Angels with a werath of victory for a dead soldier from the memorial for employees of Prudential who died in World War I in Waterhouse Court of the Prudential Assurance Prudential Assurance Building, High Holborn, London.

This large bronze of angels bestowing the wreath of victory on a dead soldier whose body rests on the rubble of modern warfare, such as sprockets from a tank, displays its modernity — and its success as a war memorial — by its sharp contrast of the awkward legs of the corpse and the enclosing grace of the shape created by the two female angels. According to most theological commentary, angels do not have gender since they do not procreate, but by conceiving these crowning angels as such obviouslly sexualized figures, Blundstone sharply emphasizes a gender divide while conveying the idea as old as the Trojan War that men die for glory and for the sake of women. One thinks of the passage near the close of Conrad's Heart of Darkness which presents the Kurz's fiancé and other women back in Brussels as one of the many hearts of darkness.

Consider how much this beautiful momument differs from Charles Jagger's brilliant Royal Artillery Memorial with its corpse of a dead soldier fully covered by a cloth, his helment lying on his chest, Joseph Phillips's News Room War Memorial, which includes a nurse assisting a wounded man, and Sir William Goscombe John's Newcastle The Response, which emphasizes soldiers parting from the families they will die to protect. Jagger's memorial, which is surmounted by a large stone representation of an artillery piece, depicts at least some of the unglamorous realities of war in its dead soldier on one end and an exhausted one at the rear of the memorial. The massive howitzer, not a Britannia or Victory, crowns the memorial. The News Room War Memorial has two female figures — the nurse holding a wounded man and a fully clothed Britannia, and The Response emphasizes men in the context of women and children.

Photograph by Robert Freidus Commentary and formatting 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 photographer and (2) link your document to this URL in a web document or cite the Victorian Web in a print one.]

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Last modified 5 September 2009