175th Anniversary of the Office of Public Works || Weaving Heaven and Earth

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<ul><li><p>Irish Arts Review</p><p>Weaving Heaven and EarthAuthor(s): Mire ByrneSource: Irish Arts Review (2002-), Vol. 23, 175th Anniversary of the Office of Public Works(2006), pp. 18-21Published by: Irish Arts ReviewStable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/25503512 .Accessed: 11/06/2014 08:53</p><p>Your use of the JSTOR archive indicates your acceptance of the Terms &amp; Conditions of Use, available at .http://www.jstor.org/page/info/about/policies/terms.jsp</p><p> .JSTOR is a not-for-profit service that helps scholars, researchers, and students discover, use, and build upon a wide range ofcontent in a trusted digital archive. We use information technology and tools to increase productivity and facilitate new formsof scholarship. For more information about JSTOR, please contact support@jstor.org.</p><p> .</p><p>Irish Arts Review is collaborating with JSTOR to digitize, preserve and extend access to Irish Arts Review(2002-).</p><p>http://www.jstor.org </p><p>This content downloaded from 188.72.96.190 on Wed, 11 Jun 2014 08:53:40 AMAll use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions</p><p>http://www.jstor.org/action/showPublisher?publisherCode=iarhttp://www.jstor.org/stable/25503512?origin=JSTOR-pdfhttp://www.jstor.org/page/info/about/policies/terms.jsphttp://www.jstor.org/page/info/about/policies/terms.jsp</p></li><li><p>'I' </p><p>2 </p><p>Weaving MAIRE BYRNE discusses the treasured 17th-century </p><p>Since the purchase of Farmleigh by the Irish </p><p>Government in 1999, the OPW has been the </p><p>custodian of a rare set of 17th-century Italian </p><p>embroidered wall hangings. Currently on loan </p><p>from the Guinness family, the four panels form an inte </p><p>gral part of the interior decoration in the dining room </p><p>at Farmleigh. The iconography of the panels reveals that </p><p>the panels were once part of two larger sets. Most inter </p><p>estingly a matching panel exists in the collection of the </p><p>State Hermitage Museum in St Petersburg. </p><p>Measuring approximately fourteen feet by nine feet, </p><p>these large hangings portray mythological subjects. </p><p>Each of the four panels depicts a god in a chariot viewed </p><p>from a terrace through a decorative architectural </p><p>framework. The terraces are populated with creatures </p><p>that in some cases are associated with the god shown </p><p>above. Three of the mythological figures are readily </p><p>identifiable as the gods Venus, Jupiter and Saturn </p><p>through a number of conventional attributes sourced in </p><p>ancient classical literature and formally established in </p><p>the writings of Cesare Ripa (cl 560-1625). </p><p>Venus, goddess of love (Fig 5), is seated in a chariot </p><p>drawn by a pair of doves. She carries the three golden </p><p>apples awarded to her by Paris and a quiver of arrows, a </p><p>reference to her son Cupid, a minor god of love. A pair </p><p>of lovers forms a charming vignette on the rear of her car </p><p>riage. On the terrace a rabbit and two pigeons symbolise </p><p>fertility and love, characteristics associated with Venus. </p><p>A youthful Jupiter stands in a chariot drawn by </p><p>eagles (Fig 7). He carries a staff and thunderbolts, </p><p>emblems of his supreme authority as god of gods. The </p><p>hog on the left of the terrace refers to mythology sur </p><p>rounding Jupiter who was suckled after birth by a sow, </p><p>the sow and the hog becoming sacred to Jupiter there </p><p>after. The creature on the right is most likely an ostrich </p><p>although its association with Jupiter is uncertain (Fig 6). </p><p>Saturn is depicted conventionally as a bearded elderly </p><p>man in a chariot drawn by a pair of winged dragons. The </p><p>scythe in his left hand refers to the mutilation of Uranus </p><p>by his son Cronus, the Greek god identified with Saturn </p><p>(Fig 2). The child in his right hand refers to the story of </p><p>how Saturn/Cronus devoured his children in order to </p><p>prevent them challenging his authority in the future. </p><p>This content downloaded from 188.72.96.190 