Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Arches under a queen's house

click photo to enlarge
The Queen's House, Greenwich, was one of the first buildings to be built in England in a full-blown classical style. It is the work of Inigo Jones who designed it for Anne of Denmark, the consort of King James 1. Construction started in 1616. However, Anne died in 1619, and work stopped until 1629 when King Charles 1 gave the house to his new queen, Henrietta Maria. Jones finally completed the building in 1635.

The exterior of the building is well known: a white cuboid with elegantly curved twin stairs at one side, and a balcony at the other. It has been much imitated, and is said to have been an influence on the design of the White House in Washington. Today Queen's House is open to the public, showing furniture, paintings and other works of art.

My photograph shows a less well-known side, or rather underside, of the Queen's House. A public road ran under the building when it was first built, and this photograph shows the line that it took. Subsequent re-positioning of the road, and further building have removed nearly all traces of the route. The arches frame the view of a colonnaded walkway that is a later addition to the building. The symmetry of the scene, the arches leading to further arches, and the texture of the cobbles and the rusticated walls are what drew me into the photograph. I fancy that the scene has a hint of Piranesi about it, even though the house was built before the great draughtsman was born.

Symmetry is something I like, but I prefer it when it is marred in some way! Consequently the shaft of bright sunlight penetrating the depths of the building pleases me. The slightly jarring note that it adds, in my view, improves the shot considerably.
photograph & text (c) T. Boughen