Our Top 20 Animal Sculptures
The Footprints of London team had a really tough time deciding on our Top Ten Animal Sculptures so we decided to make it a Top Twenty. Whether as reliefs on buildings or free standing sculptures, animals are obviously a popular subject for the sculptor. Not surprising for a nation of animal lovers perhaps. Animals can be used to symbolise human characteristics like strength or bravery, artists have also picked up on the grace and beauty of the animals. Spotting animal sculptures can make a great game for families. Jenni Bowley is running two new City Safari walks that will focus on finding animal sculptures in the City of London Here be Dragons is on August 24th and An Elephant Never Forgets is on September 14th.
1 Asian Elephant – Albert Memorial Brian McClory shoes this elephant from the Albert Memorial, from the section depicting Asia. The Albert Memorial was a huge work of cooperation George Gilbert Scott’s memorial being adorned with the work of many of the Royal Academy’s artists under the coordination of Henry Hugh Armstead. The part representing Asia was created by Irish artist John Henry Foley. Poor Foley died before the memorial was finished – he was due to sculpt Albert himself. However he has managed to capture the elephants eyes beautifully.
2 Horse Sculptures – Minster Court Linda Dalton chose the three horses outside the post modern gothic 1990’s offices at Minster Court. Minster Court, The London Underwriting Centre is actually three linked buildings and artist Anthea Wynne claimed that she made one horse for each building. The wags soon gave them the nicknames, Dollar, Sterling and Yen. These striking horses are no doubt intended to convey the power of the financial city but they are quite beautiful animals too.
3 The Bull, King Street Hammersmith Stephen Benton chose the curious looking bull on a plinth outside the modern Ravenscourt Arms pub in Hammersmith. This came from the Black Bull Inn in Holborn which was demolished in 1904. The sign on the plinth indicates the inn was mentioned by Dickens in his book Martin Chuzzlewit. It was brought here by William (later Sir William) Bull, the local MP to what was then the offices of Bull and Bull, which was the family business. One question does occur. Why is the pub (presumably built subsequently) not called the Black Bull?
Stephen’s next walk looks at the history of West end department stores and is on July 6th
4 Dr Johnson’s Cat Hodge Neil Sinclair nominates Hodge. Hodge was Samuel Johnson’s favourite cat, and you can find this sculpture of him by Jon Bickley in Gough Square. Johnson treated Hodge well, personally going to the shops to buy him oyster’s to eat, which are pictured by Hodge’s feet, on top of the dictionary that Johnson wrote at Gough Square. Hodge is certainly one of the most celebrated of cats. Boswell mentions him in his “Life of Johnson” and Nabokov quoted Boswell’s reference to Hodge in “Pale Fire”. Samuel Beckett mentions Hodge in one work, and he appears in books by Yvonne Skargon and Charlie Fletcher
5 The Crystal Palace Iguanadon Rob Smith chose the Iguanodon from Crystal Palace Park. Although the sculpture is described as an Iguanodon we now know Iguanodon looked very different from Richard Owen’s conjectured recreation of 1854. Owen was working from only partial skeletons discovered by Gideon Mantell, but even then Owen chose to reject Mantell’s ideas, giving Iguanodon a four legged rather than two legged stance. Either way the dinosaurs caused a sensation when they were open to the public, on the opening evening dinner was served inside the Iguanodon to invited guests. The sculptures predate Darwin’s evolutionary theories but they caused a public debate as to how such creatures had been created yet were no longer in existence. This climate of questioning paved the way for acceptance of Darwin’s ideas.
Rob will be Walking The Hidden River Fleet on 29th June
6 The Peek Brothers Camel Caravan Brian McClory chose these camels at 20 Eastcheap. There’s an interesting link between a modest frieze depicting camels in Eastcheap and Africa on the Albert Memorial. They are by the same sculptor William Theed. Peek Bros. Trademark the Camel Caravan dates from 1884. The three camels led by an Arab are carrying three different shaped loads intended to represent the three main trades of the company as they were dealers in tea, coffee and spices. The stone carving is finely detailed including the dried bones of a dead camel. The choice of sculptor was unusual for a mundane job. The sculptor William Theed was highly regarded in his trade and he had completed Africa for the Albert Memorial which off course includes a camel. Brian’s Close to Cannon Street walk is on 4th July
7 Boy with Dolphin
Sue Bingham was really taken with Boy with a Dolphin on Cheyne Walk by David Wynne. “The model for the boy was Wynne’s own son Roly when he was eleven, but who died tragically – the statue now has an inscription in memory of his son. Wynne never went to art school and has done a number of great public art sculptures.“Boy with a Dolphin seeks to be a rounded portrait of a man who has sought to render his love of life and his wonder at the beauty of all things into a body of work which stands as testament to a unique creative vision. “There is also Girl with a Dolphin at Tower Bridge but I think the boy is very special.”
Sue looks at the life of Winston Churchill I her walk on 24th June
8 Mice and Cheese, Eastcheap Tina Baxter nominates this tiny sculpture of mice nibbling a piece of cheese on abuilding at 23 Eastcheap. The building was built as offices and warehousing for Hunt and Crombie in 1861-2. There are various stories about their origins but one is that during the construction one of the workmen found that very little remained of his sandwiches and accused another workman. A fight ensued and both men fell to their deaths. The mice were later found to be the culprits. Here’s a close up of the mice.
