Sunday 4 March 2012

Tivoli Corner, Bank of England, Prince's Street EC2

The Bank of England is one of those buildings I try to avert my eyes from. The scandalous rebuilding in the 1920s and 30s was a grievous loss of the master-work of one of our greatest architects, Sir John Soane.
The perpetrator was Sir Herbert Baker, who kept most of Soane's curtain walls but added a lumpen office block above in his usual soft classical style.
Luckily, Baker employed his favourite sculptor, Sir Charles Wheeler, and his work is the building's only redeeming feature.
This gilded bronze figure of the Spirit of the Winds stands on the cupola of the Tivoli Corner. Despite being egregiously female, she is usually referred to as Ariel, something for which we have Baker to thank - he was the first to refer to her as an 'Arielesque figure'.
The Bank itself described her in heavyweight PR-speak as 'the symbol of the Dynamic Spirit of the Bank which carries Credit and Trust over the wide world.'

Under the rotunda of the Tivoli Corner, Wheeler placed these keystones representing the Roman port of London, Old Father Thames and an owl, presumably representing the wisdom for which bankers are famed.

1 comment:

Diane said...

The owl should make people spend wisely.