A Memphis Mystery: Where Were These Mosaics Displayed?

photo by Lea Holland

My pal Lea Holland has presented me with a mystery, and I thought I'd ask my half-dozen readers for their assistance in solving it.
She writes: "I have the job of restoring two mosaics that have been displayed at Memphis College of Art for many years. I'm told they were done by Thorne Edwards, revered ceramics teacher at MCA, possibly in the 1950s or '60s. They were left outside for many years, and have suffered greatly from the elements. MCA donated them to Loeb Properties for placement at the new Overton Square garage.
"I would love any information you could find on the mosaics, especially dates and identification. Were there other panels? As a diptych, they don't match very well. The harlequin figure on the left is a nice generic identification, but who is the priestly type on the left?  The best guess I have is a general Babylonian priest."
A few days later, she provided some additional information about the figures:
"I've come up with a reasonable guess at the identification of the priestly fellow. The olive wreath, beard, and robes seem to indicate a priest of Apollo of ancient Greece, of which the most famous priest is Chryses, part of the Trojan War myth told by Homer in the Iliad. His outstretched arms suggests the moment in the story when Chryses prays to Apollo to make Agamemnon return his daughter Chryseis. Apollo sends a plague through the Greek armies until Agamemnon releases the girl. Very exciting moment.
"Of the Harlequin, I can't find much more than his definition as a comic character in commedia dell'arte, usually masked, dressed in multicolored, diamond-patterned tights, and carrying a wooden sword or magic wand.
"Thanks for helping me hunt for more information on these mosaics!
Okay, everyone please take a good look at these figures and then put your thinking caps on. Note their boxlike wooden frames. Lea and I agree they were probably part of a set, since it doesn't make sense (to us) to have just these two seemingly unrelated characters. But does anyone remember seeing them displayed or mounted anywhere — in a restaurant, perhaps? I forgot to ask her about their size, but large or small they are so colorful they would be hard to miss — or forget. Let me know if anything comes to mind.
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Most Popular

Rare Photo: Gladys Presley's Original Gravesite at Forest Hill Cemetery — Mother of Elvis Presley

2012.11.18 08:47 PM

A 1911 View of Broad Avenue in Memphis

A 1911 postcard offers a rare view of Broad Avenue before it was annexed. Look closely and you’ll see a hog hanging outside an old-timey grocery store.
2015.06.25 11:49 AM

Lost Memphis: Wolf River Bathing Beach

The beaches and sandbars of the Wolf River attracted Memphis swimmers and sunbathers in the early 1900s.
2015.06.17 11:09 AM
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Related Stories

Lost Memphis: Lauderdale Industries

Readers have asked Vance, “How did your family make its money?” Well, here’s how.
2015.07.01 11:31 PM

A 1911 View of Broad Avenue in Memphis

A 1911 postcard offers a rare view of Broad Avenue before it was annexed. Look closely and you’ll see a hog hanging outside an old-timey grocery store.
2015.06.25 11:49 AM

The Mulford Mansion: Then and Now

Vance Avenue is a street of ghosts. Not a trace remains of one of this city’s nicest homes, the residence of jewelry store owner John Mulford.
2015.06.22 12:02 PM

Add your comment:
Edit Module

Buy the Ask Vance Books

Edit ModuleShow Tags

Famed Memphis trivia expert Vance Lauderdale answers reader questions weekly here on his blog!

About This Blog

Ask Vance is the blog of Vance Lauderdale, the award-winning columnist of Memphis magazine and Inside Memphis Business. Vance is the author of three books: Ask Vance: The Best Questions and Answers from Memphis Magazine's History and Trivia Expert (2003), as well as Ask Vance: More Questions and Answers from Memphis Magazine's History Expert (2011) and Vance Lauderdale's Lost Memphis (2013). He is also the recipient of quite a few nice awards, the creator of several eye-catching wall calendars, and the only person we know with a vintage shock-treatment machine in his den. 

You can find him from time to time in the pages of the Memphis Flyer and MBQ, on WKNO television, and on Facebook. When he is not exploring the highways and byways of Memphis, he spends his time sleeping, napping, and dozing.

Got a question for Vance?  Email him here.

Find Vance's old blog posts (pre-April 2011) and comments here.

Be Vance's friend on Facebook:  facebook.com/vancelauderdale

Recent Posts



Atom Feed Subscribe to the Ask Vance Feed »

Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags