Monday, 28 August 2017

Knole and Numbers

One of the books I read while we were in France was Inheritance, by Robert Sackville-West. It could easily have been called Disinherited, as many of his stories included those less fortunate than himself. He doesn't own Knole, but he is entitled to live there, which is probably a much better deal in these modern times.

I ran across his description of the great stairwell that made reference to Maarten de Vos (or Maerton deVos) and scribbled it down, so pleased to have found it.

I have already mentioned that Knole is thought to be, or at least to have been, a Calendar House; they are apparently fairly rare. 

One of the other things I remembered was reading (or was it hearing?) some guide leaflet/recording about all the decorations of the Grand Staircase. One of the main things was a nude statue underneath the stairs of a ballerina who had been a long term lover of one of the Sackville-Wests. Her story is well-covered in the book, but I think the statue was buried in the basement for quite a while after the wife came along.

The decoration of the actual stairwell includes carvings and paintings concerning the four seasons (easy enough); the five senses are easy, too, even if I had to think about it and count on my fingers. (If you don't have a 'gratitude list' for your 'down' days, I recommend you write one and put each of those senses on it.)

I Googled the heck out of Maarten de Vos and didn't find much, but it does look as though this 16th Century Flemish painter had a large influence on subsequent artists. According to deVos there are Four Stages in the life of Man: Amor (Love), Labor (Work), Honor (Achievement?) and Dolor (Pain). Gosh, I'm really looking forward to getting old after winkling out the definition of 'Dolor'. He did paintings of each of these, but the ones at Knole are by a later painter.

Also according to the stairwell (and a few other sources) there are Seven Virtues. I had the impression at the time these were carvings on the banister or newel posts, but I never figured it out, there is so much going on in a relatively small space. 

In looking all these things up, I ran into some odd words. 

According to painter Brueghel (Pieter the Elder), the Seven Deadly Sins are:

Pride, Avarice, Lust, Envy, Gluttony, Wrath and Acedia

The last word apparently means apathy or sloth.

When looking for the 7 Virtues, I found reference to 

Wisdom, Justice, Charity, Faith, Hope, Fortitude and Temperance

but also to 'Liberality' and Sapientia (which translates as Prudence)

Wikipedia / The Bible has : Chastity, Temperance, Charity, Diligence, Patience, Kindness, Humility

I would guess 'Liberality' goes in line with 'Kindness', perhaps Fortitude with Patience and/or Diligence. However, I note that the arts don't give much attention to 'Chastity', or 'Humility' for that matter. 

The visitors' information provided at Knole pointed out that the artwork on the Great Stairs did not include the virtue of 'Temperance', a funny little thing which is probably why I remembered all this to begin with.

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