07 May 2012
The Stone Menagerie no 3
One of my favourite aunts was sometimes heard to observe "Some people aren't hardly human, are they?" - but this monkey from the Entrance Hall of the Natural History Museum in London looks all too human to me! Here again I'm cheating a bit, as this is terra cotta rather than stone, but stone is definitely the effect produced, especially with its exposure to the gentle habits (and grime) of the visiting public since 1881.
The Nat Hist Mus building was designed by Alfred Waterhouse as (quote) "a cathedral of nature", so it's not surprising that I've always enjoyed its architecture, but I'd forgotten the amazing quality of the creatures that decorate it so lavishly. I was charmed to learn that Waterhouse's intricate designs, many of them with a background of foliage, were translated into their 3-D form by the not inappropriately named Monsieur Dujardin - not that there seemed to be any info about the building on display, which is sadly quite usual for London's museums. Happily the website is fairly forthcoming: