BUCKINGHAM PALACE is known the wide world over to be the London residence of the most powerful monarch, the wisest ruler, and the most universally respected personage that has ever occupied a throne, Queen Victoria.
St. James's Park, built on the site of old Buckingham House, from designs by Nash, in the year 1825. It originally occupied three sides of a square, but a fourth was added in 1850. The state apartments look upon the beautiful gardens at the back, in which is a small Pavilion, containing eight fresco paintings from comus, executed by Eastlake, Stanfield, Dyce, Landseer, Maclise, Ross, Ewins, and Leslie. In Queen's Row, the Royal Mews are situated, where are kept the state horses and carriages.
NEW STATE APARTMENTS.
The portion of Buckingham Palace which contains the new apartments, was constructed from the design and under the direction of Mr. J. Pennethorne, architect, by the late Mr. Thomas Cubitt. The sculptures which adorn them are the work of Mr. W. Theed, and the decorations have been carried out from the designs and under the superintendence of Mr. Lewis Gruner, who availed himself of the services of Mr. A. Miller and Signer Canzoni at Rome.
A branch of the grand staircase of the Palace leads to the first apartment, called the Promenade Gallery, a room ninety-five feet in length and thirty-one in height, with a coved roof, from which the apartment receives its light; this, like all the other rooms, is decorated in the style used in Italy during the sixteenth century, usually called "cinque cento,"
The lower part represents an open gallery with vases filled with flowers under its arches; above these a series of panels has been introduced with chiaroscuro paintings of children. Eight colossal classical busts, by Mr. W. Theed, are placed along the walls on marble columns. This gallery admits on one side to a new ante-ioom to the State apartments, and on the other to the banqueting room. The principal exit, however, is by a large and richly gilt folding-door into the Ball and Concert-room, opposite to the staircase entrance.
The Ball and Concert-room itself is an oblong square, measuring one hundred and twelve feet by sixty, without the two recesses at the east and west ends; the height is forty-eight feet. At the end towards the west a bold arch, supported by Corinthian columns, and surmounted by emblematical figures of Fame holding a medallion, upon which are the profiles of the Queen and Prince, rises above Her Majesty's seat. The lunette formed by this arch will ultimately be filled with a copy from Raphael's Parnassus. At the opposite end another arch, but without enrichments, confines a similar recess, containing the orchestra and a richly decorated organ. At the foot of this and along the two sides of the room a triple row of seats, covered with red silk, extends, which, with the other furniture of the apartments, was furnished by Messrs. Johnstone and Jeanes. The roof of this apartment rests on a wide cove, enriched with stuccoes; double beams of considerable projection running parallel and transverse divide the whole roof into twenty-one compartments, each of which is shaped into a deep octagon recess, from which descends a glass lustre for gaslights. The lustres have been executed by Messrs. Osier, of Birmingham. Below the cove a cornice and frieze richly ornamented in stucco separates the walls from the ceiling. The upper part of each of the two side walls is divided into thirteen compartments, seven of which are the windows, which at night are filled with gaslight, and six are surrounded with large borders, and represent figures of the hours taken from sketches by Raphael, and executed about life size by Professor N. Conzoni at Rome, where the originals are existing. Within similar spaces on the sides of the arches the arms of Great Britain are suspended from flower and fruit knots; arabesques on gold ground and marble panels fill the other spaces in the corners, while the four spandrils formed by the arches contain four cupids from Raphael's frescoes at the Parnesian Palace. The whole of the length of the lower part of the two side walls is covered with a rich silk, decorated with the national devices in flowers, and executed from Mr. Gruner's designs by Messrs. Jackson and Graham. On the north side of this apartment are too large doors with sculptures by Mr. Theed, of which the one is that leading from the Promenade Gallery, and the other opening into a similar room, called the Approach Gallery, and through which the State Dining Room of the Palace is reached. Opposite to each of these doors in the Ball-room and Concert-room, a mirror of the largest size, viz., ten feet by fifteen, has been placed to correspond with the doors. The ten candelabras of gilt bronze, which are placed at the two sides of the seats of Her Majesty and the Royal Family, and at the sides of each of the doors and mirrors, as also the two lustres in the recess on the west end, have been executed by Messrs. Barbedienne and Co., from Mr. Gruner's design. Each of these candelabras support forty-three wax candles. Thus for the upper part of the room the soft clear gaslight is used, and for the lower part the mellow tone of the wax.
The Approach Gallery has its walls painted in imitation of tapestry, divided by pilasters, with scrolls in the style of Raphael, and the two ends, with hemicircles arising from the curve of the roof, have been adorned bv Mr. Theed with large reliefs, representing the Birth of Venus, and Venus descending with the armour of Achilles in life size. Round these high reliefs are suspended knots of flowers and fruit, which descend to the base of the doors.
The last of the five new apartments is the Banqueting-room, which forms nearly a regular square of sixty-six feet, with a dome in the centre, and measuring, from the floor to the middle of the dome, forty-two feet. A large blue tent sown with golden stars, and bordered by cords and Arabesques, extends over the whole of the dome. The walls of the upper part of the room are divided into panels alternately painted with Raphael's Arabesques in colour upon a red ground and with the Royal Arms in chiaroscuro (pictorial representation in terms of light and shade without regard to color) on a gold ground, each panel being surrounded by a rich frame. The north and south sides contain a frieze in relief, each divided into one large and two small compositions, of which the principal ones are taken from "Raphael's History of Psyche," to which Mr. Gribson, the Royal Academician, has made some additions, the whole having been modelled and executed by Mr.Theed. In the lower part Mr. Moxon has executed a variety of panels of various coloured marbles, as he has also executed all the other marbles and gilding in the whole building. This room is lighted by a gas lustre descending from the dome, and four other smaller ones in the corners of the roof.
Admission to view the interior can only be gained in the absence of the Royal Family, and then only by special favor of the Lord Chamberlain.Hogben's Strangers' Guide to London, By John Hogben (1850)
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