Opaque glass mosaic, designed by William Blake Richmond, executed by Messrs Powell of Whitefriars, completed by 1896
Adam and Eve open the series of mosaics along the run of the entablature of the quire. According to Forrest Browne, Richmond initially considered using these flat, rectangular spaces for mosaics depicting a procession of saints and angels, “but the scale was too small and the idea was finally abandoned.” As a result, the mosaics of the entablature are among the most daring and successful of Richmond’s scheme: they celebrate the theme of the Creation, so boldly laid out in the saucer domes, further.
Brief description: rectangular mosaic depicting Adam in the nude seated between a lion and a lioness against a background of scrolling foliage in red and black colours; Adam’s right rests on the back of the recumbent lion to his left, while the lioness crouches at his feet; the lion looks intently at Adam, who in turn looks out of the mosaic towards the central crossing; a frieze of classical meander an wave running along the base of the mosaic.
Genesis 2:19-20: “So out of the ground the Lord formed every beast of the field and every bird of the air, and brought them to the man to see what he would call them; and whatever the man called every living creature, that was its name. The man gave names to all cattle, and to the birds of the air, and to every beast of the field; but there was not found a helper fit for him.” (NRSV)
Browne 1896, p. 18: “The great rectangular panels above the organ, corresponding to those in the original sanctuary bay which represent not very adequately or clearly the sea giving up its dead, are among the finest designs and the most brilliant pieces of work as yet placed in the Choir. On the north side is Adam in Paradise, with a lion and a lioness. The lioness is licking his toe with her tongue. It is permitted to record that the attitude is that of a favourite cat of the artist, who performs this ceremony every morning as he steps out of the bath. On the south is Eve, with magnificent tigers; accompanied by peacocks, and a lyre bird in full song.”
Related work elsewhere: William Blake, Adam naming the Beasts
Literature and references: Browne 1896, p. 18; Zech 2015, pp. 26-27 ill.