The Subtle Stroke of Composition

by Margaret McAvoy

I first saw this image in a post that I read just today, on one of the weblogs that I frequent, that of Treasure Hunt, National Trust Collections, by Emile de Bruijn.  The post itself was about Coughton Court in Warwickshire, home to the Throckmorton family since 1409.  Loyal to their Catholic faith, they endured great turmoil during the Reformation, and indeed throughout the centuries to one extent or another.  I invite you to read the entire post here.

Yet, I have gazed upon this image time and again, since I first read the post.  It is, at once, many things.  It is handsome, and serene, and interesting, and strikingly simple. The composition is both deft and stunning.  The soft patina of well-worn floorboards in a quiet corner of the luminous Blue Drawing Room.  The leafed rope moulding at the rail.  The quiet portrait of Anne Frances Throckmorton upon a dove wall.  And beneath it, the piece that has truly captivated me, the Chippendale-style bench that converts into Library steps.  The detail of the needlework on the apron of the seat, that mimics the quatrefoil fretwork of the back, is all nothing short of beautiful to me.  The soft, natural, English light illuminates it all superbly, and I am quite blissfully mesmerized because of it.

Blue Drawing Room, Coughton Court, Warwickshire, England, showing a portrait by Nicolas de Largillière, of Anne Frances Throckmorton, Prioress of the English Augustinian Convent of Notre Dame de Sion, Paris, c. 1729

©NTPL/Andreas von Einsiedel

Image kindly via Treasure Hunt, National Trust Collections and Emile de Bruijn.

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