Frieze of the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge

Frieze of the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge by Sir Charles Lock Eastlake (1793-1865). Installed 1840. Photograph and text Jacqueline Banerjee. [You may use this image without prior permission for any scholarly or educational purpose as long as you (1) credit the photographer and (2) link your document to this URL.]

The figures represented on the frieze are those of Apollo and the nine muses, designed by the artist Charles Lock Eastlake and executed under his supervision by William Grimsell Nicholl. Interesting as an example of Eastlake's own sculptural design, and as proof that the future President of the Royal Academy and first Director of the National Gallery had more than a theoretical understanding of this art (see Read 14), it adds greatly to the effect of the Fitzwilliam's exterior. No doubt it owes much to the long period Eastlake spent in Rome as a young artist. The muses seem quite artlessly and fluidly grouped, five on the left and four on the right. Though one or two of the figures seem appropriately self-absorbed, they are skilfully linked by turn of head, angle of arm, and of course the pleasing triangular composition. A lively Pegasus rears and paws the air behind Apollo in the middle.

Other Views


Pevsner, Nikolaus. The Buildings of England: Cambridgeshire. Harmondsworth: Penguin, 2nd ed. 1970.

Read, Benedict. Victorian Sculpture. New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 1982.

Robertson, David. "Eastlake, Charles Lock (1831-1906)." The Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Online ed. Viewed 26 July 2008.

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Last modified 24 July 2008