Sunday, July 31, 2011

Passage to Africa III - Stowe (Part I)

I suppose Mr. Temple-Grenville didn’t tell the missus that there might be a small possibility of bankruptcy should they choose to lavishly entertain Queen Victoria, Prince Albert and entire entourage, at their home, Stowe Palace. Unfortunately, this was soon realized and led to the ‘Great Sale’ in 1848.

Prior to this, in an attempt grow their political ambitions the family had refurbished and reinvented the house and gardens over a period of 150 years. Dukedom was finally bestowed upon them in 1822 – that of Buckingham and Chandos.

The original house was designed as the principle temple in the landscaped gardens, which reveal forty-two smaller monuments – an architectural ode to Greek and Roman Classicism at its finest and created by the finest sculptors and architects of the 18th century. There’s the Temple of British Worthies, the Corinthian Arch, and Fane of Pastoral Poetry, to mention a few — each more exquisite than the one before.

There are simply no words to describe how it feels to see Stowe for the first time. It is undoubtedly the most glorious estate I have ever been to. And to think it was almost demolished in 1923… had it not been for the creation of Stowe School. The very first headmaster, JF Roxburgh, was convinced that every pupil who attended this fine school (past Stoics such as David Niven and Richard Branson) would “know beauty when he sees it all his life.”

It was a privilege to stay there and I feel positively envious that my nephew has Stowe to wake up to every morning — the animated sounds of boys and girls breathing life into the corridors once more. Personally, I would be quite content just polishing the vast front steps…

Stowe School

Detail from stained glass window in the chapel

Queen Elizabeth I (from The Temple of British Worthies)
Detail of fireplace/mantel in the Library

Ceiling - Blue Room

Marble busts in the Library

Detail of a tomb in the Chapel - so poignant

Temple of British Worthies

Thomas Gresham (Temple of British Worthies)

Gothic Temple (and someone was living there - swoon)
All images by Craig Strydom and Philippa Berrington-Blew

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Passage to Africa II

Oxford for three and a half hours - barely scratched the surface...

Monday, July 25, 2011

Passage to Africa I

A photo essay of our journey...

 Chichester Market Cross - Chichester, England

Thursday, July 21, 2011

An Old Stoic for a Night or Two?

Never thought I would be so excited to go back to boarding school. But this is somewhat different. My dear nephew is getting married at Stowe (where he teaches economics), and we are staying in one of the school houses. This is no ordinary institution, however. Very Brideshead RevisitedI cannot wait to whip out my camera...
Incidentally, while I am away, the blog will morph into a travelogue of sorts. I won't bore you with the nuts and bolts of the trip, but promise an interesting image at least once a day.

All images from here, and further info here

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Through the Looking Glass (XII)

The twelfth in the Through the Looking Glass series of photographs.

Palazzo Gangi from here

Jewel Tone

Somewhat partial to Amethysts...

From here

Monday, July 18, 2011

Forced Perspective

Francesco Borromini's Perspective Colonnade was built in 1660 as an amusement for the courtyard of the Palazzo Spada. Assisted by a mathematician, this is a fascinating example of an optical illusion in which diminishing rows of columns and a rising floor create the visual impression of a gallery 37 meters long (in reality, it barely measures 8 meters) with a life-size sculpture at the end of the vista. Believe it or not, the sculpture is only 60cm high. In fact, it is so low-ceilinged at the far end, that only a child could stand upright...

Photographer Danilo Scarpati
Photographer Rita Gram

Palazzo Spada

Photographs from here, here and here

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Through the Lens of LIFE

Sometimes, from beyond the skyscrapers, the cry of a tugboat finds you in your insomnia, and you remember that this desert of iron and cement is an island.  - Albert Camus

The Head of the Statue of Liberty on display at the World Fair in Paris, 1878

Liberty's Crown, 1950

Hanging out of the windows of the crown, 1952 (Margaret Bourke-White)

Pennsylvania Station, 1943

Harlem, 103rd Street

Thrill-seekers ride the 300-foot parachute jump at Coney Island
Famous Times Square Camel Ad (that belched smoke)

Queen of the Sea

Grand Central Terminal

Opening Day of the Empire State Building (Samuel H. Gottscho, 1931)

From the Brooklyn Bridge (Paul Himmel, 1950) 

Block by block grid system (Margaret Bourke-White, 1939)

A film still from Taxi Driver - Bob De Niro and Martin Scorsese, 1976
All images from LIFE