, author: Ermakova M.

"Spirit of Ecstasy": the story of the famous Rolls-Royce figurine

From Eleanor Thornton to legend: how the goddess Nike figurine became the symbol of Rolls-Royce.

Photo source: photoby.ru

For more than a century of history, British Rolls-Royce cars have been decorated with a figurine that has become their calling card. This figurine is more than just decoration, it carries an amazing story. Known as the symbol of the goddess Nike, she has stood guard over Rolls-Royce bonnets for a century.

The creation of this famous figurine is attributed to the talent of the sculptor Charles Sykes, and the idea belongs to Lord John Douglas-Scott-Montagu, owner of The Car Illustrated. The figurine is based on the image of his close friend Eleanor Thornton. Her image was so inspiring that the Lord became the first to decorate his Rolls-Royce with the “Spirit of Ecstasy.” When the innovation was noticed by his friends Charles Rolls and Henry Royce, they were so amazed by the simplicity and beauty of the solution that they asked Sykes to develop something similar for all cars of the brand. The sculptor slightly changed the image of Eleanor and presented the "Spirit of Ecstasy" in 1911, which Royce immediately liked.

Eleonora Velasco Thornton is the prototype of the Spirit of Ecstasy figurine.

Photo source: kulturologia.ru

The figure quickly gained popularity and received many affectionate nicknames, such as "Emily", "Silver Lady" and even "Ellie in a Nightie". Eleanor herself, who became the muse for the statuette, passed away young, but her image still lives on. The appearance of such figurines on hoods became a fashion trend at the beginning of the 20th century, which was initially available only to the aristocracy and wealthy people. Subsequently, car manufacturers realized the attractiveness of this tradition and made such decorations their trademark.

Making each figurine was a labor-intensive process: the figurine was poured into a mold made of a special alloy, after which the mold was broken to remove the finished figurine. It was then carefully polished using crushed cherry pits, making each figurine unique. Some rich people ordered figurines made of silver or even gold. The sculptor Sykes personally signed the first works, making them especially valuable to collectors.

The Rolls-Royce mascot is the “Spirit of Ecstasy” figurine, which became the symbol of Rolls-Royce in 1911.

Photo source: kulturologia.ru

Despite Henry Royce's initial distrust of the idea of decorating a car with figurines, over time even he recognized the “Spirit of Ecstasy” as worthy of becoming a symbol of Rolls-Royce. However, he never installed the figure on his personal car. The love story of the Baron and Eleanor ended tragically when the liner returning them from India was torpedoed by a German submarine, resulting in Eleanor's death. Thus, the “Spirit of Ecstasy” figurine remained not only a symbol of the brand, but also a reminder of forbidden love that has survived centuries.