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Weekend Elephant #4 The Result!

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Monday, 1 August 2011

Weekend Elephant #4 The Result!

This weekend's London elephant is probably passed by more people each day than any other. It took until Sunday morning though for one reader to correctly identify it. Congratulations to Helene from Brixton for not only supplying the location but also the sculptor.

Asia - Henry Hugh Armstead

The elephant comes from the Asia spandrel on the Whitehall frontage of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (formerly the Foreign, India, Colonial, and Home Offices). All the continents were carved by Henry Hugh Armstead for the building's architect George Gilbert Scott.

Africa - Henry Hugh Armstead
America - Henry Hugh Armstead
Australasia - Henry Hugh Armstead
Europe - Henry Hugh Armstead
Henry Hugh Armstead (1828 –1905) also provided large-scale sculptures for the Palace of Westminster and over 80 figures for Scott's Albert Memorial, but my favourite work of his in London is on a far smaller scale.

Prior to the building of the Albert Memorial, George Gilbert Scott commissioned a scale model, this is now in the Victoria and Albert museum. For the model Armstead provided all of the miniature sculptures. Scott was so pleased with Armstead's work that he wrote ‘I doubt whether either the central figure or a single group, as executed, is superior to the miniature models furnished by Mr Armstead’.

On a different note, sharp-eyed readers may have noticed the swastika patterns surrounding each sculpture. The building dates from 1861-1875, well before the ancient symbol became associated with the Nazis. There are many other innocent uses of the symbol in London. A recent article, and reader comments, on the excellent Great Wen blog describe these and also investigate the rumour of Nazi swastika just off The Mall.

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2 Comments:

At 2 August 2011 at 10:04 , Anonymous Mo said...

I must look out for this building, haven't noticed it before. Fabulous work.

 
At 3 August 2011 at 05:45 , Blogger Peter Berthoud said...

Thank you Mo, I am glad you enjoyed these. There are many other sculptures at the FCO including more from Armstead and also his contemporary John Birnie Philip. I hope you get a chance to see them soon.

 

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