An Alphabet of Allegorical Sculpture - F is for Fame

Figure of Fame by John Bacon the Elder.

Statues of Fame may be mortal or an angel, and while usually female, may be depicted as a male. Accoutrements are most commonly a long trumpet, to blow the triumphal notes, or the crown of success in the form of a laurel wreath. This first Fame (accompanied by Genius in a group on Somerset House), by Bacon the Elder, is a typical figure whose pose would not be out of place in a picture by Sir Joshua Reynolds.

A little along the road is this one, by W. Reid Dick, evoking the same spirit three generations later, with a splendid angel seated atop the globe, energetically blowing on her trumpet.

Fame by W. Reid Dick.

Lanteriís Fame, high up on the front of the V&A, carries her laurel wreath, and has a sunburst headpiece, and also carries a sheaf of corn. Rather a serious than energetic Fame, this one, which is fitting given its place on the museum which recognises Fame only through exceptional merit in arts and craftsmanship.

Lanteri's Fame, with sunburst.

Fame need not be a just reward, but a temptation leading us astray, as suggested by the group below left by Lucchesi, The Mountain of Fame, where a male and female figure strive to reach the laurel crown, or below right in this panel by Stirling Lee, one of a series along the side of St Georgeís Hall, Liverpool, showing Justice in her Purity (the central nude) Refuses to be Diverted from the Straight Path by Wealth and Fame. Fame is the figure on the right with a sprig of laurel, and a few leaves almost unnoticed in her hair.

Fame as temptation.

We end with another Fame in Liverpool, the excellent and evocative angel by C. J Allen surmounting the Queen Victoria Memorial. With both trumpet and wreath, she is about to leap aloft into flight from the summit of the monument, and has an epic quality wholly desirable for the subject.

Summit Fame for the Queen Victoria Memorial, Liverpool.

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