Tina has a walk looking at the history of the underground river Walbrook on 26th June
9 Geoffrey the Owl Ade Clarke chose Geoffrey the Owl hiding in the rafters of ‘Paleys on Pilers’ – the wooden structure at Aldgate. Geoffrey is of course named after Geoffrey Chaucer who inspired the structure, designed by Studio Weave. Chaucer wrote of a dream in which he visited a fantastical Paleys on Pilers – a palace on pillars. Chaucer was a resident of Aldgate and ‘Paleys on Pilers’, built in 2012, marks the spot of the Aldgate.
10 The Ducking Duck, Vanburgh Castle Brian McClory chose the ducking duck at Vanburgh Castle, Greenwich The weather vane shows a duck that appears to be ducking. It’s a play on the name of a former resident Alexander Duckham. Duckhams were the second largest oil blender after Castrol.
11 The faithful Highgate Hound Neil Sinclair chose this faithful hound in Highgate Cemetery.
12 Lioness and Lesser Kudu
Richard Watkins chose Lioness and Lesser Kudu in Upper Grosvenor Gardens. “I’m afraid the kudu’s number is up and the lioness is in for the kill. The tension in their muscles is tangible. A piece of the south African planes on a traffic island in central London.” The sculpture by Jonathan Kenworthy was commissioned by the Duke of Westminster in 2000
13 Shepherd and Sheep Brian McClory suggested Shepherd and Sheep by Dame Elisabeth Frink. The sculpture was originally sited in the previous Paternoster Square the somewhat windswept space that was demolished in the 1990s. The sculpture was inspired by London’s livestock markets, one of which was on the site of the square. Freemen of the City of London, like our very own Tina Baxter, traditionally have the right to herd sheep over London Bridge
Brian looks at Modern Architecture in the City on 29th June
14 The Carreras Black Cats Stephen Benton suggested the Black Cats outside the former Carreras Factory in Mornington Crescent. “This wonderful Art Deco building is was constructed as the Arcadia works for the Carreras Tobacco Company in the late 1920s. The building’s distinctive Egyptian style ornamentation originally included two gigantic black cat statues and colourful painted details plus above the door was a carved Horus of Behdet, a symbol of the winged disk of the Sun. During World War II it was felt that this symbol resembled too closely the eagle imagery of the Third Reich and it was covered up. When the factory was converted into offices in 1961 the Egyptian detailing was removed. However the building was restored during a renovation in the late 1990s. Replicas of the cats were put outside the entrance but the sun disk was not replaced.”
15 Wildlife of South Africa Rob Smith nominated the reliefs that decorate South Africa House in Trafalgar Square. “They seem to cover the entire flora and fauna of South Africa and the surrounding seas, but the panels featuring marine life are my favourite. The partially submerged crocodile is another nice one, but I think that monkey should watch out. The reliefs were created by Sir Charles Wheeler – you can find is sculpture on lots of government buildings in London, but the South Africa House animals are his most playful”
Rob visits Trafalgar Square on his walk London Destroyed
Picture Copyright Jen Pedler
Jen Pedler chose Whittington’s Cat that sits on the stone on Highgate Hill that traditionally marks the spot where Richard Whittington decided to turn back to London. Interestingly there’s no evidence he ever owned a cat, but apparently during some enovations of St Michael Paternoster Royal (his local church, he’s buried somewhere in the precincts but there’s no record of his tomb) during the Victorian period everyone got terribly excited when the practically mummified remains of a cat were found in a wall cavity. Until some of the builders confessed they had left it there as a joke.
17 Animals in War Memorial Toni Jaskel nominated the memorial in Park Lane for the animals that had no choice but gave their life in war.
18 The LSE Penguin Brian McClory nominated the statue of an Emperor Penguin outside London School of Economics. Despite weighing 60lb the statue, by artist Yolanda van der Gaast, was stolen in 2009 and has had to be replaced by a copy.
See this sculpture on Brian’s walk Palaces Temples and Courts on 2nd July
19 The Bargemaster and Swanmarker Tina Baxter chose the Bargemaster and Swan Marker at St Garlickhythe. The statue is by Vivien Mallock. The crown has claimed ownership of swans on the Thames since the twelfth century and shared them with the Vintners and the Dyers since the 15th century.
Tina has a walk around City hidden gardens and public spaces on 29th June
20 Royal Beasts Brian McClory also nominated Royal Beasts a group of galvanised wire sculptures by artist Kendra Haste. The sculptures are sited at various locations around the Tower of London. They recall the Tower’s role as Royal Menagerie, a collection of exotic animals kept for the monarchs amusement. The Menagerie was first established in the 1100’s and carried on until 1832 when its collection was moved to form the core of London Zoo – the worlds first modern zoo.
Find out more on Brian’s walk Around The Tower on June 26th
We hope you’ve enjoyed our selection, we would love to hear about your favourites – mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org or Tweet us @footprintsldn Of course if youd like to see the real sculptures do come along on one of our walks. Sign up for our mailing list and you will get a monthly list of all the walks we have coming up.