Tuesday, 14 April 2009

31 Old Bond Street W1

It is a bit difficult to identify the designer of architectural sculpture. Architects would specify the subject and size, of course, but sometimes they would also draw exactly what they wanted and the sculptor would just wield the hammer and chisel. At the other end of the spectrum, major sculptors such as Epstein would expect to be given more or less carte blanche.
In the case of the narrow shop of 1898 at 31 Old Bond Street, the picture is even more difficult to interpret. The architect was A. Beresford Pite, who certainly knew his own mind, but the four figures where carved by the firm of Brindley and Farmer, who were perfectly capable of creating their own designs, and another artist was also involved - the models were created by the French sculptor Leon-Joseph Chavalliaud.
Chavalliaud spent 15 years in England and was responsible for figure of Mrs Siddons as the Tragic Muse, in Paddington Green and a lot of work in Liverpool.
Whoever dreamed them up, the results are very attractive. On the first floor, two niches contain reliefs of draped female figures of Spring carrying a flower and Autumn carrying a sickle and a sheaf of corn.
A pair of women crouch over the shop window. It is a bit difficult to make out what they are doing. Both have urns or possibly braziers in front of them. One seems to be squeezing or kneading something, and the other holds a column.

1 comment:

Capability Bowes said...

I think the figure with the brazier is "Hospitality". Would this have anything to do with the original use of the shop? Can't quite make out what the other one is holding!