William Shakespeare’s play ‘7 ages of man’ is the inspiration for this 22-foot high cast aluminium Sculpture, on Queen Victoria Street, Blackfriars by Artist Richard Kindersley
The seven ages of man according to William Shakespeare in his play ‘As You Like It’, Act 2 Scene 7
‘All the world’s a stage’, by William Shakespear
And all the men and women merely players;
They have their exits and their entrances;
And one man in his time plays many parts,
His acts being seven ages. At first the infant,
Mewling and puking in the nurse’s arms;
And then the whining school-boy, with his satchel
And shining morning face, creeping like snail
Unwillingly to school.
The Post office Commissioned this sculpture in 1980, outside one of the British Telecom buildings, Baynard House. They based the sculpture on the Seven Ages of Man poem that William Shakespeare wrote.
“All the World’s A Stage”, the beginning of Shakespeare’s’ monologue in his play “As you like it”.
According to Shakespeare’s play, life evolves through several stages, from infancy to the grave. The Totem Sculpture depicts this journey starting at the bottom with a figure of infancy. As you progress up the column body clock takes effect and takes you on a journey
Stage 1 Infancy
The helpless baby, the very beginning
Stage 2 Schoolboy
The formal education phase
Stage 3 Teenager
The growing into adulthood
Stage 4 Young man
The bold and fearless soldier, a risk-taker and growth
And then the lover,
Sighing like furnace, with a woeful ballad
Made to his mistress’ eyebrow.
Then a soldier,
Full of strange oaths and bearded like the pard,
Jealous in honour, sudden and quick in quarrel,
Seeking the bubble reputation
Even in the cannon’s mouth,
Stage 5 Middle-aged
The wise and experienced adult, making a name for himself, prosperous and respected, enjoys the finer things of life, like good food.
And then the justice,
In fair round belly with good capon lined,
With eyes severe and beard of formal cut,
Full of wise saws and modern instances;
And so he plays his part. The sixth age shifts
Into the lean and slippered pantaloon,
With spectacles on nose and pouch on side;
Stage 6 Old Man
The look and behaviour of an old man, less influential
Stage 7 Dotage and death
The end cycle, mind and health decline
Possible inspiration of ‘7 ages of man’
The 7 ages of man, mirrors the 7 deadly sins. Juvenal the Roman poet wrote about the whole of Greece is a stage and every Greek an actor. The Play Damon and Pythias written around 1564 by Richard Edwards, referred to the world is a stage and people playing their parts. But there are more connections the Latin words quod fere totus Mundus exercet histrionem – mean ” because almost the whole world are actors.” It was a 12th century saying. It was on a sign at Shakespeare’s Globe theatre and also has a connection to the Roman courtier Petronius.
‘7 ages of Man’ depicted in oils
King Henry the V had a tapestry with the 7 ages of man. An artist by the name of Smirke painted a series of paintings based on the seven ages of man 1798-1801. They comprised the Infant, Schoolboy, Lover, Soldier, Justice, Pantaloon, Old Age In 1838 another painting by William Mulready.
The ‘7 Ages of Man’ Totem pole type sculpture is in the courtyard of Baynard House, owned by BT Group. William Holford’s Brutalist designed building stands at 3 stories tall, the height dictated by legislation that protects the sightline of St Pauls Cathedral from certain directions on the compass. It derives the Building’s name from Baynard Castle, which once occupied the site. The name also lends itself to the ‘Castle Baynard Ward’. Baynard house was also the film location for Mission Impossible 6
We can find it on Queen Victoria Street on the way towards Blackfriars.