The legendary statue of Eros, the God of Love, can be found rising majestically from a fountain in Piccadilly, and is one of London's most famous attractions. The fountain on which Eros stands is constructed out of bronze, but Eros himself is actually made of aluminium, which was, at the time, a very rare and contemporary material! He was created by the sculptor Alfred Gilbert RA, who used the fountain base as an excuse to add fish and other sea-life to the sculpture, and was unveiled in 1893 as a memorial to the philanthropist Lord Shaftesbury. As a result, the monument is sometimes referred to as 'The Shaftesbury Monument'.
The Magazine of Art (which ran from 1878-1904) had these fond words to say about the magnificent Eros -
'a striking contrast to the dull ugliness of the generality of our street sculpture, ... should do much towards the elevation of public taste in the direction of decorative sculpture, and serve freedom...from any further additions of the old order of monumental monstrosities.'
Sadly, the statue did not remain pure and untouched for long, and by August 1893, just months after its unveiling, its beauty had already been marred by vandalism. Eros has unfortunately suffered many misfortunes and tribulations over the years, including the entire figure of the statue being bent when a drunken pedestrian attempted to climb it in 1994. Since then, it has been lovingly renovated, and now once again retain pride of place as one of London's most popular sculptural emblems.