Friday, 19 December 2008

Central Hall

Beneath the Indian Gallery and Central Dome and surrounding Egeria's Fountain is the Central Hall. The columns are of "Cintra's choicest stone, Blue marble". The arched recesses, that at some time contained statues, stand within pointed Gothic arches. These arches have an internal decoration of gothicised vegetation forming a pierced tympanum above a secondary circular arch. The spandrels are decorated with plaster reliefs that "shine with leaf and bell Of Scotia's saucy emblem flower" (The Thistle) and above this there is a frieze of fruiting vines: "And higher, fruit and foliage fine Betray the rich, the truant vine, Luxurient trailer !"

Medievalists regarded the thistle as a fine British substitute for the classicist acanthus.

Ruskin wrote in his Seven Lamps of Architecture a description of a gothic capital containing thistle decoration that could be applied to this spandrel: "four branches of thistle-leaves, whose stems, springing from the angles, bend outwards and fall back to the head, throwing their jaggy spines down upon the full light, forming two sharp quartre- foils."

Study of a thistle - John Ruskin 1870s

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