At the edge of Hyde Park, in Kensington Gardens, and soaring over the tree tops at its 180 foot height, the ceremonial baldachin of Albert Memorial marks the entrance to the “Albertopolis”, a quarter of museums and colleges crowned with Royal Albert Hall.
It was built during the reign of Queen Victoria, to memorialize her beloved husband Prince Albert, whom she grieved over to the end of her life. This token of love, respect or both has precedent in English history, as King Edward Longshanks built a series of elaborate Gothic Elanor Crosses in the thirteenth century. Likewise, a series of Albert memorials was built across England. While not the first one, the most exquisite of all was built in London.
The ciborium style canopy elevated on four compound piers was built in Gothic Revival, directly influenced by the Veronese Scaliger Tombs. The Corinthian capitals though, show the eclectic nature of the monument.
Known as a patron of arts and sciences and a reformer of university, the Prince Consort was immortalized as a golden figure holding the 1851 Great Exhibition catalogue. On the top of the canopy, there are sculptural manifestations of Christian virtues, while the corners of the baldachin are held by personifications of the four arts supported by historic figures ranging from antique to renaissance periods. The whole edifice is elevated on the podium encompassed by the Parnassus frieze, the highlight of the composition featuring 187 sculptures of most influential European artists hitherto.
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