field and have no connection to London. See Wikipedia for the entire list and some good photos of the whole Frieze.

The monument has many other figures of an allegorical nature, which are well covered at The Library Time Machine. Another page at the Library Time Machine has some interesting photos of the monument under construction.

Ian Visits managed to get a tour of the usually inaccessible undercroft, the structure that supports this monument.

This section lists the subjects commemorated on the memorial on this page:
Frieze of Parnassus - Chambers

Subjects commemorated Information

Sir William Chambers

Architect. Though born in Gothenburg, Sweden where his father was a merchant,...

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This section lists the subjects who helped to create/erect the memorial on this page:
Frieze of Parnassus - Chambers

Created by Information

John Birnie Philip

John Birnie Philip was born on 23 November 1824 in London, the third son of t...

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This section lists the other memorials at the same location as the memorial on this page:
Frieze of Parnassus - Chambers

Also at this site Information

Nearby Memorials

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Three Printers statue

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The rescue of this sculpture is given in Indie London.

1 subject commemorated, 2 creators
Derby statue

Derby statue

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The relief panels, by Montford, on the four sides of the plinth show scenes from Derby's life and are entitled: House of Commons 1833, Ch...

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Westminster Abbey D - Elizabeth of Russia

Westminster Abbey D - Elizabeth of Russia

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Fourteen niches on the West Front remained empty since the Abbey was built until 1998 when they were filled. The lower four are filled wi...

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