Thursday, July 7, 2016
I am revisiting the terracotta roundels of poets featured in my previous post, because a reader has raised an interesting question, one that had also occurred to me. He asks whether these three roundels, showing busts of Milton, Shakespeare, and Tennyson, were mass produced, and whether if that was the case, they appear on any other buildings. I don't know the answers to these questions. Architectural terracotta decorations certainly were made in quantity – as were the flower motifs that flank the roundels on this very building. However terracotta panels were also made as one-offs and I wonder which was the case here. So I'm illustrating the roundels of Milton (above) and Shakespeare, to go with the Tennyson shown in my earlier post, in the hope that they may jog some reader's memory. Has anyone seen these somewhere other than St Stephen's Street in Bristol? If so, I'd be fascinated to hear from you. The comments section is easy to use via the link below.
I previously noticed that the bust of Shakespeare had almost the look of a Romantic poet of the 19th century. He's certainly rather downcast, and the locks are wilder and more flowing than the poet's hair in the familiar Droeshout portrait in the First Folio, in which he is also slightly fuller of face and looks us straight in the eye. Perhaps this Bristolian bard is more the Shakespeare of Henry Irving than of Heminges and Condell, the actors who put together the First Folio and created the poet's most familiar image.