Eros

Nuggets – bite size chunks of London


Eros

 

Eros is the pop­u­lar name for the wingèd archer in the cen­tre of Pic­cadil­ly Cir­cus. A memo­r­i­al to the 7th Earl of Shaft­esbury, it is the work of Sir Alfred Gilbert (1854–1934) and was unveiled in 1893.

There has nev­er been an offi­cial name for the wingèd fig­ure specif­i­cal­ly. The entire instal­la­tion was orig­i­nal­ly called the Shaftes­bury Memo­r­i­al Foun­tain, and lat­er became known sim­ply as the Shaftes­bury Memo­r­i­al when the foun­tain was decom­mis­sioned.

Accord­ing to Wikipedia, “Although the stat­ue is gen­er­al­ly known as Eros, it was cre­at­ed as an image of his broth­er, Anteros.” This is non­sense (and the sole sup­port­ing cita­tion is the noto­ri­ous­ly fal­li­ble QI Book of Gen­er­al Igno­rance). It’s true that Alfred Gilbert him­self made this claim at one point, but it was one of var­i­ous con­flict­ing state­ments that the sculp­tor made about the inspi­ra­tion for the stat­ue some years after the work had been com­plet­ed and installed. Gilbert seems to have come up with the Anteros after­thought as one of his many attempts to jus­ti­fy his work in the face of pro­longed (at times rabid) crit­i­cism from late-Vic­to­ri­an moral­ists. The same motive applied to Gilbert’s ret­ro­spec­tive sug­ges­tion that the stat­ue rep­re­sent­ed ‘the angel of Chris­t­ian char­i­ty’.

At the time the work was installed, no one was in much doubt that the fig­ure was Eros rather than Anteros or any oth­er alter­na­tive char­ac­ter, and the same view is held by the over­whelm­ing major­i­ty of knowl­edge­able author­i­ties today. The City of West­min­ster always calls the stat­ue Eros or the Eros mon­u­ment.
 
Eros