on Wed, 11 Jun 2014 08:53:40 AMAll use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions</p><p>http://www.jstor.org/page/info/about/policies/terms.jsp</p></li><li><p>175 OPW </p><p>The Office of Public Works Oifig na nOibreacha Poibli </p><p>Heaven and Earth Italian wall hangings currently on display in the dining room at Farmleigh </p><p>The graphic signs or sigils that appear above the </p><p>heads of the gods in the Venus, Jupiter and Saturn pan </p><p>els are enormously significant. Those on the Venus and </p><p>Jupiter panels are the conventional astrological sigils </p><p>familiar to us in modern astrology and associated with </p><p>the planets of the same name. The more obscure sigil </p><p>accompanying Saturn has been traced in an alchemical </p><p>text published in Nuremburg in 1701. It symbolises </p><p>lead, the metal associated with Saturn.1 Since the </p><p>Middle Ages astrology and alchemy were closely linked, </p><p>and the sigils denoting the planets and their associated </p><p>metals were interchangeable. The crossover between </p><p>these disciplines explains the use of this particular sigil </p><p>on the Saturn panel. Again the writings of Cesare Ripa </p><p>are essential in interpreting meaning in the panels. His </p><p>Iconolog?a of 1593, the illustrated version of which was </p><p>published in 1603, quickly became the preferred icono </p><p>graphical handbook for artists in the 17th century. </p><p>Ripa requires that the correct astrological sigil be </p><p>included in representations of the planetary gods. The </p><p>appearance of these sigils on the embroideries confirms </p><p>the subject matter of the panels as the Carri dei Sette </p><p>Pianeti and suggests that the panels were part of a larg </p><p>er set depicting the Triumphs of the Seven Planetary </p><p>Gods - </p><p>Venus, Jupiter, Saturn, Mercury, Mars, Apollo </p><p>(the sun) and Diana (the moon). </p><p>The link between the iconography of the Farmleigh </p><p>panels and Ripa's Iconolog?a is even more apparent in </p><p>the identification of the goddess in the fourth panel </p><p>(Fig 1). A bejewelled black female, wearing a headdress </p><p>formed from the trunk of an elephant, rides in a char </p><p>iot drawn by a pair of lions. She holds a cornucopia in </p><p>her right hand and a scorpion in her left. A snake curls </p><p>out from behind her right arm. This goddess reflects </p><p>all of the elements prescribed in Ripa's own woodcut </p><p>for a personification of Africa, as one of the Four Parts </p><p>of the World. It seems that the Africa panel was origi </p><p>nally part of another set depicting the Four Parts of the </p><p>World, a popular theme in late 17th-century art. </p><p>The Farmleigh panels were purchased at auction in </p><p>April 1874 by Edward Cecil Guinness (1847-1927), 1st </p><p>Earl of Iveagh. This sale at Christie, Manson ck Woods </p><p>in London consisted of an important collection of </p><p>decorative objects from the Madrid palaces of the </p><p>Marquis Jos? de Salamanca y Mayol (1811-1883). A </p><p>noted businessman and politician, Salamanca had pur </p><p>chased the Palacio de Vista Alegre on the outskirts of </p><p>Madrid from the Spanish royal family in 1859. Maria </p><p>Cristina of the Two Sicilies (1806-1878) constructed </p><p>this palace in 1833 when she became Queen Regent </p><p>after the death of her husband King Ferdinand VII </p><p>(1784-1833) of Spain. A cloth label, found at Farmleigh in 1999, records information provided by the 1st Lady </p><p>Iveagh, Adelaide Maria Guinness (1844-1916), con </p><p>cerning the embroidered panels. It notes that they came </p><p>from the collection of Queen Maria Cristina of Spain </p><p>at the Palacio de Vista Alegre, Madrid. This suggests </p><p>that the embroideries were in the royal collection when </p><p>Salamanca purchased the palace in 1859. By the end of </p><p>the 1860s severe financial difficulties led to the sale of </p><p>Salamanca's extensive art collections that included, as </p><p>well as the Farmleigh embroideries, five of the six paint </p><p>ings from the series of The Prodigal Son by Murillo </p><p>(1618-1682) now in the National Gallery of Ireland.2 </p><p>The