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.