Venetian Christmas and the Viscount’s Sketchbook

30 03 2007


Architectural Sketch – Viscount Dumaurier

Castle Harbour

Castle Harbour – Viscount Dumaurier

Masked Ball

Masque Ball – Viscount Dumaurier

Outdoor Entertainment

Performance Artists – Viscount Dumaurier

It was not until we were on the road to Villa Ada in Italy that the Viscount opened his sketchbook and showed me his work. The carriage bumped and swayed over the rutted roads, from recent rain, unseasonal, but welcome. Certainly the Venetians knew how to be festive, and Christmas was a long event, weeks went by with one entertainment after another. We watched the displays of light in the evening sky, the travelling minstrels as they told their tales and enacted their evening performances outdoors.

His leather bound book of parchment paper revealed sketches of architecture, of a castle we passed while approaching the harbour, an image of my fair self at the Venetian Masque Ball, and true to life likenesses of the players, who had amused us in the leafy glade. He was indeed a great artist, and I had much to learn from his eye and pen…

(copyright Imogen Crest 2007.)
(clip art courtesy karenswhimsy online.)


Italians, Coffee and Intelligence

16 12 2006

Venetian Christmas

Some things might never change through history.  The Viscount thought it prudent we make use of the largest coffee house once in Rome, to find out what the Romans were doing, what they were talking about, and gain certain intelligence.  There was an article in the newspaper on board the ship, which he bade me read through, which fascinated me:

Villa Ada was also still at the back of my mind, visions of arcadian splendour, sunbaked loggia and sweeping wisteria vine.  I longed to see it.  The salty sea air blew gently warmer, as we had come closer to our destination, but still had no sight of land.  A wandering player serenaded us on his ancient violin, walking the crowded decks, as the sun began to set.  It shimmered across the ocean which was calm like rippled silk.   

Other travellers, encouraged by the windless eve, set out their card tables, arranging themselves with their wine and coins, chattering amongst themselves.  There was much talk of Christmas in Venice, barely ten days away, which excited one and all.  It was known the festivities could run into a month, with much merriment and colour in the streets. 

I thought of home, the rolling hills now blanketed with snow, the sea a rolling tide of white angry foam.  The wildflowers on the hillside would be buffetted by the wind, leaning into the shelter of the hills and rocky coast.  Yet here the breeze was like a comforting balm, as if the violin music had bewitched all, languishing as they, and we did, on the decks toward Rome.

(copyright Imogen Crest 2006.)

Speaking of Virgil…

3 12 2006

Green Rome

“…Interestingly,” said the Viscount, swaying slightly with the ship dipping and diving through the waves, as we stood on the middle deck watching the blue views of water and sky, “…Virgil explains the account of the beginnings of Rome in his epic, ‘The Aeneid’…” The Viscount had an eloquence that even though his role involved a lot of speaking, he was never dull to listen to. The stories and history poured from within him, like water from an ornate fountain. Often I made notes in my journal, which was always in my dress pocket. I had leafed tentatively through the copy of this epic he had thrust at me, but most of all I loved the image on it’s cover, where one of the celestial beings visits Aeneas, the hero of the tale. I had come on this journey to find beauty. More favoured in my mind is ‘Georgics’, which speak of idyllic pastoral modes of living, bees and hives and olive groves basking in the sun. Still, this was relevant to the history of the place we were to begin our journey, and I wanted to hear about Rome, and make the most of my tutor’s encyclopaedic mind. Soon we would arrive, and my eyes would be opened to a new vista, a new way of seeing the world. He also spoke about the ‘Villa Ada’, a stately green part of Rome…

(copyright Imogen Crest 2006.)

Viscount Armstrong Dumaurier – Fragments

26 11 2006

Porcelain and Marble

When Imogen met with the Viscount, before he said anything, he suggested she take the items he gave her into her luggage as fragments for the tour. Needless to say she was intrigued. A piece of old marble and a shard of oriental china. He said he received them once from a potter named Orlando Non Furioso, in the famed “City of Ladies” in Lemuria, who had unearthed them from underneath his studio there.

(copyright Imogen Crest 2006.)

Packing Cases

26 11 2006

Guide Book

Luggage for the Grand Tour with the Viscount has been packed with subdued anticipation. There are maps, binoculars, paints, papers, small canvas, pen and ink, jangling coins in a leather pouch, small guidebooks, and suitable clothing. Seasickness pills, lotions and potions, grooming requisites and bottled water fill our leather satchels and cases. Great works of art and architecture fill our minds, treasures of the orient, great urns and vases of antiquity with tales to tell. The breeze blows around the cool winds of the Southampton docks, and the travellers gather, expectant of warmer climes.

(copyright Imogen Crest 2006.)

To Art and Culture – Southampton

25 11 2006


Imogen Crest is leaving from Southampton on her Grand Tour. Her tutor is the distinguished artistic genius and entrepeneur, Viscount Armstrong Dumaurier.

(copyright Imogen Crest 2006.)