Central Panel, Marmor Homericum by Baron Henri de Triqueti (1803-74). 1863-65. Marble tarsia, 9 x 6 feet. University College, London. Photograph by Jacqueline Banerjee. By courtesy of UCL Art Collections, University College London.
Near the statues of Flaxman and Locke in the south cloisters of University College is the Marmor Homericum (1863-5) by Baron Henri de Triqueti, a French sculptor best known in France for his reliefs on the bronze doors of La Madeleine in Paris (1831-41), and in England for the Triqueti Marbles in the Albert Memorial Chapel at Windsor (c.1863 onwards). Triqueti revived the older art of "tarsia," a sort of marble marquetry, in which pieces of coloured marble are cemented or even clamped onto a marble ground and then engraved to produce the finer details. The engraved lines are then in turn filled with coloured cements (Darby 35-36). The result is richly decorative. The Marmor Homericum is a large (9' x 6') composition, with Homer reciting the story of Hector's death and Andromocles' grief as its centrepiece, and four other episodes from Homer in the borders. The work was commissioned for University College by the Greek historian George Grote, who had been one of the college's founders and was now again an important member of its council, as well as being, from 1862, the Vice-Chancellor of the University of London. Grote's wife Harriet wrote in her diary for May 19th 1865:
The Marmor Homericum has been placed in position, in the cloisters of University College, and a numerous company graced the opening view. The work excited admiration both cordial and discriminating; among the visitors was the President of the Royal Academy [Millais], than whom no more consummate judge of art could be named, and he paid M. de Triqueti the compliment of saying that, "among modern artists, he alone combined a knowledge of composition and drawing, with pure sculpture." (Grote 274)
This once celebrated work rarely gets the attention it deserves.
Darby, Elisabeth. "A French Sculptor in Wiltshire: Henri de Triqueti's Panel in the Church of St Michael & All Angels, Teffont Evias." The Wiltshire Archaeological and Natural History Magazine. Vol.95 (2002): 34-45.
Grote, Harriet. The Personal Life of George Grote: compiled from family documents, private memoranda, and original letters to and from various friends. London: Murray, 1873.
Last modified 11 October 2007