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The Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool, designed by H. H. Vale and Cornelius Sherlock. Built 1874-77, with the financial backing of the brewer and benefactor Andrew Barclay Walker. Facing St. George's Hall at an angle, the gallery is one of the most distinguished of this group of impressive neo-classical buildings on William Brown Street.

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The Steble fountain by Paul Leinard (unveiled 1879) stands on the cobblestoned road outside ("The Wellington Memorial"), and two badly weathered but still striking limestone statues, Michelangelo and Raphael by John Warrington Wood (1839-1886), sit either side of the main entrance. Relief panels over the windows depict royal involvement with the city, and above the pediment is a 1996 marble replica of Wood's original "Spirit of Liverpool." This features a crowned and laurel-wreathed female figure carrying a trident, with the emblematic Liverbird, a ship's propeller and a cotton bale as part of the weighty ensemble — all symbolic of Liverpool's sea-trading history; however, she also has a "painter's palette, a compass and a set-square at her feet" ("Spirit of Liverpool") so that art and architecture are included amongst her accomplishments.

Not overwhelmingly large, the gallery itself is nevertheless "generally accepted as one of the country's best provincial art collections" (Lewis 107), with an especially fine showing of Victorian artists in its three Nineteenth-Century Art rooms. Rossetti, Millais, Leighton, Watts, Herkomer and others are all represented here. There is also a fine Sculpture Gallery with a particularly good selection of works by John Gibson, whose Tinted Venus is the centrepiece here. Many incidental items, like a hall chair by Pugin, also make the gallery very appealing.

Other Views


Lewis, David. Walks Through History: Liverpool. Derby: Breedon, 2007.

"Spirit of Liverpool" (a National Conservation Centre site). Viewed 13 Junbe 2009.

"The Wellington Memorial (1861-3) and The Steble Fountain"

Last modified 5 June 2015