Sunday, 14 August 2011
Corinthia Hotel, Northumberland Avenue WC2
The restoration of the building included the cleaning of these two lovely figures in the spandrels of the arch over the former front door (the main entrance is now round the corner). They are by Henry Hugh Armstead, a sculptor who began his career as a silversmith.
Both figures represent London. On the left is the City, a queen in classical garb holding a winged staff in her right hand. She used to hold a torch in her left but it seems to have disappeared. Behind her loom Big Ben and the dome of St Paul's.
On the right is Old Father Thames brandishing a trident and holding his urn, from which the river perpetually springs. A swan swims at his feet. Behind him can be glimpsed the White Tower and a ship.
The underside of Bertie's bay window is decorated with a lively frieze of water babies playing with hippocampi.