The Eros statue is a familiar sight to many, standing proudly above a fountain in the bustling Piccadilly Circus. However, few may know the true story behind this iconic statue. Despite its seemingly simple appearance, the Eros statue holds a rich history and many intriguing secrets.
From its origins to its symbolic meaning, there are many fascinating facts to discover about the Eros statue. Whether you’re a London local or a curious tourist, delving into the history of this iconic landmark is sure to be an enlightening experience.
- 1 15 Things You Never Knew about the Eros Statue
- 1.1 First of All, It’s Not Actually a Statue of Eros
- 1.2 It Stands on Shaftesbury Avenue, Which is Also Named After the Earl
- 1.3 It’s One of London’s Most Famous Sculptures
- 1.4 There was a Fair Bit of Controversy About the Statue When it was Unveiled
- 1.5 The Fountain Broke New Ground
- 1.6 And the Design Was Flawed
- 1.7 There are a Number of Theories about The Meaning of the Missing Arrow
- 1.8 Gilbert Lost Money Making the Statue
- 1.9 Its Full Name is The Angel of Christian Charity
- 1.10 It’s Been Shuffled Around Like a Jack in the Box
- 1.11 It Used to Sit Closer to the Centre of Piccadilly Circus
- 1.12 It Was Modelled on a Real Person
- 1.13 The Statue Was the First Cast Aluminium Statue in the World
- 1.14 It Was Once Made in to a Snowglobe
- 2 The Eros Statue: Practical Information and Tips
- The Eros statue is more than just a familiar landmark, it holds a rich history and many intriguing secrets.
- From its origins to its symbolic meaning, there are many fascinating facts to discover about the Eros statue.
- Whether you’re a London local or a curious tourist, delving into the history of this iconic landmark is sure to be an enlightening experience.
15 Things You Never Knew about the Eros Statue
First of All, It’s Not Actually a Statue of Eros
The iconic statue located at Piccadilly Circus in London is widely known as the Eros statue, but it is not a statue of Eros, the god of erotic love. In fact, it is a statue of Anteros, the god of selfless love and Eros’ sibling. The statue was created in 1892-1893 to commemorate the works of Anthony Ashley Cooper, 7th Earl of Shaftesbury, a philanthropist who worked towards abolishing child labour and ensuring children were educated in its stead.
It Stands on Shaftesbury Avenue, Which is Also Named After the Earl
The statue is located at one end of Shaftesbury Avenue, which was named after the Earl of Shaftesbury.
It’s One of London’s Most Famous Sculptures
Despite being often overlooked by busy Londoners, the statue is one of London’s most famous sculptures. It is located in Piccadilly Circus, an iconic London landmark, and is represented on the masthead of the Evening Standard newspaper. Additionally, there are replicas of the statue in Liverpool, Blackpool, and the Adelaide Art Gallery in Australia.
There was a Fair Bit of Controversy About the Statue When it was Unveiled
When the statue was unveiled, it sparked controversy due to its location in a seedier part of town and the fact that it depicts a nude boy. Some people believed that the statue was an inappropriate way to commemorate the Earl of Shaftesbury’s works, while others saw it as a cheeky nod to the naughty side of surrounding areas like Soho.
The Fountain Broke New Ground
The Eros statue was built in 1892-1893 and was ground-breaking in the materials it used. The statue was built of aluminium, which was an uncommon material for sculptures at that time. The base of the statue is made of bronze, which was a more traditional material for sculptures.
And the Design Was Flawed
The design of the statue was flawed because the base was too narrow, causing water to splash everywhere and make the ground around it muddy. Additionally, the statue was designed with cups chained to the base for people to drink out of, but the cups were quickly stolen after the statue was unveiled.
There are a Number of Theories about The Meaning of the Missing Arrow
Anteros is depicted in the statue as readying himself to pull a missing arrow, but the meaning behind this is unclear. Some people believe that the missing arrow has been buried on the road before the statue, while others believe that it points to the Earl’s family home in Wimborne St Giles. However, in its original position, the statue pointed in a completely different direction, down Lower Regent Street.
Gilbert Lost Money Making the Statue
Alfred Gilbert was paid £3,000 to create the statue, but it actually cost him £7,000 to produce, largely due to the expensive base. The expense left him heavily in debt, and he had to flee England and his debtors, resulting in a 25-year stint living in Belgium.
Its Full Name is The Angel of Christian Charity
The statue’s full name is The Shaftesbury Memorial Fountain, but it is commonly known as the Eros statue. It was originally intended to be called The Angel of Christian Charity, but the name never stuck.
It’s Been Shuffled Around Like a Jack in the Box
The statue has been removed several times throughout history. It was moved in 1922 when the new Piccadilly Circus station was built, and again in 1939 for the Second World War. In the 1980s and 1990s, it was moved for restoration purposes.
It Used to Sit Closer to the Centre of Piccadilly Circus
After it was moved in the 1920s for the construction of the new station, the statue was repositioned on a new base away from the center of the circus on its return.
It Was Modelled on a Real Person
The statue was modelled on a 16-year-old Anglo-Italian named Angelo Colarossi, who was Gilbert’s studio assistant. Angelo also appeared with his father in Frederick, Lord Leighton’s famous piece, And the Sea Gave Up the Dead Which Were in It.
The Statue Was the First Cast Aluminium Statue in the World
The Eros statue was the first cast aluminium statue in the world, which was a ground-breaking achievement at the time. Aluminium’s lightweight nature allowed the statue to be perched at the jaunty angle we know so well.
It Was Once Made in to a Snowglobe
In 2013, the statue was turned into the centerpiece of a giant snow globe during Christmas celebrations around Piccadilly
The Eros Statue: Practical Information and Tips
The Eros Statue is a public art piece that can be visited at any time without any admission fee. Visitors can easily locate the statue by following the signs in Piccadilly Tube Station that lead to the nearest exit. It is important to note that crowds are expected on weekends, and street performers are often present in the pavement space in front of the statue. Visitors should be prepared for these crowds and plan accordingly.