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Muses - Bacchus

Erection date: 1933

Clive Bell as Bacchus, god of wine, parties, the theatre and general fun/mayhem. That long stick he's holding is a thyrsus - symbol of of prosperity, fertility, and hedonism.

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 - Bacchus

Subjects commemorated i

Clive Bell

Art critic and writer, married Vanessa Stephen, sister of Virginia Woolf.

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

Also at this site i

Muses - Apollo

Muses - Apollo

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

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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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Nearby Memorials

New River Head

New River Head

EC1, Hardwick Street, 173

At New River Head the water in the New River flowed into a Round Pond.

1 subject commemorated, 1 creator
Poppy window

Poppy window

W2, Connaught Place, 16

We photographed this at first just because it is such a lovely window. Then we noticed that the flowers are poppies, well known to comme...

2 subjects commemorated
South Bank mosaic - Lilian Baylis

South Bank mosaic - Lilian Baylis

SE1, South Bank Centre, Queen Elizabeth Hall / Purcell Room

These mosaics are laid in the pavement in a rather sad, out the way, corner of the South Bank, at street level, near the non-main entranc...

1 subject commemorated, 2 creators
School grounds and building

School grounds and building

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A strange memorial. The little roof and pillars make this look as if it could originally have been the entrance to the building. But with...

2 subjects commemorated
Mosaic House, front - Kenny Whitmore taxi

Mosaic House, front - Kenny Whitmore taxi

W4, Fairlawn Grove, 4-6

This house is/was the home of artist Carrie Reichardt. Across the top of the first floor bay window: "I'm an artist, your rules don't app...

1 subject commemorated, 1 creator