Portraits in the Wren Library

Ten portraits hang in the Wren Library. They form part of a collection largely put together after the completion of the building in 1695. Portraits including sculpture were a recognised part of Library furnishing at that time and these paintings joined the sculptures described in an earlier blog. Most are an imposing size (over 2 …

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Thorvaldsen’s Statue of Byron

The Wren Library contains an exceptional collection of sculpture. One of the highlights is the magnificent statue of George Gordon, Lord Byron by Bertel Thorvaldsen. Byron, one of the greatest of English Romantic poets, was admitted to Trinity College Cambridge in 1805. He was at first “miserable and untoward to a degree …. wretched at …

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“… touches the very soul of anyone who first sees it”: the woodcarving of Grinling Gibbons in the Wren Library

Knowledgeable visitors to the Wren Library are quick to spot the magnificent woodcarvings which adorn pediments, alcoves, wainscoting and bookcases.  They often ask for confirmation from the Wren Attendants as to the identity of the carver and smile in the pleasure of recognition and self-congratulation at the answer they receive.  The fact that the name …

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The Painted Glass Window in the Wren Library

This blog, the next in our series describing the architecture and decoration of the Wren Library, focuses on the painted window. There are 28 arched windows in the Wren Library all the same size, 5.03 x 2.44m. The 13 that run the length of the east and west sides are in plain leaded clear and …

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The Interior of the Wren Library

Our next few blog posts will focus on aspects of the interior decoration of the Wren Library. Christopher Wren's decorative design was not followed for the original ceiling of the library which instead was unadorned. The intention may have been to add painted decoration but it was not until 1850 that the more ornamental ceiling …

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Building the Wren Library

In an earlier blog we learned how, by the seventeenth century, the existing library at Trinity was proving inadequate. The ambition to build a new library is popularly ascribed to Isaac Barrow, Master of Trinity from 1673 until his death in 1677. Barrow secured the services of his friend, architect Christopher Wren, for no charge. …

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