Saturday, 3 January 2009


Clearly recognisable between the Library table and fireplace is a marble copy of the Vatican Ariadne. This is a key piece to understanding the purpose of the library. This room, the most intimate and comfortable in the house, was an inner sanctum. Francis Cook, for all his wealth, was a private and reserved character; he created this room for his own pleasure and self-reliance. Surrounded by four thousand books, this temple of Classical culture gave him personal reassurance as the Man of Arts that he wished to be. The decoration of this room dates from the period before he met J. C. Robinson when Cook transformed himself into a serious art collector. It contains souvenirs of the Grand Tour that he made in his youth (1839-40) when he visited Greece, Turkey, Egypt, Italy, Spain and finally Portugal where he met and married his first wife Emily Lucas. This was the private face of Francis Cook, not for show, a sitting room in a country house, a thousand miles from London.
She was one of the most celebrated pieces of all antiquity: unearthed on the Esquiline Hill in 1512 and placed in the Belvedere Garden of the Vatican. At that time she was thought to represent the dying Cleopatra. The sculpture was a "must see" of all grand tourists and many souvenir pieces were commissioned as souvenirs. More importantly the sculpture has inspired artists with her classic pose, both voluptuous and serene. For example both Titian and Matisse.

Grand Tour
This painting by Batoni, shows the typical Grand Tourist, showing off his newly acquired cultural polish.
Pompeo Girolamo Batoni
Portrait of Count Kirill Grigorjewitsch Razumovsky (1728-1803), full-length, in a scarlet suit, wearing the star, sash and badge of the Order of Saint Andrew and on his breast the Polish Order of the White Eagle, standing within a Sculpture Gallery with the Vatican Ariadne, Apollo Belvedere, Laocoön and the Belvedere Antinous.
Notice that in addition to Ariadne, the Laocoon group is also on show. Both these are to be found at Monserrate.
By 1929 Ariadne had been replaced by a cosy sofa!

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