Kennington and classical allusions

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St Mark’s, Kennington © David Gill

St Mark’s, Kennington was one of four churches built in London in thanksgiving for the victory at the Battle of Waterloo, opening in June 1824. The architectural style is neo-classical. The front entrance is in effect a Doric portico, but above it is an Ionic cupola. This evokes the 4th century BC choregic monument of Lysikrates in Athens (though constructed in a Corinthian architectural style).

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Monument of Lysikrates, Athens © David Gill

The front of the church is in the Doric style evoking classical buildings such as the Hephaisteion at Athens that stands above the Agora.

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St Mark’s Kennington © David Gill
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The Hephaisteion, Athens © David Gill

Victory Monument from Greece

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Victory relief now in New York © David Gill

This relief was acquired by New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art in 1959 [inv. 59.11.19]. It was first recorded by Michel Fourmont in 1729/30, and was last known in 1753. The piece surfaced in the London sale at Sotheby’s of part of the collection of Lord Hatherton in 1959.

The relief dates to the second century AD. Although the name of the individual is lost, his father was Alexander (restored, [Ale]xandrou) of the deme Rhamnous in Attica. The relief marks from left to right, victories in the Panathenaic games (showing an amphora containing olive oil), the Isthmian games (with a pine wreath), Argive games (with a shield), and the Nemean games (with a celery wreath). Brian F. Cook has suggested that a further wreath would have appeared at the left end, above the now missing personal name: Delphi and Olympia are possibilities.

The relief is a reminder how cultural property can move from one country to another passing through historic collections.

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