Saturday, 14 February 2009

Former City of London School for Boys, Victoria Embankment EC4

The central arch of the school is graced by the Classics and Poetry, and they are supported on either side by Art and History.
To the left G.W. Seale has carved Drawing and Music, as lively a pair of girlies as could be imagined being turned away by the porter for not being properly dressed for a Victorian educational institution. Drawing is doing a quick sketch of the bust of a bearded Greek philosopher. Music is blowing a strange flute thing, with a harp ready at her feet for the next item on the programme.
To the right is History, represented by girl scribes from ancient and modern times.
Ancient girl is carving some sort of lettering on a monument. What language is it? The letters look vaguely like cuneiform, but that may just be my ignorance. The girl's costume doesn't help identify what civilisation she comes from (there is not much of it) and her hairstyle is generic 'exotic ancient civilizations style', as worn by Elizabeth Taylor in so many movies.
Modern history is represented by a properly dressed female angel, with wings, writing on a scroll. The lamp of Holy Scripture provides illumination.
Looking back through the kaleidoscope of the 1960s, can we see the origin of many hangups and traumas here?


Philip Wilkinson said...

The writing does look like cuneiform, but it's a bit odd because you normally wrote cuneiform using a wedge-shaped stylus in a damp clay tablet, which then set hard, to make a permanent document. Chipping cuneiform with a chisel rather defeats its object, but the sculptor wasn't after historical accuracy here, as you've hinted in your comment about the costumes. In the carving representing music, I think I can detect a second 'tube' next to the one she's holding, so that makes her instrument a double-flute (or aulos, I think), beloved of the ancient Greeks. Anyway, thanks for these posts, as fascinating as ever.

ChrisP said...

I do believe you're right. Well spotted that man!