Canon 5D MkIII, EF24-70mm f/2.8L @ 24mm, f/11, ISO 200 (HDR)
After a tour through the Castle, I like to sit in the Conservatory adjacent to the entrance and just look around, enjoy and reflect on this National Treasure. It is truly a elaborate work of art by an ingenious and dedicated man. It is a museum of history, art, and artifacts as well as Mercer’s own work.
The tiles displayed on the pedestals are from a recent exhibit of local artists. These are by Eric Boynton.
The Conservatory is adorned with Mercer’s collection of Spanish tiles. You can see the definite influence of Moorish design. Different styles adorn the room. Below is another variety of his Spanish tiles.
This post ends the tour of Henry Mercer’s Fonthill Tiles. I hope to be able to do a similar study on the artwork and artifacts displayed in the Castle. I hope that this series has been enjoyable with a little bit of history thrown in.
“City of Montezuma”
Canon 5D MkIII, EF17-40mm f/4L @ 17mm, f/11, 4 sec, ISO 400
Adjacent to the Columbus Room is the Bow Room. This is looking directly up at the Bow Room Ceiling. The map is a depiction of the “City of Montezuma” as encountered by Cortez. Mercer maintained the “New World” motif as he moved from the Columbus Room to the Bow Room. I do not think that Fonthill has one room with square corners.
I am getting close to the end of the room by room tile tour of Fonthill Castle. Tomorrow will be the last post of the Castle interior.
Columbus Room – Rollo’s Stairs
Canon 5D MkIII, EF17-40mm f/4L @ 17mm, f/11, ISO 200 (HDR)
This image is another perspective of the variety of tiles in the Columbus Room. Most people look up to see the elaborate tile work on the ceiling, missing the detailed tile work on the floor. Rollo’s stairs lead up to the top terrace of the castle. Until the day I took this image, I had not had the opportunity to see beyond these stairs. So up I went.
The dynamic range of this image is 5 stops. When the floor was properly exposed, the ceiling tiles were in an almost black shadow. When the ceiling tiles were properly exposed, the floor tiles were completely blown out by the bright sun coming in through the windows. NIK HDR Efex Pro came to the rescue to balance out the image. I worked hard to not create a “HDR-looking” image.
Onward and upward we go!
The Nina, Pinta, and Santa Maria Leaving Spain to Start Their Journey
The style of this image on the floor depicting Columbus’ departure is different than the individual tile scenes elsewhere in the Columbus Room. Watching several tour groups walk through the room, I have never seen anyone stop and observe this mosaic. There is just too much to see!
Again, I am showing just a couple of images to provide a hint of what is “under foot”.
Columbus Landing in the New World
Canon 5D MkIII, EF17-40 f/4L @ 29mm, f/8.0, 1.3 sec, ISO 400
The images in this post are just an example of the many tile mosaic scenes installed in the Columbus Room Ceiling. These isolated images only provide a glimpse of the elaborate ceiling decorations. I am still figuring out how I can best create an image of the full ceiling. I think I will need to lay on my back on the floor and do a panoramic sweep across the ceiling. I also would like to know the “full story” behind the many different scenes. I will need to do a lot of research, hopefully with the a member of Fonthill’s knowledgeable staff.
“The Sea of Darkness”
Canon 5D MkIII, EF17-40mm f/4L @ 17mm, f/11, ISO 400 (HDR)
Tiles on the ceiling, tiles on the floor, tiles on drawers, tiles on the fireplace, tiles on the window sills, tiles on the wall …. tiles, tiles everywhere! There is just too much to take in when just passing through. I could spend hours just photographing this room and still not capture what my eyes and mind see. I have “shot” this room at least a dozen times and still have not been to capture the feeling I get when in the room.
The theme in this room is Columbus’ voyage and discovery of the New World. In addition, Mercer dedicated this room to his Aunt Elizabeth Lawrence (EL). During the next several posts I will attempt to cover Mercer’s work in the Columbus Room.
Canon 5D MkIII, EF17-40 f/4L @ 17mm, f/11, 0.8 sec, ISO 400 w/flash
Most people never see this “hidden” mosaic. I have been past this mural dozens of times. I would never have known it was there without a Fonthill staff member telling me about it. It is located just outside the a door from the Yellow Room leading to a stairway to the Alcove. The door is normally open covering the mural. The normal flow of tour traffic is from the Yellow Room down the stairs. It is also in a very dark corner. I had to use supplemental flash bounced off the ceiling to capture the colors.
The tiles in the mural are very atypical. They are considered as “Experimental Tiles”. Similar tiles are nowhere to be found. Below is a detail of the mural.
Canon 5D MkIII, EF17-40mm f/4L @ 17mm, f/8.0, 10 sec, ISO 400
Adjacent to the West Room is the Yellow Room. It gets its name from the lavish Yellow Tiles decorating the ceiling and column capitals. The image above is Mercer’s Bluebeard Mural. It depicts a medieval story of a rich nobleman who married and killed several wives. The forbidden chamber is where the bodies were kept. See the image below.
Bluebeard Mural – “Forbidden Chamber”
Mercer had a somewhat twisted mind; this bedroom was the guest room for lady visitors at Fonthill!
Below are the tiles that the Yellow Room got it’s name from.
West Room Fireplace – Pickwick Papers
Canon 5D MkIII, EF17-40mm f/4L @ 32mm, f/11, 2 sec, ISO 400
Moving along the hallway from the Map Room, one encounters this “story board” fireplace in the West Room. One of Mercer’s most popular tile types were “story tiles” , a set of tiles which told a story or a sequence of events. Many of these were sold to private individuals throughout the country. This mural depicts Charles Dickens’ Pickwick Papers. Below are a couple of the individual tiles. It looks like I will need to read Dickens’ work so I can tell the story behind the tiles.
Note the small hole in the middle of the tiles, These are nail holes used to hold the tiles in place as they were being set into the mortar.
Map Room Floor Tile Design
Canon 5D MkIII, EF24-70mm f2.8L @ 59mm, f/11, 2 sec, ISO 200
Watch where you step! Your foot might obstruct interesting floor tile designs. The stimulating Map Room floor is decorated with unique mortar and tile designs. I do not know how many times I walked over these tiles without paying them much attention. Focusing on the various tiles throughout the castle has enabled me to see things I never noticed before. They just seem to pop out wherever I look. I look forward to returning and focusing on additional aspects within Fonthill. Below is another example of a different design.