International Museum Day: 30 Objects – Holy Light

14 May 2017

For International Museum Day on 18 May our Head of Collections, Alice, has chosen her top 30 objects from Mount Stuart’s Collections which we’ll bring to you throughout the Month. Ranging from books, furniture, silver-work, paintings and documentation from hundreds of years of Stuart family life, this barely scratches the surface of our Collections so make sure to plan your visit and experience it for yourself!

Tom Errington (1943-2013) was an artist, lecturer and designer was specialised in murals, and Trompe L’Oeil paintings (a style of painting that gives an illusion of photographic reality).  Errington worked on 3 major projects at Mount Stuart commissioned by the 6th Marquess (continuing the unfinished work of his great-grandfather, the 3rd Marquess); these included the ceiling of the Smoking Room as well as that of the Horoscope Room and the lantern in the Marble Chapel.

It is in the Smoking room that you see Tom Errington’s skill as a Trompe L’Oeil artist, where he not only worked on the ceiling, but also added the illusion of brickwork around the windows.  This is so convincing that unless you touch it you would not believe it is not real.

As with the Chief Architect of the current Mount Stuart, Robert Rowand Anderson (1834-1921), Errington was dispatched to the Saragossa, Spain to gain inspiration for his work in the Marble Chapel.  The resulting scheme with its choir of angels was begun in 1990 and was completed eight years later when the figures of the Celtic Saints were fitted into the lantern drum. This work completed the grand effect of the lantern whose red light falls down into the chapel and alter in an effect commissioned by the third Marquess to reflect his love of Wagner. A frequent pilgrim to the performance of Wagner’s Parsifal at the Bayreuth festival the 3rd Marquess had requested that his architect Robert Rowand Anderson create windows that would replicate the passage relating to the holy light falling on the Grail for the chapel in physical form.

In the 1990’s Errington also restored the elaborate astrological ceiling in the Horoscope Bedroom (formerly the 3rd Marquess’s Sitting Room) which details the exact position of the planets at the time of the 3rd Marquess’s birth on 12 September 1847.  Pluto was also added in at this stage as it was not yet discovered at the time of the original scheme over 50 years before as this has now been declassified we will have to take it out the next time work is undertaken!