Wednesday, 16 November 2011

Fitzjames' Demonic Companion




This enlargement from the engraving published in the Illustrated London News seems to show a grotesque face peering out from James Fitzjames' bedside table. The item is a type of candle lantern sometimes described as a 'chamberstick with storm glass'. I've looked at thousands of pictures of candlesticks and lanterns on the web but so far I have been unable to find a picture of anything similar. I've found a few examples with a pierced foliage pattern on the gallery supporting the glass but nothing resembling a face. Perhaps it was a souvenir of Fitzjames' travels, or maybe even it was never really there and is just a private joke by the engraver.

2 comments:

  1. Nice one Peter - I sense the start of a new Franklin conspiracy story.

    Is it actually a face or is that white blob in the middle meant to be the reflection of the light coming from the 'patent illuminator' in the roof?

    What would be interesting is to blow up the two portraits on his wall. I believe the male portrait is of William Coningham - I recall Fitzjames writing a letter to William and saying he was doing so under his portrait. And I assume the female is the Queen.

    But can you shed any light on either of those assumptions?

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  2. It does look like a face! But being a printmaker myself, I can tell you it was probably just a happy accident that it turned out that way. It would have been really difficult to make that subtle face on purpose, and judging by the perspective, I'm guessing our printmaker wasn't quite that skilled.

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