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!