The Athenæum Club, Freize, and Detail of Main Façade by Decimus Burton. 1824. Waterloo Place and Pall Mall. Photograph by George P. Landow. You may use these images without prior permission for any scholarly or educational purpose as long as you (1) credit the Athenæum and (2) link your document to this URL in a web document or cite the Victorian Web in a print one

The statue of Athena is by E. H. Baily, 1829; spear added later (p.195) John Henning's frieze above Athena (1829). According to Ian Jenkins,

The Henning frieze, being a copy of the frieze of the Pathenon, is . . . more than a mere ornament. Democratic Athens, that ancient "School of Hellas," had been declared the model of a new London. The heroes of Marathon and Salamis were a paradigm for the victors of Waterloo and Trafaolgar. Parliamentary considerations of whether or not to purchase the Elgin marbles for the nation was interrupted by the Battle of Waterloo. The eventual decision to acquire them was directly influenced by the idea that, just as the Parthenon had once commemorated Athen's victory over the Persians at the Battle of Marathon, so now its sculptures would commemorate England's triumph.

The Athenæum's replica of the Parthenon's frieze, carved by the Scottish sculptor John Henning (1771-1851) and his son John junior (1802-57), is perhaps more famous than Decimus Burton's Greek Revival building itself. [p. 149]

Jenkins describes the sculptor's early acquaintance with the Parthenon friezes, which had just arrived in London in 1811, and his discussion in The Athenæum Collection contains both a detailed history of the frieze's creation and many illustrations.

References

Tait, Hugh, and Richard Walker with contributions by Sarah Dodgson, Ian Jenkins, and Ralph Pinder-Wilson. The Athenæum Collection. London: The Athenæum, 2000. [This volume may be ordered from the Librarian, The Athenæum, Pall Mall, London SW1Y 5 ER.]


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Last modified September 2001