Wednesday, April 23, 2014

The Painted Hall, Greenwich

How is it I'd never been to the Painted Hall in Greenwich (longitude = 0) until a few weeks ago?

Ok, London is big, too big to see everything, and the phrase "painted hall" doesn't really sell it. It could mean anything - I mean, my hall is painted, whose isn't.

You could see how me aged 8 or me aged [deleted] might think "I've seen the Cutty Sark / Ellen McArthur presentation / Turners / whatever .... now's the time to go for an ice cream / beer / get the train home".

But I'd watched one of those Dan Snow TV history programs, probably the one about Royal Navy, in which he'd shown us around, waving his hands while the camera panned over the absolutely incredible oil paintings (above, below and yesterday) so this time I thought I'd have a look.

And golly what an impressive scene. To call it simply the Painted Hall is a bit like calling the Taj Mahal just a tomb.

Seriously designed to impress it was found to be too grand for the original purpose, namely where the Greenwich Pensioners would eat their meals.

It really should be used to make foreign dignitaries to the court of George I feel about the size of a mini-fig as they bow before a royal party and look up to see this:
Here, according to this excellent guide, you can see the triumph of Peace and Liberty over the forces of Tyranny. In particular:

Enthroned in heaven are King William and Queen Mary. Above, the sun god Apollo sheds his light, while Peace, with her doves and lambs, hands an olive branch to William. He in turn hands the red cap of liberty to the kneeling figure of Europe. Below William’s foot, clutching a broken sword, is the defeated French ruler, Louis XIV.

Take that, les froglegs!

The Spanish get their turn too, as there are men-of-war at either end, one:

a captured Spanish galleon, full of booty, at the east, while to the west the Blenheim, a British man of war, has gun ports open ready for action.

Rule Britannia! etc

There's nothing halfhearted about the statement here and you can see it would be the right place for Nelson's body to lie in state before his funeral.

It's free, so if you're in Greenwich and, like me, haven't actually been in then you have absolutely no excuse to popping your head in the door and then gawping upwards going O! M! G!


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