Friday 3 May 2013

Conservation complete!

The west wall of the Painted Hall, that elaborate dining room at the heart of Greenwich's Old Royal Naval College, is now unveiled. After a conservation programme which saw it shrouded in scaffolding - and allowed the public behind the scenes - the newly rich, vivid colours of this baroque artwork are once more revealed.While the main hall remains as impressive as ever, the additional glow of the restored area at its end is striking. 

It was fun to spot areas previously seen up-close from the scaffold - and to see once more how they fitted into the wider scheme. 

The decoration is rich with references designed to flatter the royal family and remind others of their and the nation's achievements. Some of these are subtler than others: you don't need to be able to decode the work's symbolism to understand the point of a scroll listing naval victories!

However, while the main theme is the glory of Britain and its rulers, there are also tributes by the artist James Thornhill to himself. He appears in the foreground, presenting his work. 

Above him is St Paul's Cathedral. While his patrons may have appreciated its royal connections and impressive appearance, it also - by a happy coincidence - featured one of his other major works. Thornhill had painted the scenes from the life of St Paul inside its famous dome.

After yesterday's official unveiling, the Painted Hall is now showing off its west wall to the public once again.

1 comment:

Graham said...

Wonderful! And he was Hogarth's father-in-law and (I think) mentor of course.