Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Greek Keys No. 6

detail of a photograph by Guillaume de Laubier  |  The Most Beautiful Libraries in the World
Pope Sixtus V (1585-1590), known as The Iron Pope, came from a poor family from the village of Montalto. The family name was Peretti, so Pope Sixtus V designed his crest to include a lion holding a branch of pears. The image above is a painting of the pope which hangs in the Vatican library that bears his name. Notice that above the painting is a Greek key that incorporates pears. I've recreated the key below.


And now from the Vatican to the Royal Family. Here is the Meander Tiara, which was worn by Princess Alice of Greece, mother of the Britain's Prince Philip.

orderofsplendor.blogspot.com

Princess Alice of Greece   |   alexanderpalace.org

The tiara was a wedding gift from Princess Alice to her daughter-in-law, Queen Elizabeth II, who in turn gave it to Princess Anne.


An 18th century decorative frame
is shown with details of the keys.


Source
This is a Louis XV table of ebony and inlay.


Here, I've recreated the key design of a Roman mosaic floor found in Britain. To see and learn about the Sea God Mosaic, featuring a portrait of Oceanus, go here.

My entire series of Greek key designs can be found on my side bar — just look for the brown stele.
.


18 comments:

  1. Hello Mark:
    All of the Greek key designs you show here are so very appealing, perhaps because of the relative simplicity of design. We find the Meander Tiara particularly attractive. Usually we are not keen on anything that could loosely be termed 'bling' but in this case it is so simply styled and lacks the fussiness that one usually attaches to such items.

    We found the story of Pope Sixtus V most interesting. Rather like the attributes of saints, we rather like seeking out the tell tale signs which distinguish one Pope from another.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hello, Jane and Lance -

      The interesting thing about the Meander Tiara's history is that after Elizabeth II received it from her mother-in-law, she reportedly never once wore it. Princess Anne, on the other hand wears it often.

      I, too, enjoy seeing design elements that are personalized, and the lion and pear appear on many Roman buildings, since Sixtus V went on a tremendous building spree during his short reign.

      Delete
  2. Terrific post, and I am wild about the pope's key incorporating pears. A delight, indeed! RD

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Reggie - I could certainly see a key at Darlington Hall, one that incorporates pine cones or acorns, or even pears!

      Delete
  3. Dear Mark, You are so clever! I love the Greek key and pear design. Do I have your permission to use it? Gina

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Dear Gina - Your're in luck because I think the copyright on Sixtus' key has just recently expired! I could envision one of your splendid platters with a key border that had alternating Salpiglossis or Rembrandt Tulips, then a cluster of the same in the middle. It would be a stunning Neoclassic statement, don't you think?

      Delete
  4. Dear Mark - this post on Greek Keys further endorses what a classical design it is. From ancient to modern it is timeless. Roman mosaic floors, beautiful Edwardian/Art Deco Tiara to your own contemporary take on the Greek Key painted in your own home.
    Like the sound of the key border with the Rembrandt Tulips on one of Gina's platters.
    Could you tell me which British mosaic floor you have recreated?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Dear Rosemary -

      I hope Gina does a flower and key design, too. Of course it would have to be the sole entry for "Greek Keys No. 7!"

      I am so sorry to say that I have lost the source of the original mosaic image, which would have allowed me to be more specific in the posting. Much as I discard the day's paper after having read it, I sometimes discard images from my computer quickly, and in both cases that can work against me! The original image did have the feel of the Orpheus Pavement about which you posted. If I run across the mosaic image again — which is likely, as I am constantly looking at books of Classical art — I will let you know.

      Delete
    2. Dear Mark - I was wondering whether it was the Sea God Mosaic, at the Verulamium Museum, in St. Albans, Hertfordshire.

      Delete
    3. Hi again, Rosemary. You nailed it! Thank you for filling in the blank(s). I have ammended my posting to include a link to the St. Albans site.

      Delete
  5. We're apparently experiencing some snags with Google's Blogger; this comment from Road to Parnassus comes via my email:

    The pear-in-key design not only provides an interesting variation, it's relative simplicity opens up that row in the cornice so that the total design does not become too ornate or rich. It also recalls how pear trees were incorporated into formal Renaissance gardens and mazes.

    I'll apologize in advance for the puns, but when they added the pear "course" to the Egg(and dart) moulding below, it became a "feast" for the eyes.
    --Road to Parnassus

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hello, Parnassus -

      The great thing about Sixtus' key is that any number of personal devices could be incorporated into this design, like a flower or even the human form, and I think the same charming effect would result.

      Apologies accepted.

      Delete
  6. Dear Mark and dear Rosemary, Here's the deal! You two design the plates, I'll paint them, even adding a little gold, as would be appropriate for such a classic design, and then I'll share the profits when we sell hundreds to Bergdorf Goodman or Tiffanies or whomever or is it whoever (English is not my native tongue). oxoxox, Gina

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Dear Gina, I might just surprise you!

      Delete
  7. Hello Mark,
    Up to date now and as always, I'm thoroughly informed and entertained.
    Anyes
    XX

    ReplyDelete
  8. Hi, Anyes! I'm glad to have you back from your long hiatus! I hope it was at least filled with some rest and recuperation.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Hi Mark,

    Your posts are terrific. Such interesting topics and selections of images, not to mention those which you create yourself...now there's a Renaissance man!

    As you know, I am very fond of the Greek key motif and have it several places in my home. But I've never noticed a Greek key motif with a natural/ representational motif in it...how fascinating and beautiful. It reminds me that the classics can never be dull; the creative mind can rework them in infinite new ways which are comfortingly familiar, but with an aspect of the new which delights.

    I am interested in royalty and historic jewels so found the tiara, which I was not familiar with, most engaging.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hello, Terry -

      I was pleased to have discovered Sixtus' personalized key — it opens the possibility of endless variations, as you say.

      I found it strange that HM never wore the Meander Tiara. I wonder why?

      Delete