Sir Alfred Gilbert, R. A. (1854-1934)


White metal

Height: 4 l/2 inches

Birmingham City Museums and Art Gallery

Inscribed underneath the base:” by ALFRED GILBERT RA MARQUESS OF SLIGO

Richard Dorment's authoritative catalogue entry in Victorian High Renaissance, the catalogue of the 1978 exhibition, points out that this work is "an enlargement of the statuette held” by the little girl in casts of An Offering to Hymen of 1884-6, and the one on the breastplate on some casts of St. George of 1894-6. The pose of Anteros is that of Icarus of I884, but with the following changes: here the wings are bigger and grow from the shoulders; the child puts one finger to his lips; and with the other grasps slivers of metal bound together to form a palm branch like the one flourishing in the hand of Gilbert's Victory of 1887.

Iconographically, of course, this is Anteros, the god who soars above the Shaftesbury Memorial Fountain in Piccadilly Circus, and the embodiment, in Gilbert's words of 'reflective and mature love, as opposed to Eros or Cupid, the frivolous tyrant.' He is thus an allotrope of the same figure on the Clarence Tomb, the Macloghlin Memorial, and the Leeds Chimneypiece" (p. 181).