Friday 19 March 2010

Hotel Russell, Russell Square WC1

Anne (or Mary)
H.C. Fehr modelled four British Queens for the main entrance of the Hotel Russell, and four prime ministers for round the side. As with most of Fehr's work, they are very idealised, in fact, idealised to the extent of being practically unidentifiable, except that we can assume that the Catholic Mary Tudor would not have been included as Catholics were still regarded as suspect to say the least.
The best clue to their identities is inside the hotel, where the best suites are the Elizabeth, Anne, Mary and Victoria.
Mary (or Anne)
Elizabeth is obvious from her ruff, and the 18th century fashions point out Anne and Mary, though which is which I'd rather not say.
Which leaves the girl with the orb as Victoria. This is truly eccentric - in 1898 the image of the Queen as the little old widow was so well established I bet most Victorians would have been amazed that this young thing was actually their Empress.
And Victoria was always, even when young, portrayed with her hair in a bun.
Lord Derby


Lord Salisbury
Identifying the prime ministers is, oddly, rather easier despite the lavish Victorian face fungus. They are (if I have got this right) Lord Derby, Lord Salisbury, a young and rather dynamic looking Gladstone, and the only instantly recognisable one, Disraeli.

1 comment:

Hels said...

I can understand why the owner of the new building might have commissioned queens. After all, they represented the entire nation, they ruled for very long reigns and were largely not open to charges of corruption etc.

But politicians come and go. Even prime ministers were supported by only half of the voting population and loathed by the other half. No wonder the owner asked the sculptor to put the politicians around the side.