sir james thornhill

If you’ve been to Oxford you’ll probably have noticed the statues of the Muses which sit on top of the Clarendon Building:

Designed by Nicholas Hawksmoor, it was built in 1712-1713 to be the home of @oupacademic until we took it over. In 1717 Sir James Thornhill designed and made nine lead figures of the muses to be installed on its roof.

In Greek mythology the nine muses were ethereal beings who protected the arts, but that wasn’t enough to save them from the Oxfordshire winds. Because the statues were not secured properly, the muses Euterpe - representing music and song - and Melpomene - representing tragedy - fell and shattered.

The missing muses were not replaced until 1974, when fibreglass replicas were made by Richard Kindersley from the original drawings.

We tied them down.

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Sir James Thornhill. The West Wall of the Painted Hall, depicting George I surrounded by his family, the future George II standing beside Naval Victory, and the self portrait of the artist. ca. 1707-1727.

Wall painting.

Old Royal Naval College. Greenwich, London, UK.