Statue

Frieze of Parnassus - Wren

Erection date: 1872

Inscription

Wren

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 - Wren

Subjects commemorated i

Sir Christopher Wren

Born East Knoyle, Wiltshire, died London.  Designer of 54 London churches, o...

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

Created by i

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 - Wren

Also at this site i

Nearby Memorials

Alice and Quintin Hogg

Alice and Quintin Hogg

W1, Portland Place

Portland Place is an extremely wide road for London, and was built like that in the late 18th century. The Duke of Portland owned all the...

5 subjects commemorated, 1 creator
William Shakespeare - British Library

William Shakespeare - British Library

NW1, Euston Road, The British Library

An information panel informs that the statue was commissioned by David Garrick and sculpted by Louis Roubiliac. It was bequeathed to the ...

1 subject commemorated, 2 creators
Princess Diana statue

Princess Diana statue

W8, Sunken Garden, Princess Diana Memorial Garden, Kensington Palace

This bronze, larger than life-size statue was unveiled by Princes William and Harry, on what would have been Diana's 60th birthday. It wa...

1 subject commemorated, 3 creators
Westminster School - old boys - 1 - Elizabeth I

Westminster School - old boys - 1 - Elizabeth I

SW1, Broad Sanctuary

From Westminster's Conservation Audit: This Listed grade II monument was designed by Sir George Gilbert Scott. It is in a high Victorian ...

1 subject commemorated, 1 creator
Sarah Siddons statue

Sarah Siddons statue

W2, Paddington Green

Oh dear, the poor girl needs to spend some more time in make-up. The pose is inspired by Reynolds' 1784 painting 'Mrs Siddons as the Trag...

1 subject commemorated, 2 creators