Saturday, January 11, 2014


When I was in England in October, I went to Trafalgar Square to visit St Martin-in-the Fields Church and the National Portrait Gallery. The square was crowded with people, and there on one of the plinths was a new sculpture, and I thought, "What's with the big blue rooster?" Turns out the bird is a cockerel, a young male.  The cockerel sculpture, by German artist, Katharina Fritsch, is not a permanent fixture but will remain in its place of honor for 18 months. The big bird gave me a laugh, and when I went to Wikipedia for more information, I had another good laugh.
It was unveiled on 25 July 2013 by Mayor of London Boris Johnson. He pointed out the irony that the cockerel, an unofficial national emblem of France, was standing in a square commemorating a famous British victory over the French. Fritsch has said that she was unaware of the connection until it was explained to her. According to Fritsch, she chose the cockerel to represent strength and regeneration, "but it's a nice humorous side-effect to have something French in a place that celebrates victory over Napoleon. He has come back as a cockerel!" Johnson said in his speech that "I hope French people will not take it as excessive British chauvinism – but for me it stands for the recent British triumph in the Tour de France, which we have won twice in a row … it is a symbol of French sporting pride, brought like a chicken to London. We have mounted this French cock at the heart of our imperial square."
My picture of the blue cockerel sculpture in Trafalgar Square made me nostalgic for England. My friend Richard said the view down Whitehall to Parliament is one of the best, and I happened to snap the view while I was there.  In the distance, to the left of the Nelson column is Big Ben.

On the left is the well-known Horatio Nelson column topped by the statue of the great hero of the Napoleonic Wars.  The square is named after the Battle of Trafalgar, in which the British won the victory, but Nelson was killed.

Unfortunately, this picture shows the statue of Nelson and the equestrian figure of King George IV from the rear.  I believe I took the photos from the porch of the National Gallery.

On the right is the National Gallery museum of art, which I did not visit during my last trip.  I did pop in at the National Portrait Gallery around the corner, which is smaller and more manageable, to have another look at Jane Austen's portrait by her sister Cassandra and other treasures in the museum.


Russ Manley said...

Wonderful snapshots, and the cock statue is amusing. I was about to say something about the ignorance of the young - the artist having no idea that the cock is a symbol of France - but I see from the Wiki article that she is nearly as old as I am! Still, you'd think living in Germany all her life, not half a world away in Texas like me, she would have come across the notion at least once.

I spent an all-too-brief week in London when I was 21, and remember fondly sitting in Trafalgar Square, feeding peanuts to the pigeons on a sunny afternoon. Alas, I must admit that I was so clueless in my own youth that it never occurred to me to step into either of the galleries a few yards away from me there! I'm not even sure I knew what those buildings were, though I should have, since I traveled with two guidebooks. Pity - they must be wonderful to wander though, as you did.

Russ Manley said...

PS - I see there is a sotto voce understanding that the Fourth Plinth is being reserved for an equestrian statue of HM the Queen one day. That seems an excellent idea to me.,_Trafalgar_Square

Grandmère Mimi said...

St Martin-in-the-Fields Church is another treasure you wouldn't want to miss if you went back to Trafalgar Square. I have pictures of the interior which I think is beautiful, and I will post them one day. The very first time I heard change-ringing live was from St Martin. In the midst of the crowds and hustle and bustle of the square, it's hard to imagine that St Martin was actually once in the fields.

Grandmère Mimi said...

Queen Elizabeth is much more deserving of a spot on the 4th plinth than is George IV, who was a sorry monarch, indeed. Because of Elizabeth's well-known love for horses, hers could be an equestrian statue, too.