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Description of the photograph
Title: Piccadilly Circus memorial fountain with Anteros
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Piccadilly Circus is a famous road junction and public space of London's West End in the City of Westminster, built in 1819 to connect Regent Street with the major shopping street of Piccadilly. In this context, a circus, from the Latin word meaning "circle", is a round open space at a street junction.

Description:

At the southwestern side of the Circus, moved after World War II from its original position in the centre, stands the Shaftesbury Monument Memorial Fountain, erected in 1892-1893 to commemorate the philanthropic works of Lord Shaftesbury, who was a famous Victorian politician and philanthropist.

The monument is topped by Alfred Gilbert's winged nude statue of an archer, sometimes referred to as The Angel of Christian Charity and popularly known as Eros after the mythical Greek god of love. The statue has become a London icon: a graphical illustration of it is used as the symbol of the Evening Standard newspaper and appears on its masthead.

The use of a nude figure on a public monument was controversial at the time of its construction, but it was generally well received by the public. The Magazine of Art described it as "...a striking contrast to the dull ugliness of the generality of our street sculpture,... a work which, while beautifying one of our hitherto desolate open spaces, should do much towards the elevation of public taste in the direction of decorative sculpture, and serve freedom for the metropolis from any further additions of the old order of monumental monstrosities.".

The statue was the first in the world to be cast in aluminium and is set on a bronze fountain, which itself inspired the marine motifs that Gilbert carved on the statue.

The statue is generally believed to depict Eros but was intended to be an image of his twin brother, Anteros, as confirmed by the contemporary records of Westminster City Council. The sculptor Alfred Gilbert had already sculpted a statue of Anteros and, when commissioned for the Shaftesbury Memorial Fountain, chose to reproduce the same subject, who, as "The God of Selfless Love" was deemed to represent the philanthropic 7th Earl of Shaftesbury suitably. Gilbert described Anteros as portraying "reflective and mature love, as opposed to Eros or Cupid, the frivolous tyrant." The model for the sculpture was Gilbert's studio assistant, a 16-year-old Italian, Angelo Colarossi (born 1875).

Where Anteros originally pointed his bow is the subject of two urban myths. The first is that the archer is aiming up Shaftesbury Avenue. Sometimes, the story goes that this was a visual pun to commemorate the great philanthropist. If the archer were to release his arrow, its shaft would bury itself in Shaftesbury Avenue. The other is that the arrow is pointing to the Earl's country seat in Wimborne Saint Giles, Dorset. However, the 1896 photographs (on this page) of the circus taken only three years after the statue's erection clearly shows the arrow pointing in a different direction, down Lower Regent Street aptly towards Parliament. This is proven by the position relative to the statue of Shaftesbury Avenue, the London Pavilion and the Criterion Theatre.

When the memorial was unveiled, there were numerous complaints. Some felt it was sited in a vulgar part of town (the theatre district), and others felt that it was too sensual as a memorial for a famously sober and respectable Earl. Some of the objections were tempered by renaming the statue as The Angel of Christian Charity, which was the nearest approximation that could be invented in Christian terms for the role Anteros played in the Greek pantheon. However, the name never became widely known, and the original name came back, erroneously under the shortened form Eros, signifying the god of sensual love; quite inappropriate to commemorate the Earl, but just right to signify the carnal neighbourhood of London, into which Soho had developed.

Keywords: Amor, place, city, statue
Image data
Image sizes: 999*1500px, 679kb
Origin: Scanned from analog paper print
Date/Time: 19970508-130000
Camera:
Destination coordinates;WGS84 LONG -0.134550333023°, LAT 51.509879302°
Author: Alexandra Medwedeff
Photo copyright: This photograph is copyrighted (©) by André M. Winter and others. A free permissions for re-use may be given for non-commercial purposes. Commercial use requires a license. Contact André M. Winter for any kind of use. This extended copyright notice applies in all cases. Infringements always will be persecuted worldwide. Legal court: Innsbruck, Austria, E.U.
Text copyright: The description of this photograph (or parts of) is based on this article of the free Wikipedia encyclopedia and are covered by the GNU Free Documentation License (GFDL). Authors are named on the Wikipedia page.
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