The Frieze of Parnassus is a large sculpted stone frieze encircling the podium, or base, of the Albert Memorial in London, England. The Albert Memorial was constructed in the 1860s in memory of Prince Albert, the husband of Queen Victoria.The frieze is named after Mount Parnassus, the favorite resting place in Ancient Greek mythology for the muses. It contains 169 life-size full-length sculptures, a mixture of low-relief and high-relief, of individual composers, architects, poets, painters, and sculptors from history. The depictions of earlier figures necessarily, were imaginary, although many of the figures were based on materials contained in a collection of artworks and drawings gathered for the purpose of ensuring authentic depictions, where this was possible.
The total length of the frieze is approximately 210 feet. The frieze was intended to be the 'soul' of the memorial, and the memorial's designer, George Gilbert Scott, stated that he was inspired by the Hémicycle des Beaux Arts by Hippolyte Delaroche. The memorial was not laid out precisely to directions of the compass, however, closely enough that the sides are referred to by direction. Musicians and poets were placed on the south side, with painters on the east side, sculptors on the west side, and architects on the north side.Henry Hugh Armstead carved the figures on the south and east sides, the painters, musicians, and poets (80 in total), and grouped them by national schools. John Birnie Philip carved the figures on the west and north sides, the sculptors and architects (89 named figures, plus two generic figures), and arranged them in chronological order.