The Library of Nineteenth-Century Photography

Piccadilly Circus

Piccadilly Circus

One half of a stereoview showing pedestrians and traffic at Piccadilly Circus in 1896, with the statue popularly known as Eros in the foreground.

Unveiled by the Duke of Westminster on 29 June 1893, the monument is correctly known as the Shaftesbury Memorial Fountain. The aluminium statue which sits atop it began life as Anteros - brother of Eros and the god of selfless love - but when objections were raised that the nude figure was too sensual a memorial to such a famously sober and straight-laced figure, the title of the work was changed to 'The Angel of Christian Charity'. The name never caught on and the statue has for many years been known as Eros, the god of sensual love. The sculptor was Albert Gilbert and the model was his studio assistant Angelo Colarossi, a 16-year-old Anglo-Italian born to an Italian father (also an artist's model) in Shepherd's Bush in 1875.

The whole memorial has been removed twice in its history. Once when the new tube station was being built at Piccadilly Circus (1922-1931) and again during the Second World War. In 1985 it was resited a few yards to the east in the space between the Criterion Theatre and the former London Pavilion Theatre.

Photographer unidentified. Published by Underwood and Underwood.

Code: 126285
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© Paul Frecker 2018