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.




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