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Biblical and mythical scenes Gallery

Choose from 62 images in our Biblical and mythical scenes collection.


Chiswick House, Red Velvet Room ceiling J970259 Featured Biblical and mythical scenes Image

Chiswick House, Red Velvet Room ceiling J970259

CHISWICK HOUSE, London. Interior. View of the ceiling in the Red Velvet Room.
The ceiling is inset with painted panels attributed to William Kent and has usually been interpreted as an allegory of the Arts. The panels around the edge, for example, incorporate musical instruments, portrait roundels of gods and goddesses (Jupiter, Venus, Saturn, Mars, Diana and Apollo) and their appropriate Zodiac signs. In the central panel the messenger god Mercury hovers above a stone arch, below which is a group of figures with further emblems of the visual arts: Architecture is represented by a bare-chested woman with a set square and a cherub with a plan of a Roman temple, Sculpture by a fallen bust of Inigo Jones, and Painting by a woman unveiling a self-portrait of Kent.
The radical alternative interpretation of this symbolism is that it alludes to the ritual of the Royal Arch masonic lodge. Red is the Royal Arch colour, so the red velvet on the walls is symbolic, as is the red drape which is being removed to reveal Kent's portrait in the ceiling. The traditional implements of the architect and sculptor, depicted in the ceiling, are likewise masonic emblems, while the combination of an arch below a rainbow which occurs in the ceiling painting was apparently a common subject of early Royal Arch lodge banners. The suggestion, therefore, is that this room could have been designed by Burlington and Kent - both of whom were certainly freemasons - to function as a masonic meeting place

© Jeremy Young

Crucifixion EMM01/01/046 Featured Biblical and mythical scenes Image

Crucifixion EMM01/01/046

St Mary The Virgin's Church, Westwood, Wiltshire. Two joined watercolours, by Elsie Matley Moore, covering the upper and lower part of a stained glass window showing a Crucifixion scene. A handwritten note on the index card for this painting reads: A variant of the Lily Crucifixions which were popular in the mid to late 15th century. The idea of the Cross springing from the Lily of the Anunciation is entirely English, and only 9 examples are now known. The underlying thought is to link together the whole earthly life of our Lord as one redemptive act. 1940-1945

© Historic England Archive

Virgin and Child N070578 Featured Biblical and mythical scenes Image

Virgin and Child N070578

APSLEY HOUSE, London. "Virgin and Child" - Italian school c.1600. Doubtfully attributed to Lavinia Fontana (1552-1602). Previously part of the Spanish Royal Collection. Captured by Wellington at Vitoria in 1813. WM 1622-1948

© Historic England

Italian, Paintings