Friday 31 October 2008

Midland Bank, Poultry EC2

Sir Edwin Lutyens got the commission for the 1925 headquarters of the Midland Bank in Poultry because he happened to be best mates with Reginald Mackenna, the chairman, but he was actually the perfect architect for the job. The building is noble, proportionate and humane, unlike the jokey post-modern licorice allsort over the road by Big Jim Stirling.
On either side is a statue of a boy playing with a goose, carved by Sir William Reid Dick. It is a typical piece of Lutyens whimsy - he wanted something that would recall the address, Poultry, which got its name from the poulterers that traded there in medieval times.
Reid Dick celebrated this with a reinterpretation of one of the famous sculptures of ancient times - the boy playing with a goose by the Greek sculptor Boethus. Boethus made the original in bronze, but the group is known today by Roman copies in stone - this one is in the Louvre.
The boy and the goose are locked in a deathly struggle - but is it play, or is the little fellow trying to strangle the bird?

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