15 April 2015

A Victorian Dream Palace

After the maximum number of online renewals, it is almost time to take all 507 text pages of John Piper, Myfanwy Piper, Lives in Art back to the library - only 56 pages left to read! It's been a great help having the ipad handy to look up people and especially artworks mentioned in the book. Harlaxton Manor, for example, which John painted at an unspecified date and made screenprints of in 1977  -
Harlaxton, 56 x 77 cm, edition of 100 (via)
Harlaxton Through the Gate, 715 x 534 mm (via)
The book mentions it in the chapter on John's editorship of the Shell Guides and his abiding interest in topography and the English sense of place. In 1977 he exhibited works based on grandiose late nineteenth-century architectural fantasies under the title "Victorian Dream Palaces and Other Buildings in Landscape", the building of which had peaked a century earlier, and many of which were struggling to survive.

Harlaxton Manor, near Grantham, Lincolnshire, "much pinnacled and encrusted, rises dramatically on the horizon as the visitor heads down the dead-straight, mile-long drive" -
"This exuberant pseudo-Jacobean pile, built in 1837, owes its continuing life to American money, for it became a European campus for Stanford and now [2009] belongs to the University of Evansville." Also, it's available as a fairytale wedding venue - the internet provides many photos of draped, sashed, and bowed chairs set ready in the chapel, which need not concern us further. Back to the art...

"Its improbable, fairytale quality was still further enhanced by John's decision to paint it an unnatural, near turquoise blue, using a tube of new paint which Winsor and Newton had sent him to try out."
oil on canvas, 42"x 72" (via)
The Tate gives the dimensions of the "blue" screenprint in its collection as  5846 x 1016 mm -
Harlaxton (Blue), screenprint (via)
The blueness in the online images varies greatly!

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