The eleven heads of Al Saqi

This remarkable 1880s neo-Romanesque building at 26 Westbourne Grove, W2, is the premises of Al Saqi Books, specialising in Middle Eastern literature. But before that it was clearly built as a bookshop, for it is ornamented with stucco portrait heads of poets, and possibly of other writers. The identities of some of them are obvious; others less so.

If you have any idea about who is shown in the unidentified portraits, please comment on the link at the bottom of this page.

The three between the arches on the ground floor seem to be, from right to left:

1. Milton

2. Shakespeare

3. Spenser – I suppose

There are no portraits on the first floor. Damage to the arches just above the capitals suggests there there may have been metal medallions attached to them which have now come off.

The four heads on the second floor are:

4. Unknown – seems to be wearing a quilted dressing gown, a 19th century garment

5. Queen Victoria

6. Prince Albert

7. Unknown – could be Alexander Pope

The four on the third floor are:

8. Unknown – is that an Elizabethan ruff?

9. Unknown

10. Perhaps Homer?

11. Certainly Dante

Any suggestions would be most welcome.

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