Wisdom, Fortitude, Charity and Faith
Carved in profile with simplified details and set in bold relief against plain shallow backgrounds all stylistically typical for the period, the figures are cut sharply into the broad flat frames. This device emphasises the compressed space of the relief and complements the sharp outline and arrestingly white façade of the building. It also underlines the emblematic purpose of the four Virtues, the personifications of those qualities intended to be seen as synonymous with insurance. Wisdom is shown with an owl and the tree of life, whilst holding papers; Fortitude holds abroad sword; Charity protects a child; and Faith is represented with a flame and hands in prayer.
This building was designed in 1931 in a severe classical style by S. N. Cooke, (1) with whom Bloye worked with from the early 1920s, and probably on whose recommendation he received this commission. Bloye also advised on the design of the main entrance, with its travertine pilasters banded with black marble. (2) Begun in early 1932, the building was complete with its panels before September. (3)
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