catalogue for the Salamanca sale in 1874 in </p><p>London records that Edward Cecil paid a total of 289 </p><p>guineas for the panels which he sent to be hung in </p><p>Farmleigh around 1880.3 The sale catalogue also </p><p>included a further panel in the planetary set, described </p><p>as depicting Apollo in a chariot drawn by four horses. </p><p>This panel was purchased under the name of </p><p>'Armytage' for seventy-six guineas. It is not known </p><p>whether the Apollo panel is extant, however, its exis </p><p>tence in 1874 again indicates that the Apollo, Venus, </p><p>1 Africa </p><p>2 Saturn </p><p>3 Farmleigh </p><p>All photos of the </p><p>Farmleigh Embroideries by Gillian Buckley </p><p>3 </p><p>OPW 175TH ANNIVERSARY EDITION | </p><p>19 </p><p>This content downloaded from 188.72.96.190 on Wed, 11 Jun 2014 08:53:40 AMAll use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions</p><p>http://www.jstor.org/page/info/about/policies/terms.jsp</p></li><li><p>Farmleigh Gallery The opening of Farmleigh Gallery by the Taoiseach, Mr Bertie </p><p>Ahern, TD, in September 2005 marked a significant stage in </p><p>the development of the estate's facilities and contribution to the </p><p>cultural life of Dublin and Ireland. The existence of the gallery </p><p>supplements the substantial art collection in Farmleigh House </p><p>itself, which is drawn from the OPW Government Art Collection, </p><p>Guinness family artworks, and loans from other art institutions </p><p>including the National Gallery of Ireland. </p><p>Originally functioning as the estate's cow sheds, the gallery build </p><p>ing has been transformed by Gerry Cahili Architects and the OPW so </p><p>that it meets international standards as an exhibition space. As a </p><p>result, its programme has been opened up to attracting significant </p><p>exhibitions for the future. Furthermore, Farmleigh's role in providing a </p><p>residence for visiting heads of state, together with this new gallery </p><p>space, creates an opportunity for bringing a public dimension to these </p><p>visits by displaying exhibitions related to the </p><p>state visitors and their country of origin. </p><p>Exhibitions this year will range from craft </p><p>and furniture design to contemporary drawing </p><p>and painting exhibitions. 'To Hold' is the sec </p><p>ond exhibition of the year running until 11 </p><p>June. Peter Ting, homeware designer for Asprey, </p><p>London, curates an international cast of sixteen </p><p>highly respected and collected ceramics makers </p><p>in a premiere show. As the title suggests, the works represented are </p><p>a wide-range of vessels that are associated with containing, carrying, </p><p>and holding. Not to be missed is the 'Curator's Walk Through Talk' </p><p>on Saturday 10 June at 12pm and again at 3pm. </p><p>The summer months will see exhibitions from the Irish State Art </p><p>Collection (16 June - 9 July), coinciding with the launch of the OPW </p><p>art catalogue Art in State Buildings 1995 - 2005 , Contemporary </p><p>Croatian Drawing (14 July - </p><p>August), and the RDS National Crafts </p><p>Competition - Winners Exhibition (24 August </p><p>- 24 September). The </p><p>last quarter of the year heralds a showcase of contemporary furniture </p><p>design from the G M IT Letterfrack Furniture College entitled 'Furnishing </p><p>the Details' (5 October - 5 November), followed by an ethereal show </p><p>by Japanese artist Makiko Nakamura as an homage to Samuel Beckett </p><p>(10 November - 10 December). A display of Beckett material will be </p><p>shown simultaneously in the Guinness Library at Farmleigh, marking </p><p>the centenary of his birth. As a fitting conclusion to the 2006 </p><p>programme, Farmleigh Gallery will play host to the first ever 100 Cribs </p><p>Ireland Exhibition, organised by Veritas and sponsored by the Naughton </p><p>Foundation. Students at primary, secondary, and third-level will com </p><p>pete to make the top 100 designs to be shown at the gallery. The four </p><p>best designs will also participate in the Mostra 100 Presepi 2006 (The </p><p>Annual International Crib Competition) in Rome. This exhibition will be </p><p>open over the Christmas and New Year period, until 7 January 2007. </p><p>For further information please visit www.farmleighgallery.ie or pick up a </p><p>copy of our Exhibitions 2006 programme at the gallery. </p><p>Farmleigh Gallery is open during exhibitions from </p><p>Thursdays to Sundays and Bank Holidays, 10.00am to </p><p>5.30pm. Last admittance to the Estate is at 4.45pm; </p><p>gates close 6pm. Entrance is free of charge. W </p><p>Li^^^ll^HHHHHHHHH??I??