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Chiswick House, Red Velvet Room ceiling J970259 Featured Details Image

Chiswick House, Red Velvet Room ceiling J970259

CHISWICK HOUSE, London. Interior. View of the ceiling in the Red Velvet Room.
The ceiling is inset with painted panels attributed to William Kent and has usually been interpreted as an allegory of the Arts. The panels around the edge, for example, incorporate musical instruments, portrait roundels of gods and goddesses (Jupiter, Venus, Saturn, Mars, Diana and Apollo) and their appropriate Zodiac signs. In the central panel the messenger god Mercury hovers above a stone arch, below which is a group of figures with further emblems of the visual arts: Architecture is represented by a bare-chested woman with a set square and a cherub with a plan of a Roman temple, Sculpture by a fallen bust of Inigo Jones, and Painting by a woman unveiling a self-portrait of Kent.
The radical alternative interpretation of this symbolism is that it alludes to the ritual of the Royal Arch masonic lodge. Red is the Royal Arch colour, so the red velvet on the walls is symbolic, as is the red drape which is being removed to reveal Kent's portrait in the ceiling. The traditional implements of the architect and sculptor, depicted in the ceiling, are likewise masonic emblems, while the combination of an arch below a rainbow which occurs in the ceiling painting was apparently a common subject of early Royal Arch lodge banners. The suggestion, therefore, is that this room could have been designed by Burlington and Kent - both of whom were certainly freemasons - to function as a masonic meeting place

© Jeremy Young

Last respects DP177773 Featured Details Image

Last respects DP177773

Turnstall road, Brixton, Lambeth, Greater London.
The painted mural of musician and rock-star David Bowie on the north side of Morleys department store, surrounded by floral tributes and handwritten messages following the announcement of his death, with a crowd of onlookers paying their respects

© Historic England Archive

Mansion House Doncaster AA42_02596 Featured Details Image

Mansion House Doncaster AA42_02596

The Mansion House, High Street, Doncaster. A detailed view of a plaster motif in the minster gallery in the Ballroom of Mansion House. The mayoral residence was built for the Doncaster Corporation between 1746 and 1748 by James Paine, with additions made between 1801 and 1805 by William Lindley. The Ballroom was previously known as the Grand Room or the Banqueting Room, as referenced by Paine. It is sixty feet long, and thirty feet high and wide, and has an elaborate central doorway. Over the door is a minstrels gallery with a round-headed niche and balcony with bobbin balusters. The motif has a floral circle with music sheets and a string instrument in the centre, with garlands extanding from the left and right

© Historic England Archive