Anyone who follows me here knows that an addiction to large, gorgeous coffee table books is alive and well, and I have a new favorite…View More Presidential Residences in France
Tag: royal palaces
There’s nothing more romantic as settings than Royal Palaces and I am always on the hunt for new ways to feature them here.
Early scenes in the film A Man for All Seasons turn the façade of Hampton Court Palace into a veritable character, particularly when the King’s Beasts make dramatic cameos. The ten statues of heraldic animals that flank the bridge over the moat leading to the great gatehouse seem to lick and scream into the cloud-clotted sky. In a powerful scene in the film, a corpulent Orson Welles swathed in luxuriant red as Cardinal Wolsey is troubled by Henry VIII’s arrival as he canters into the castle courtyard. Paul Scofield, who plays Sir Thomas More and has been summoned by the unhappy cleric, looks on.
The pale stone of the bay window above the gate through which the King has entered glows in the low light of evening. Paired with the rain-slicked pavers reflecting the eerie light, the monarch’s mood is perfectly intimated—he wants a divorce and no one seems to be able to get him one.
As the film unfolds, the camera cuts to billowing storm clouds exploding on the horizon, their edges drawing themselves with luminosity as if they are burning from within. Boats deploy and return, their oars slicing through green-gray water hemmed in row upon row of reeds that draw dark datum lines at the river’s edge. When a night-darkened Hampton Court Palace comes into view, messengers and power-mongers slip past torches that flicker on the castle’s bricked façade.
The director, cinematographer and editors who “painted” these scenes transported me to a bygone era when the palace was an important hub of political power and intrigue. This is what I hope to do with my writing about royal palaces here on The Diary of an Improvateur.
The Paris of a Pagan
This essay examining the military career of the last pagan emperor while he resided in Paris is included in my most recent book The Modern…View More The Paris of a Pagan
Libraries Are My Temples
This essay about the legacy of Cardinal Mazarin, which includes several libraries, is included in my book The Modern Salonnière. The 34 other essays in…View More Libraries Are My Temples
The Architecture of Chivalry
This essay about the built legacy of Henry VIII is included in my new book The Modern Salonnière. The 34 other essays in the book…View More The Architecture of Chivalry
The Nature of Noble Loyalty
It’s spring in London and the flowers are bursting forth on Cheyne Walk, which skirts the edge of the River Thames until it gives way…View More The Nature of Noble Loyalty
The Tapestry of History
In just a few hours, the modern ideal of a fairy tale wedding will take place at Windsor Castle. A trip I took to the…View More The Tapestry of History
The Fabric of Design
In their introduction to The Decoration of Houses, Edith Wharton and Ogden Codman, Jr., write, “In the middle ages, when warfare and brigandage shaped the…View More The Fabric of Design
My Porcelain Bucket List
When I am planning literary design adventures, I look for experiences that give me the feeling of transcendence—encounters during which I am conscious of having…View More My Porcelain Bucket List
A Backward Glance on rue de Varenne
The narrow sidewalks push their black iron batons up out of the ground to protect the buildings hemming them; the rain turns the cobblestones to…View More A Backward Glance on rue de Varenne
Vigée Le Brun’s Passion for Painting
A Passion for Painting Billowing ruched fabric, pointy toes of dainty shoes visible from beneath flounced skirts hemmed in gold fringes and ornate trims. A bejeweled…View More Vigée Le Brun’s Passion for Painting