In Greek mythology, Atlas, king of Atlantis, took part in the rebellion of the Titans against the Gods and as a result was condemned to hold up the heavens for ever. Ancient Greek sculptors took something of a liberty with the story in the interests of making a strong free-standing figure, and showed him supporting the celestial sphere on his shoulders.
Of course, this was misinterpreted in the Renaissance, when the familiar figure appeared of Atlas holding the Earth on his shoulders despite having nothing to stand on.
Here, Atlas advertised the Atlas Assurance Company. He was carved by Thomas Tyrrell for the firm of architectural masons Farmer and Brindley. He is less muscly than usual, but still succeeds in dominating that part of the street.
The building is the northern extension of the Atlas headquarters, designed by Alfred Waterhouse in 1893 in the same style as the original building facing onto Cheapside, which was built by Thomas Hopper in 1834.
Tyrrell also carved the figures on 82 Mortimer Street.
On the south side of Cheapside opposite Atlas House, there is an exceptionally attractive Mercers' Maiden high up on the wall of No 67, which dates from 1938.