Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool, with the statues of Raphael and Michaelangelo, and the frieze.
William Brown Street presents a whole row of 19th Century classicism, facing towards the ultimate classical temple of St George’s Hall, covered on a separate page.
The Walker Art Gallery itself, with its big Corinthian portico, dates from 1874-77, and is the work of the architect Cornelius Sherlock. The very worn stone statues of Michaelangelo and Raphael are by J. Warrington Wood. There is also a summit figure representative of Liverpool, rather better preserved, in white stone, or perhaps some manmade material. She carries a trident and has a small phoenix next to her and is, I believe, also by Warrington Wood.
The wings of the building have small sculptural friezes, unsigned, rather processional in nature.
To the right of the Walker, as we face it, and a the top of the row, is the County Sessions Court, a blocky cube of a building, dating form 1882, by F. and G. Holme. It has a grand portico bearing four pairs of Corinthian pillars, and more engaged columns around the building. The sculptural adornments are mostly modest, but include a large coat of arms in the pediment, with the central crowned emblem flanked symmetrically by two dogs holding feathers. Above the central door are a pair of kneeling atlantes.
The round building next door to the left of the Walker Art Gallery as we look at it, with another fine row of Corinthian columns, is the Picton Reading Room, by the architect C. Sherlock, and dating from the mid-1870s. Next to it, the largest and oldest building in the row, the William Brown Library and Museum, now renamed the Liverpool Museum, by Thomas Allom, 1857-60. The fine two storey portico, raised up on steps, represents a missed opportunity for sculptural adornment.
The lefternmost, lowest down the hill building in the group, occupying a corner site, it is also the latest in date, completed only in 1902. The architect was E. W. Mountford.
As in other buildings by Mountford, the exterior is happily adorned with sculpture. There are two pediments, each with a pyramidal group of five figures, and below each, a blind arch with two full figures reclining in the spandrel positions.
One pediment has central Britannia, with to the right, Knowledge as an ancient philosopher teaching a boy, with a globe and lamp of discovery filling the corner, and to the left perhaps Nurture, with a peasant girl with her hand protectively on a little girl’s shoulder, as she feeds one of two sheep. Beneath, the reclining figures are a semidraped woman, statuesque in proportion, representative of Navigation, with ship’s wheel and a navigational device in her hand; and Agriculture as a noble figure with scythe and corn. The other pediment is concerned with shipping; a crowned Britannia central, with slightly lowered figures of girls to left and right, and a boy making a steamer ship to the right, and a canoe to the left. Behind, a Liver bird is noticeable. The spandrel figures, an old man with a globe and a young woman with a ship, again allude to Liverpool’s global maritime reach.
Round the corner to the left, a side entrance, with no pediment, but retaining the pair of spandrel figures, this time two athletes, mostly unclad, holding respectively a compass and a retort, and a mirror and a sculpture of a man. Conceivably Science and the Arts. In front of the steps on this side, two lampholders in bronze, with small statues of girls surmounting them, which are, I believe, by the New Sculptor F. W. Pomeroy. One wears a tunic and holds callipers and a gyroscope or small planisphere, the other wears a gown with heavy sleeves, and holds a book. Fishy, cherubic and other ornaments on the stands below.
Lampholder figure by F. W. Pomeroy.
Between the Walker and St George’s Hall, by the base of the Wellington column (by A. G. Walker, summit statue noted on St George’s page) stands a large and ornate fountain, with a plaque noting it was presented to Liverpool by Lieut. Col. R. F. Steble in 1877. On the top, a twin-tailed mermaid. Around the base are four life-sized figures, semidraped, comprising two girls and two men, one of which is of a Neptunelike character. Grotesque heads on the bowl and base complete the ensemble. Nice work, by the ironfounders W. T. Allen and Co of Lambeth Hill.
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