Painted Fish Scale Design on William Kent Room
Ceiling, part 1
This beautiful baroque ceiling
features 200 Italianate paintings done by William Kent or one of his contemporaries
- no-one seems quite sure who is responsible for the paintings, but my feeling
is that Kent might have had a hand in it, perhaps working with Italian assistants.
Both the painting and gilding needed extensive restoration, but our job
was to reinstate the fish scale design previously painted out. The ceiling
seems to have been redecorated several times with different colour variations.
There are allegorical themes relating
to the four seasons, cherubs, deities, fauns and satyrs, and strange chimera-like
mythological creatures, half fish, half bird, half human. What is so entrancing
about the paintings is that they rendered in shades of grey against quite
striking shades of blue and red which glowed luminously after restoration.
The effect of all this is made three-dimensional by the beautiful gold heads
on the elaborate cornice, creating an atmosphere of opulent decadence.