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Muses - Apollo

Erection date: 1933

Osbert Sitwell as Apollo, god of music, dance and lots more, plays a pipe to awaken the muses.

Site: National Gallery - Anrep mosaics - Muses (11 memorials)

WC2, Trafalgar Square, National Gallery - Staircase Hall - Half-way Landing

Introduction to the Anrep Mosaics
Four floors in the Staircase Hall (1887) of the original National Gallery building are inlaid with delightful and puzzling mosaics by Boris Anrep. Laid in 1928-33 and 1954, these mosaics show gods and muses, and various human activities, many in the guise of real people of the day: contemporaries of Anrep, involved in public, intellectual and cultural life, all known to Anrep personally, such as those also associated with the Bloomsbury Group.

Entering via the original building’s portico entrance you first come across the ‘Awakening of the Muses’ on the halfway landing. From there you can take flights of stairs to either: the west vestibule and see the ‘Labours of Life’; the east vestibule and see the ‘Pleasures of Life’; the north vestibule and see the ‘Modern Virtues’. Richard Evans has a photo showing this original layout of the space.

The west and east vestibule floors were opened on 31 May 1928 and 13 November 1929 respectively and both were the gift of Samuel Courtauld and other benefactors.

When we visited (April 2024) the only access to the east and west vestibules was via the north vestibule and even then part of the floors were obscured with screens. The mosaics in the east and west vestibules are no less interesting than the others but fortunately for us, do not, as far as we know, contain any portraits, so our research and photos are confined to the 'Muses' on the halfway landing (this photo) and the 'Modern Virtues' in the north vestibule, on another page

We must apologise for the quality of our images. The spaces are lit from above, making it difficult to keep glare and shadows out of photos.

When you visit ask at the entrance desk and they may have in stock their leaflet: "An Introduction to Boris Anrep's Mosaics at the National Gallery". This provides a key to all 4 mosaic floors and is similar to these web pages.

Awakening of the Muses
This 'Awakening of the Muses' floor was  gifted (which we take to mean funded) by Samuel Courtauld and other benefactors, and opened in 1933. 

It depicts two male gods: Apollo, playing a pipe, and Bacchus, surrounded by the 9 muses being awakened. Plants and many creatures are depicted; we spotted: a rabbit, a squirrel, a snail, a spider in its web, frogs, birds of various sorts, butterflies, etc. 

To avoid database clutter we have put the Creator links on just one page - Apollo.

This section lists the subjects commemorated on the memorial on this page:
Muses - Apollo

Subjects commemorated i

Sir Osbert Sitwell

Born 3 Arlington Street. Writer, famed for his collaborations with his sister...

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This section lists the subjects who helped to create/erect the memorial on this page:
Muses - Apollo

Created by i

National Gallery

In the late 1700s national galleries were all the rage in Europe. A number of...

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Boris Anrep

Mosaic artist. Also wrote poetry in Russian and English. Born Russia. Came to...

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Samuel Courtauld

Industrialist and art collector. 1932 founded The Courtauld Institute of Art....

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This section lists the other memorials at the same location as the memorial on this page:
Muses - Apollo

Also at this site i

Muses - Bacchus

Muses - Bacchus

Clive Bell as Bacchus, god of wine, parties, the theatre and general fun/mayh...

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Muses - Calliope

Muses - Calliope

The NG leaflet, referring to Calliope, the muse of epic poetry, has "Unknown ...

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Muses - Clio

Muses - Clio

Virginia Woolf as Clio the muse of history, holding a quill pen.

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Muses - Erato

Muses - Erato

Mary Hutchinson as Erato the muse of lyric poetry. Note the owl behind her.

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Muses - Euterpe

Muses - Euterpe

Christabel, Lady Aberconway as Euterpe the muse of music.

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