The globe-trotter of Triton Court

I recently mentioned Triton Court (see A city ramble) and the figure who stands upon the globe at the top of the tower. Here is a reminder:

Triton Court, Finsbury Square, City Road
Triton Court, Finsbury Square, City Road

From the ground it is difficult to see any detail in the figure though with the naked eye you can see that his right arm is raised. I suggested, though not seriously, that he was waving at the passers-by. Apart from that, it’s not possible to see who he is supposed to be. For that you would need a more powerful lens (binoculars or a camera with a zoom lens).

It looks like Mercury
It looks like Mercury

I do have a long lens but I hardly ever take it with me, making do with the standard lens on the camera that can “zoom” to about 3.2 times. Using that, I took the above picture, cropped it and then ramped up the contrast and the sharpening.

I think we can now see that the figure is in fact Hermes, in Greek mythology the messenger of the gods, who is more often these days given his Roman name, Mercury, and taken as a symbol of communications but also of trade and travel.

The attributes of Hermes/Mercury are the winged helmet and the caduceus, the staff with two snakes twined around it. I think we can make these out in the picture.

According to the London Encyclopaedia, the bronze Mercury was made by James Stephenson and first exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1929. I haven’t yet managed to find out anything more about this artist or whatever works he might have produced.

And to me, Mercury still seems to be waving… 🙂

Update March 10th 2011

The sculptor of Mercury or Hermes was in fact James Alexander Stevenson (not Stephenson) who lived from Oct 18 1881 to Oct 5 1937. He signed his works “Myrander”, a combination of this wife’s name and his own middle name.

Many of his works are still extant, including two tritons on Triton Court, the Askari Monument in Dar es Salaam and a bronze head entitled Imperator in the Tate Britain.

Copyright © 2011 SilverTiger,, All rights reserved.

About SilverTiger

I live in Islington with my partner, "Tigger". I blog about our life and our travels, using my own photos for illustration.
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2 Responses to The globe-trotter of Triton Court

  1. WOL says:

    Either waving or saluting — Looks like he is looking down, too, which seems odd for such a statue. Being Mercury, I’d expect him to be looking up, ready to take off. The winged sandles thing, though. I’ve always wondered how those would work.


    • SilverTiger says:

      Yes, I forgot about the winged sandals. Gods don’t need actual working devices so the winged helmet and sandals are simply symbolic, rather like the the stumpy little wings of cherubs which would never lift those chubby lumps off the ground if they had to rely on the laws of physics alone.


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