Homer, Shakespeare, Dante by Ceccardo Egidio Fucigna (1834-84/5). Royal Holloway, University of London. Ceccardo Egidio Fucigna, who was born in Carrara, Italy, studied Renaissance art in Florence and Rome and became a member of the Academy of Ferrara. He came to England around 1860 and exhibited at the Royal Academy of Arts ten times between 1863-1879 (Bull).

Left to right: (a) Nil Desperandum [Never despair]. The bearded man at the right faces a python and a kneeling putti in back of which appear three books. On the left a putti holds up a large volume to a woman who draws a veil or cloth away from it. (b) Three caryatid putti. (c) The female figure on the right holds a scroll bearing the words Holloway College and Sanatorium. [Click on these thumbnails and those below for larger images and in some cases additional information.]

Left to right: (a) The setting of Fucigna's pedimental sculptures. (b) A three-quarter view from outside the college, designed by William Henry Crossland. (c) Inside the quadrangle facing the main entrance and clock tower. (Last two Photographs by Jacqueline Banerjee).

Fucigna's sculpture on the exterior of Royal Holloway, which employs male and female semi-nude allegorical figures, contrasts markedly with the Old and New Testament subjects in the college chapel. First of all, whereas the pedimental sculptures are in uncolored high relief, the bas reliefs in the chapel are polychromed low relief. Secondly, whereas the pedimental sculptures employ allegory in which the figures have no literal meaning, the works on the walls of the chapel all represent what most Victorian believers took to be as literally true — authentic historical events.

The Chapel interior

Left two: The creation of Adam and Eve, dome above sanctuary. Right: Moses holding up his arms in the battle against the Amelehkites, a type of Christ.

Some of the chapel scenes, such as the creation of Adam and Eve above the high altar, depict straightforward subjects from sacred history. Others, such as Moses holding up his arms during the battle with the Amalekites with the help of Aaron and Hur, take the form of biblical types that unite the Old and New Testaments, in this case transforming an event described in the Book of Exodus into a divinely ordained prefiguration of the Crucifixion. (For more on Moses and the Amalekites see the text accompanying the larger image.)

Left to right: (a) The prophet Elijah removing his cloak. (b) At John writing his Gospel., (c) The prophet Daniel, who reads the Belshazzar Fire Letters — the orginal “writing on the wall.”

Other Old Testament scenes, such as that depicting Elijah, have a more complex relation to the New Testament. This polychrome bas relief apparently depicts the scene from 2 Kings Chapter 2 when Elijah removes his mantle, which Elisha then takes, shortly before the appearance of the chariot and angels who will bear him to heaven — a biblical event combining three modes of being and signification: biblical historicity, typology, and prophecy. A third kind of scene, such the one representing St. John and his gospel, concentrates solely upon the New Testament.

Related Material

Photograph and research by Robert Freidus. Formatting, text, and perspective correction 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.]


Bull, Malcolm. “Ceccardo Egidio Fucigna”. Malcolm Bull's Calderdale Companion. Web. 1 May 2011.

Gordon, I. “The Message of Exodus — Chapters 17 Jesus our Rock and the battle with Amalek!.” Web. 1 May 2011.

Landow, George P. Victorian Types, Victorian Shadows; Biblical Typology in Victorian Literature, Art, and Thought. Boston and London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1980.

Last modified 8 March 2019