In the UK the 'Spirit of Ecstasy', or in the US: 'The Flying Lady', is the hood ornament on the front
of a Rolls-Royce car. Its form is that of a female leaning forwards - as if in flight - or about to ascend.
Her arms are outstretched behind her and 'meld' into her rippling garment (perhaps an Athenian
peplos ?) that resemble wings.
Claude Johnson The managing director of Rolls-Royce commissioned English sculptor Charles Robinson Sykes
to create a design that conveyed dignity, grace and speed.
Although we have various stories and opinions as to the original inspiration for the figurine. She is most obviously
the symbol of speed and excellence that Rolls Royce implemented to glamourise their range of automobiles.
This brief then was to evoke a 'spirit of mythical beauty'. Nike, in the Louvre was the original inspiration
for this sculptural grace. Also the powerful archetypal representation of speed, unrivalled excellence that
leads to victory in all things, in this case peerless engineering, and just the image Rolls Royce projected.
She was a great success.
Now we have a fabulous example of classic antiquity influencing the premier car manufacturer of the 20th Century.
The symbol of crowning excellence. Rolls Royce certainly 'got it' when they sculptured the figurine. A mascot that
had real blue blood (Olympian in this case).
The Engineers' Titanic Memorial
The Titanic Engineers' Memorial is located in Southampton (England). It is dedicated
to the bravery and heroism of the Titanic engineers who lost their lives when the Titanic
sank on 15 April 1912. The memorial stands in East (Andrews) Park surrounded by trees.
This granite and bronze memorial (officially a Grade II listed building) was erected by fellow engineers and friends
of the Titanic engineers. Originally unveiled on April 22, 1914, by Sir Archibald Denny, president of the Institute
of the Marine Engineers to a crowd of almost 100,000 people.
The bronze statue of the Winged Goddess Nike dominates the centrepiece and was created by Trieste-born sculptor
Romeo Rathmann. Carved (relief) panels to either side of Nike represent the engineer officers of the ship
who died in the disaster of 2012.
The memorial was substantially restored in 2010.
Nike and War
War memorials have an ancient pedigree, indeed one of the most famous in history comes
form Hellas. The Greek victory over the Persians at the Battle of Thermopylae in 480 BC
set a standard that we have inherited today, especially to commemorate armed conflict.
That we should turn to the world of classical antiquity to symbolise and confirm Victory, to commemorate
the dead and console us for our lost and wounded says a lot about humanity.
That we adopted Nike as a symbol of victory and later as the feminine icon of peace is astonishing. Nike's image
was by now adapted into Christianity. But also separate from it historically. Nike now had a dual nature, one as
the symbol of victory in war. Secondly in Christian iconography as a heaven sent ministering angel of peace
over the glorious dead and wounded.
Throughout the UK you will find Nike represented as a symbol of Victory. Also as an Angel of peace. Towns and
villages from Chichester to Manchester. World wide - Canada, the USA - as well as central Europe have all erected
statues of Nike on memorials to commemorate those lost in conflict. Our gallery (left column) is a selection of war
memorials in the United Kingdom.
Nike is still with us - from over two and a half millenia ago shows how important a role she still has in the life
of humanity, and will always have to us.
200th anniversary of the battle Waterloo.
A new memorial commemorating soldiers who died in the Battle of Waterloo was unveiled in 2015 at London
Waterloo station. The memorial was created, funded and installed by The London Mint Office. The centrepiece
of the memorial displays a replica of the Waterloo campaign medal, created in bronze depicting Nike - Greek
goddess of victory.
The Waterloo campaign medal was originally commissioned to be presented to all soldiers present at the battle
of Waterloo, irrespective of their rank.
Above: The display and setting of the memorial inside Waterloo station, located on the upper concourse.