^IHi </p><p>The Farmleigh panels with their intriguing provenance are part of a rare surviving heritage of 17th century Italian pictorial embroidered wall hangings </p><p>Jupiter and Saturn panels were indeed once part of a </p><p>complete set of seven panels. </p><p>This theory is supported by the presence of anoth </p><p>er panel matching those at Farmleigh which is now in </p><p>the collection of the State Hermitage Museum in St </p><p>Petersburg.4 This panel depicts Mercury who is por </p><p>trayed riding in a chariot drawn by a pair of storks </p><p>while the conventional astrological sigil for Mercury </p><p>appears above his head. Having now accounted for five </p><p>of the seven planetary gods it seems safe to conclude </p><p>that the original set must also have included the </p><p>Triumphs of Mars and Diana. The panels are embroi </p><p>dered in silk floss on linen in a needlepainting style. </p><p>Needlepainting or acupitura is a technique whereby the </p><p>entire ground fabric is covered with stitches. It </p><p>attempts to emulate painting so as to produce in thread </p><p>^^^^ all the shading subtleties of the </p><p>^^^^^^^k ^^^^ painter's brush. In Italy in </p><p>M^^^^^^^^B|^^^V the 17th-century the needle </p><p>^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ painting style was used on </p><p>^^^H^^HI^^^ large-scale pictorial hangings </p><p>^K^K such as those at Farmleigh. </p><p>^^^r^ Naples was one of the main centres of </p><p>m production. It is therefore probable </p><p>2 0 I </p><p>OPW 175TH ANNIVERSARY EDITION </p><p>This content downloaded from 188.72.96.190 on Wed, 11 Jun 2014 08:53:40 AMAll use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions</p><p>http://www.jstor.org/page/info/about/policies/terms.jsp</p></li><li><p>nflHHHHHHHHHIHHIHHHi that the Farmleigh panels originated in Naples, birth </p><p>place of Queen Maria Cristina. A set of five 17th-cen </p><p>tury Italian embroidered hangings at the Victoria and </p><p>Albert Museum, London are technically and stylisti </p><p>cally close to the Farmleigh panels and depict scenes </p><p>from the story of Rinaldo and Armida. They were </p><p>acquired by the V ck A in Naples in the 19th century.5 Various stitches are used most effectively in the pan </p><p>els. Laidwork is employed extensively on the main back </p><p>ground area around the figures, the architectural ele </p><p>ments, the terrace, and the floral design on the </p><p>pedestals. Couching outlines architectural details and </p><p>long-and-short stitch achieves subtle effects of shading </p><p>in the figures, animals and chariots. Other stitches </p><p>used include tiny French knots used singly as fruit on </p><p>the trees or in clusters to achieve a textured effect as on </p><p>the trees in the Saturn panel. </p><p>Colour in the panels has been severely affected by </p><p>over three centuries of exposure to natural and artificial </p><p>light and the polychrome silks are considerably faded </p><p>leaving the colour palate dominated by beige tones. </p><p>Embroidery as a surface technique is more vulnerable to </p><p>wear and tear than tapestry and evidence of such damage </p><p>is present on all of the Farmleigh panels. Nonetheless the </p><p>needlepainting style remains impressive. Undoubtedly </p><p>the Farmleigh panels with their intriguing provenance </p><p>are indeed part of a rare surviving heritage of 17th </p><p>century Italian pictorial embroidered wall hangings. </p><p>WEAVING HEAVEN AND EARTH II </p><p>Mary Heffernan </p><p>Mary Heffernan joined the OPW in 1985 and has been general </p><p>manager at Farmleigh since 2001. She was born in Clonmel, Co </p><p>Tipperary in 1967, and graduated from Trinity College,...</p></li></ul>

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