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Graphic Visual Evidence for discussing interiors Exercise 3.4.3

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Evidence for discussing interiors Exercise 3.4.3

I will use this blog exercise to look at how we use visual figures of different types as evidence in discussions of interiors. They cover painting, architectural orthographic cross-sectional designs &an architectural (Adam) ‘elevation’.

The discussion in the text refer to the dangers of using paintings as evidence since we know that the representation of detail following design issues related to the use of a flat painted surface that always predominated over issues of mimesis. This will not be even intended as an ‘accurate’ representation.

If anything, it represents a reflection to the family of family ideology. The central placing of father and son across a ‘hearth’ records the import of family as a scheme of patrilineal ownership descent, which side-lines the wife who looks towards the men, and daughters and younger son. The son in fact sits ahead of the hearth and the hearth clearly is symbolic of the trans historical home he will inherit, together with responsibilities to family. Land is represented as an ideal in a landscape hung over the mantel.

The family circle an empty space in which the ‘conversation space’ glories but I don’t sense communion here rather the display of communication as a feature of home and a theory of intimacy, which is rather theatrical – perhaps the veneer Dickens is in the 19th C to satirise in the Veneering family. What we notice about space is its emptiness. The whole of the area of the painting above the mantelpiece excludes the figures who sit in much darker space. Light is used to emphasise the palatial space of high ceilings that almost transcends the space inhabited by temporal figures. Here is patrimony – its focus the hearth-breast.

The cross-sectional design offers evidence of the use of varied room-heights in terms of importance and ‘intimacy’ of the rooms – public rooms and staircases being central. Again a house for show with showing entrance, grand-staircase, classically decorated rooms below, fading into those with more patterned colour where women might hold some limited power -  children’s bedrooms less still with less imposing and less ‘antique’ furniture and decoration. Presumably lowly attic rooms housed servants but, as in the painting, they are present through their absence. I cannot find the ‘service’ staircase.

The Adam elevation bruits a Renaissance feel – an attempt to aggrandise English families with the effects of the palazzo. Again the hearth is very important and the breast above the fireplace with its Roman arch. Doors too are grand. One could go on.

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