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Virtues - Lucidity

Erection date: 25/11/1952

Bertrand Russell is reaching out to remove a blindfold from a naked woman who holds a mirror. She is the symbolic figure of Truth and he has just raised her from a well. The coronet behind Russell indicates that he succeeded to his hereditary peerage in 1931.

The imagery arises from a translation of an aphorism of the philosopher Democritus, "Of truth we know nothing, for truth is in a well".  This inspired the French artist Jean-Léon Gérôme to make at least four paintings personifying Truth as a nude woman, between the mid-1890s and his death in 1904. There is also one by Édouard Debat-Ponsan (1898). In all but one the mirror figures prominently. Each is a fine example of the period's acceptance of titillating paintings of naked female flesh.

Anrep's version fails to titillate but perhaps he was inspired to use the symbolism by seeing (copies of) the paintings.

Site: National Gallery - Anrep mosaics - Virtues (15 memorials)

WC2, Trafalgar Square, National Gallery - Staircase Hall - North Vestibule

See National Gallery - Anrep mosaics - Muses for general information about these mosaic floors.

The 1954 'Modern Virtues' is in a style very different from that of the earlier 'Muses' floor, with scenes depicted inside frames which carry each scene’s title. These panels appear to be laid on a mosaic floor with a geometric pattern, on which autumnal leaves have fallen – trompe l'oeil in mosaic.

This 'Modern Virtues' floor was gifted (which we take to mean funded) by Maud Russell and opened on 25 November 1952.

To avoid database clutter we have put the Creator links on just the page for the Anrep panel.

This section lists the subjects commemorated on the memorial on this page:
Virtues - Lucidity

Subjects commemorated i

Bertrand Russell

Philosopher, logician, essayist, social critic and campaigner for peace. Bert...

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

Also at this site i

Virtues - Anrep

Virtues - Anrep

Carved at the top of the gravestone is a portrait of Anrep himself. The image...

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Virtues - Compassion

Virtues - Compassion

Anna Akhmatova, looking towards Anrep's gravestone (in another panel) and sur...

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Virtues - Compromise

Virtues - Compromise

We initially thought this odd scene may refer to one of Loretta Young's films...

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Virtues - Curiosity

Virtues - Curiosity

Lord Rutherford wears a coronet - he had been raised to the peerage in 1931. ...

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Virtues - Defiance

Virtues - Defiance

In front of the white cliffs of Dover Winston Churchill, in his signature sir...

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