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The Mercantile Centre, 35-69 Bothwell Street, Glasgow

Look up in the centre of Glasgow and you may find some amazing creatures inhabiting the pediments and parapets. This scantily clad lady in Bothwell Street is one of several figures and faces on this building. The four female figures represent, from left to right, Industry, Prudence, Prosperity and Fortune. If you look very carefully you will see that this one is in turn holding a model of a winged lightly clad woman on a boat with a round shield. Mythology is full of winged women and women in boats, but I am not sure what a winged woman in a boat signifies. And so, triggered by architectural adornment, we begin to ponder mythology and the hidden meanings of forms sent to us through time by Victorian architects and artists. Hardly the prudent impression we usually have of the era.

This grand commercial building was designed by James Salmon Junior and completed in 1897. Glasgow's city centre is so full of such great buildings that this one may be missed, but walking around gazing upwards, if one can simultaneously avoid other pedestrians and tripping on the kerbs, is very rewarding. This one is one of my favourites.

James Salmon frequently adorned his buildings with sculptures. Those here are by Francis Derwent Wood (1871-1926) who was also responsible for sculptures on the Glasgow Museum & Art Galleries at Kelvingrove.

British Listed Buildings website : http://www.britishlistedbuildings.co.uk/200376290-glasgow-39-69-bothwell-street-mercantile-chambers-glasgow#.WOP16Ghri00

For other Glaswegian architectural art see: https://peoplemakeglasgow.com/discover/glasgow-s-secret-sculptures


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