Walking from the Dormer into the Study, I can feel the personality of Henry Mercer at work. Four desks are installed/placed around the room. Each one is positioned to capture the best light available for different times of the day. Artwork, artifacts, and books grace the walls. Tile mosaics adorn the ceiling, The two shown in this post represent the several others placed around the Study Ceiling.
Completing one loop from the Center Hall, the tour walks past the Floral Brocades shown in a prior post to start another loop in the Dormer. One wall in the Dormer is completely covered in tiles. Antique Delft tiles are encased by Mercer’s Architectural tiles. Two modern ceramic sculptures by Katia McGuirk are on temporary display.
The East Room Bath is a short walk up a set of stairs from the East Room. It is a tight space decorated with a Spanish Brocade tile motif (I think?). Compare this with the previous post on the Smoking Room. To cover the bright light from the skylight through the deep shadows in the corner, I processed 3 images in HDR. My objective was to cover the dynamic range without making it look like a HDR image.
Out of curiosity, I asked the staff if some of the individual tiles had fallen off from within the circles. There is no record showing the wall with all the circles filled in. During installation, the artisans may have temporarily installed tiles, then moved them.
The tour now moves from the Center Hall up to the East Room. The main walls of the East Room are covered with fine artwork, not tiles. Architectural tiles on the built-in bureau, desk, and staircase cap. The ceilings are decorated with brocade tiles along the seams and several mosaics including the one in the above image.
Canon 5DMKIII, EF17-40mm @ 20mm, f/8.0, ISO 400 (HDR)
Taking a few more steps up the stairs one find this second Mosaic of Persian antique tiles. The origin dates for these are also unknown. Note how Mercer uses his own architectural tiles to create this mosaic to display the Persian collection.
The left side of this mosaic was in bright sunlight while the right side was in shadow. I used HDR processing and image merging to balance the shades to depict the colors that I saw.
Below are additional images of some individual tiles:
After seeing the Fonthill worker dedication mural, I have walked down the stairs to the Breakfast Room, down more stairs to the Gallery, and up another set of stairs to the Center Hall. Rounding the stairway from the Gallery, this Persian tile mosaic is right in front of me. I asked the site administrator what happened to the tiles preceding the ” — th Century” title. I thought they may have damaged and taken off. The answer that he gave was that Mercer was uncertain when the tiles were actually made, so he left it blank. To design this display, Mercer used his own architectural tiles to frame the Persian Tiles. He used this technique throughout Fonthill to display his foreign tile collections.
Below are a couple of the Persian tiles that I caught my eye:
I couldn’t leave my last post alone. The message was important to me, but the image was not. So here I try working with black and white. I was able to reduce the color cloudiness caused by the bright light coming in from the window. The individual letters are also a little bit sharper, maybe. However I was still not able to pull out all the different colors of the letters. I still need to go back and reshoot.
“Here see the names of the men who planned this house, directed its plan, executed its construction, adorned its walls, embellished its pavements, built with their labor and the horse who uplifted it with its strength.”
The design, planning, construction, and adornment of Fonthill was a tremendous feat. It is such, especially when considering when it was built (1908-1912) and with the tools available at the time. All the concrete was hand mixed one batch at a time. It was lifted up five plus stories with pulleys and ropes by Lucy, one strong horse. Every time I drive by or visit the site, I look back in awe of how this wonderful national treasure was built.
This dedication mural is hidden in a dark hallway between the servants quarters and the main house. It can only be seen walking down from the servants quarters. There is a window directly above the mural that makes getting a proper exposure extremely difficult. I took 25-30 images with different exposures to get one that I could work with. I first tried to use HDR processing. The resulting image showed multiple lens effect bright blobs which were totally unacceptable. I then fell back on traditional image blending. The base image was underexposed to keep the light from the window from washing out the top half of the mural. I then combined it with an additional three images by blending them together in Photoshop. I still am not happy with the results. I will go back and try again.
Lesson Learned: I had my flash with me. I have no idea why I did not try to use it to get the image that I was looking for. I had a lot to cover and may just have been in a hurry to get to my other target. I should have taken more time.
Canon 5DMkIII, EF 17-40mm f/4L @ 29mm, f/11, 13 sec, ISO 400
The Smoking Room is tucked up and above the Breakfast Room. I guess there is nothing better than a good cigar after breakfast. This mural is an example of a Spanish Brocade motif. It is installed in the back corner of the room and is normally in deep shadows which makes it difficult to see the details. This is the largest Spanish Brocade display in the castle. It is too bad that it is not on the main path of the Fonthill standard tours. Other examples of a Spanish Brocade are installed in a couple of other places in the castle that I plan to show in future posts.
Wandering through the Gallery a set of stairs leads up to the Breakfast Room. The Breakfast Room displays two different types of Mercer tiles. The mirror is framed with Mercer’s Architectural Molding Tiles. Similar tiles are used throughout the Castle to frame Mercer’s historical tiles as well as frame windows and other architectural elements.
Floral Brocade Tiles on Russian Fireplace
A Floral Brocade Mosaic covers the Russian Fireplace on the opposite side of the room. Multiple examples of Floral Brocade Mosaics are displayed throughout Fonthill. Another example in the Castle entryway was shown on my 14 November post.