Anrep mosaics

Over the last thirty years, I have visited the National Gallery times without count, but until this week I have never looked down.  Every time I climb the stairs under the central portico I am compelled to look down Whitehall and remember the scene in ‘Twilight Barking’ (sequel to ‘101 Dalmatians’) where Pongo, Missis and all dogs of England gather to be addressed by Sirius the Dog Star atop of Nelson’s Column.  By the time I am in the entrance hall my mind is paintings not the floor.  Why I looked down this time is a mystery.  What I saw looked much like Churchill confronting some kind of monster.  Unlikely I thought and headed off to look at paintings, pausing only to take this photo.

Turns out that it is Churchill.  Subsequent research reveals that the National Gallery commissioned two sets of mosaics from Russian born Boris Anrep between 1928-33.  After the war, another set was required.  Anrep took his inspiration from modern life and so, rather than Greek Gods, he depicted contemporary people.  Churchill is one of them, seen here embodying Defiance.  Now that I have read more about the mosaics I am itching to go back to the National Gallery to look at the floor rather than the walls.  Virginia Woolf, Greta Garbo, Margot Fonteyn, they are all there.  So if the next time you visit the National Gallery and see a woman entranced by the floor, do come up and say hello!



  1. October 2, 2016 / 12:15 am

    Funny, I don’t think I’ve ever noticed this mosaic before either. Next time I’m at the NG I will keep an eye open for it.

  2. October 2, 2016 / 12:24 am

    Sounds like there is something to inspire which ever direction you look there.

  3. October 2, 2016 / 12:31 am

    What an absolutely beautiful mosaic – it was obviously created with great attention to detail x

  4. October 2, 2016 / 12:42 am

    I think this is easy to miss. It was only because it was mentioned in a study i had to do that i had to see it. Still amazes me. #mysundayphoto

  5. October 2, 2016 / 6:55 am

    Don’t you just love finding something new though, especially something as amazing as this? A fab reminder to keep looking. #MySundayPhoto

  6. sarahmo3w
    October 2, 2016 / 7:12 am

    The mosaic is fabulous! I’m wondering if I’ve ever been to the National Gallery! I think I went on a school trip when I was about 17 or 18.

  7. October 2, 2016 / 5:08 pm

    Is this at the national gallery in london? I’d love to see them all. How funny to suddenly spot Churchill on the floor!

    • Catherine
      October 2, 2016 / 7:11 pm

      It is, I thought that I was imagining the likeness but asked some questions and found that it really was!

    • Catherine
      October 6, 2016 / 10:00 am

      Certainly not with ‘seeing’ eyes, don’t why he caught my eye this time!

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