Figurative, Abstract, Classical

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The apparition of Joel Shapiro’s suspended sculpture ‘Verge’ hovering since November 2008 between the (soon-to-be-completed) paired facades of the architect Eric Parry’s 23 Savile Row, London calls to mind the placing of Sir Joseph Epstein’s ‘Madonna and Child’ (1953) on the new bridge between the paired facades (prior to 1771) that served as the Convent of the Holy Child in Cavendish Square a few hundred yards to the north. Both sculptures, despite their differences of idiom and attitude to meaning and representation, share the material weight of cast bronze. But above all they complement the classical backdrops against which they sit – sober, versatile, eternal.

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Sir John Summerson speculated in a footnote in his seminal ‘Georgian London’ that the grand columns and pediments of the Cavendish Square buildings were a fortuitous exploitation of building materials already prepared and on site for an earlier (1743-56) but abandoned project for the Society of Dilettanti.

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