Friday 27 July 2012

Guildhall, Basinghall Street EC2

The bit of the Guildhall that faces onto Basinghall Street was built in 1870 as the library by Sir Horace Jones, architect of Tower Bridge, which it strongly resembles. Jones placed three niches in the facade that were later filled with statues of Queens of England by J.W. Seale of Lambeth.
The figures are representative rather than realistic. Anne is portrayed as a beauty with a wasp waist when in reality she was so short and fat that when she died she had to be buried in a cubic coffin. Even Victoria, who was in her fifties at the time, is shown as a young woman.
Elizabeth I has unfortunately suffered damage to her hands and may have been holding regalia, possibly a sceptre in contrast to the orbs held by Anne and Victoria.
J.W. Seale was the progenitor of one of the sculpting dynasties that dominated the London architectural sculpture market until it collapse under the onset of International Modernism in the 1950s. Others included G.W. Seale and Gilbert Seale.

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