QUIS SEPARABIT - or: some European 20th century history in a nutshell.
The two Art Nouveau caryatides decorate the entrance of the building Cockspur Street 14-16, just by Trafalgar Square.
The building was commissioned by the German "Hamburg America Line" (exactly the HAPAG = Hamburg-Amerikanische Packetfahrt-Actien- Gesellschaft) in 1906. Cockspur Street was the home of all great shipping lines then - with the HAPAG being the No. 1 worldwide and winning the Blue Riband for the fastest transatlantic passage several times in the first decade of the century.
Everything changed with the Great War: The building was seized as enemy property and served as a recruiting office for the British Army.
In 1917, it was sold to the British shipping line P&O. P&O commissioned the two bronze caryiatides above the entance of the booking hall, the right one symbolizing Britannia (easily identified by the Three Lions on the shirt, though no Jules Rimet is gleaming), the left one "The East". Between them, you find the motto of P&O: QUIS SEPARABIT ("Who will separate us?" - a term of with a sad double meaning this days.)
Later, the building was the home of the London branch of the Royal Bank of Scotland. You can still spot remnants of the name on the facade - or simply google it, you'll find a lot of pics with the signature.
Since 2012, the building serves as the Embassy of Brazil.
I shot this picture from a tour bus in summer 2013, so please excuse the mediocre quality. But I think the history of the building is worth it. And again all hail to the internet, which made my research possible - I didn't have a clue about the story when I rediscoverd the pic by chance on my hard drive some weeks ago.
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