N04176 MODEL FOR EROS ON THE SHAFTESBURY MEMORIAL, PICCADILLY CIRCUS . 1890
Bronze, 24×10 1/2×26 3/4 (61×26×68), on green marble base, 4 1/2×9×9 (11×23×23).
Chantrey Purchase from the artist 1925.
Lit: Hatton, 1903, pp.1–32; Cox, 1936, p.19; Bury, 1952, pp.11, 38, 44, 45, 97.
The commission for the Shaftesbury Memorial Fountain was first offered to Boehm, who declined it and recommended Gilbert. Work was begun soon after 1887 and the monument was unveiled in 1893. The expense involved led to the artist's financial ruin and his eventual departure to Bruges. A plaster model for the figure of Eros was found smashed in his studio. This was repaired by Herbert Hampton, cast in bronze and acquired through the Chantrey Bequest (see letter to Gilbert from Sir George Clausen, Bury, 1952, p.97). A replica is at Aldenham School, Hertfordshire. McAllister states (1929, p.168) that the model for this figure was Colarossi, studio boy and valet to Gilbert, and nephew of the Colarossi who established a school of art in Paris. The artist refers to the figure as follows: ‘As to the figure surmounting the whole, if I must confess to a meaning or a raison d'être for its being there, I confess to have been actuated in its design by a desire to symbolize the work of Lord Shaftesbury; the blindfolded Love sending forth indiscriminately, yet with purpose, his missile of kindness, always with the swiftness the bird has from its wings, never ceasing to breathe or reflect critically, but ever soaring onwards, regardless of its own perils and dangers’ (Hatton, 1903, p.16.). A model for the whole fountain is at Perth (repr. Cox, 1936, pl.9, and Bury, 1952, pl.10).
Mary Chamot, Dennis Farr and Martin Butlin, The Modern British Paintings, Drawings and Sculpture, London 1964, I