This statue of famed ballerina Anna Pavlova (1881-1931) is actually a replica of an original which was first installed here atop the cupola of the Victorian Palace Theatre, in Victoria Street in the West End, in 1911.
Commissioned by the theatre’s owner, Alfred Butt, it had been installed to mark Pavlova’s London debut. The ballerina, who had started her career in Russia, moved to settle in Ivy House in Golders Green in 1912 and subsequently went on to tour the world.
It is believed that the gilded statue was the work of the theatre’s architect, Frank Matcham. Larger than life-sized (although that’s hard to ascertain given its lofty position), it depicts Pavlova in a classical tutu standing on one leg in what’s known as the “arabesque” position.
The story goes that the superstitious dancer hated the idea of the statue and always refused to look at it, even pulling closed the curtains on her cab when passing.
It was removed for safe-keeping in 1939 following the outbreak of World War II but apparently lost soon after.
The replica, which was created by Hary Franchetti based on photographs, was reinstalled in 2006. The fate of the original remains a mystery.
PICTURES: Top – amateur_photo_bore (licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0); Below – David Adams.
Located in Tavistock Square in Bloomsbury, this bronze bust of writer and literary pioneer Virginia Woolf (1882-1941) was erected in 2004.
Commissioned by the Virginia Woolf Society of Great Britain, it is a copy of a bust of Woolf sculpted by Stephen Tomlin in 1931 (there is a 1953 version of the work, apparently the only 3D representation of Woolf taken from life, in the National Portrait Gallery) and was set on a Portland stone plinth designed by Stephen Barkway.
A plate on the plinth explains that Woolf, a central figure in the Bloomsbury group of writers and artists, lived from 1924 to 1939 in a house which once stood on the south side of Tavistock Square, the period when her greatest novels were written.
It also features a quote from Woolf concerning the writing of her novel To the Lighthouse – “Then one day walking round Tavistock Square I made up, as I sometimes make up my books, To the Lighthouse; in a great, apparently involuntary, rush.”
There are, incidentally, plans to erect a new life-sized, seated statue of Woolf at Richmond on the bank of the River Thames. Woolf and her husband Leonard lived for a time the riverside borough at Hogarth House (where they also ran their publishing company).
Mock-ups have been created by artist Laury Dizengremel and there is a funding appeal to raise £50,000 currently underway.
PICTURE: Maureen Barlin (licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)