Tag Archives: Lepautre

The historic wall paintings: Another fragment of evidence   

The stair hall in Kings Weston house possesses some lush gilded trompe-l’oeil painted into its alcoves. These, we discovered some time ago, were inspired in about 1716 by printed images by the French architect Jean Lepautre. Edward Southwell who commissioned the house had copies of several volumes of his work, so appears to have set the painter the task of replicating them to decorate his new home. Until now, the origin of one of the paintings has remained a mystery, but one we think we’ve now solved.

The painting is small, occupying the arched head of a door on the first floor of the stair hall and looks less accomplished than those elsewhere. In incorporates weapons, canon, arrows, spears, a shield, banners and the paraphernalia of warfare. One of Lepautre’s designs came to our attention recently but looks rather different. The theme is similar but on a more extravagant scale. However, looking closely you can start to pick out the same various elements as the Kings Weston painting.

It appears that the painter has used the same image as the basis for his work, simplifying and adapting it to fit in the architectural setting he had to work with. Curiously, he seems not to have quite understood some of the things he was painting leading to some odd interpretation. The top of the shield, for example, has some strange bendy detail, and what on earth is the strange sun-shaped thing at the back? Is it supposed to be one of the epaulettes, feathers, or that oddity in Lepautre’s own engraving at the back-left side?