Long Gallery Boiserie

Based on research by Dr Mark Valenzuela, Associate Professor/Mechanical & Civil Engineering, University of Evansville

For more detailed photographs and boiserie cataloguing see: https://harlaxtonboiserie.wordpress.com/

Plan of Long Gallery

The Long Gallery presents a challenge in identifying and interpreting the heraldry and iconography, in part because it does not fit in stylistically with the exterior of the Manor or the Great Hall or State Dining Room. Further, the Long Gallery is one of only two main public rooms where the Gregory coat of arms are not to be found. Instead, the focus is primarily on the family of De Ligne.

The boiserie in the Long Gallery recede into the background because, unlike the carvings in the Ante Room and Gold Room, they are not gilded but rather are painted using the technique of graining. That is, in keeping with the many other illusions in the Manor, the panels are painted to imitate the graining of exotic wood, as opposed to common wood such as pine or deal. Because these panels draw little attention to themselves (perhaps to draw more attention to the tapestries and paintings that were once in the foreground in this room), it becomes easy to assume that they are also imported French 18th century panels. There are motifs to represent music and the arts. Indeed many of the panels use ribbons, flowers, foliage and shells to great decorative effect that evoke the style of Louis XIV and Louis XV, although they are not necessarily of the same high quality achieved by the workshop that created the panels for the Ante Room and the Gold Room. The panels themselves do not seem proportional to the room, terminating (somewhat abruptly) halfway up the walls, but looking at early photographs, this was probably to allow for the positioning of bookcases. The panels themselves seem somewhat confined by the panels borders, as if to made to fit inside pre-determined spaces. Closer inspection of the actual content of the carvings leads us to the conclusion that either the boiserie were significantly altered to fit into a holistic plan at considerable expense, or these panels were carved in the 19th century specifically for Gregory Gregory.

The intricate boiserie and the plaster work of the ceiling display a profusion of objects and it is difficult to distinguish between merely decorative elements (a cornucopia here, a musical instrument there) versus deliberate elements that carry some intended message, assuming that Gregory Gregory had one. And that perhaps, is the real difficulty. In our quest for order and meaning, any set of random images can be connected to tell a story, whether or not those images were placed there deliberately by some agent to convey a message or an idea. So first we assume that there is a message being sent. And then we try to decipher the code. In doing so, as in any code-breaking process, we try to catalogue the images that are presented, realizing that perhaps the images connect to people, places, and events. We then try to discern overlapping patterns of what the people and places these images refer to, taking into account what we know about the background of the de Ligne family.

First, there are elements that are clearly original to the Manor and are meant to display the genealogy that Gregory Gregory claims, elements that more closely resemble the so-called science of heraldry than the art of allegory.

In the Long Gallery we can see Gregory Gregory’s use of the coat of arms of the de Ligne family, more properly the De Ligne that descended from the union of Jean de Ligne and Marguerite D’Aremberg. We see their shields in the panels around the oriel window. On the left (Panel A in the plan) are the shields of the D’Aremberg and the de la Marck families. In the right panel (B on the plan) are the shields of Barbancon and de Ligne, as found in the Willement heraldic glass window of the Great Hall. However, the shields are highly stylized, more in keeping with the fantasy of Louis Quatorze.

Panel B

Panel B

Panel A

Panel A

Figure 1: Panels A & B either side of oriel window. Note that even though no colour is used, the artist still takes great care to depict the colour red (gules) using the heraldic convention of vertical line hatching.

 

 

 

 

 

We see the de Ligne shield (Or, a bend gules) reproduced in the Long Gallery no less than eleven times, both prominently and subtly, sometimes in shields, or as cartouches (Panels G & H, Panels J & K), and sometimes integrated into the decorative elements of the boiserie (a banner held by an eagle (Panel K) or a monstrance raised by a female figure (Panel H, see figure 3 below)). The artist carving the shields takes great care to use the heraldic convention of vertical line hatching to represent the colour red (gules). This can also be seen in other carvings around the Manor. Indeed, in some of those cases the carving even employs small dots to represent the tincture of gold/yellow (Or). We even know that there is a connection between the De Ligne family and the Toison d’Or. Because of the ostensible connection with the family of De Ligne, we know that these devices are not merely decorative but convey heritage and history specific to the original owner. But what of the rest?

Now armed with an understanding of Gregory Gregory’s stylistic intent to emulate Louis Quatorze, we get a better feel for what either seem random or else seem anomalous. For example, the panel depicting the coat of arms of the France as shown in Figure 2 below now becomes integral to the whole, not necessarily in a genealogically, but stylistically, and as we hope to show, historically.

Panel D

Panel D

Figure 2. Panel D to right of Garden Door, showing the coat of arms of France, the scepter, the French crown. Also shown are the cross of Lorraine and a bishop’s mitre in the background.

And so as we view the various panels, we can expect to see symbols that relate either specifically to Louis XIV or to French royalty in general. For example, given the presence of the trident in the coat of arms which can be seen at Versailles, now the two tridents and the two maces present in the Long Gallery, beyond being merely ornamental, emerge as reinforcing elements of the person of Louis XIV.

 

 

 

Panel E

Panel E

Panel H

Panel H

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Figure 3. To the left is Panel E near the secret staircase in the corner of the Long Gallery. Shown are the golden fleece, the trident, the mace and a bishop’s crozier. On the right is Panel H to the right of the doorway to the Ante Room showing the trident. The gauntlet is reminiscent of the French hand of justice, one of the traditional wands carried by the king of France in addition to the sceptre topped with the fleur-de-lis. Behind the gauntlet is a torch with flames, perhaps in reference to the Sun king.

Given that Louis XIV was known as the Sun king, we would expect to see a plethora of sun symbols. However, there are only oblique references to the sun, for example in the liturgical vessels known as a monstrance. Similarly we might be able to interpret the flames shown as Figure 3 above with the gauntlet and trident as representative of the Sun king. What we find perhaps more noticeable are references to Apollo, the Greek god of the sun, through the symbols of lyres, a quiver of arrows, dragons and snakes. Apollo defeated the snake Python in Greek mythology and is sometimes known as the god of healing. The snake is often re-interpreted as a dragon. Apollo is also known as the god of music, hence the lyre.

Dragon feature prominently in the ceiling of the Long Gallery, as well as in the boiserie shown in Figure 4 below. Also present are Apollo’s two most important symbols, the lyre and the Rod of Asclepius.

Panel I

Panel I

Figure 4. On the left is Panel I on the north wall of the Long Gallery, near the doorway to the Conservatory. Note that in addition to the Rod of Asclepius, a lyre is also depicted. Both are symbols of the god Apollo. Note too the golden fleece. Panel H (see Figure 3 above) to the right of the doorway between the Long Gallery and the Ante Room. The dragon is at the very bottom of the panel.

There is another emblem visible in two panels that, although not unique to the de Ligne and d’Aremberg families, has special meaning to this illustrious family and to Gregory Gregory. The chivalric order of the Toisin d’Or is symbolized by the Golden Fleece, as we can also see in the heraldic window of the Great Hall. The presence of the Golden Fleece in Panel I may refer to the quest undertaken by Jason and the Argonauts.

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Figure 5. The Golden Fleece

It could be simply coincidental and serendipitous that Gregory Gregory purchased boiserie panels which contained these emblems for a room whose main family connection is through the line of D’Aremberg and de Ligne. However, given the context, a visitor to the gallery would have real difficulty separating the emblem from its connection to the family and might conclude the panels were created specifically for the Manor.

A closer examination of the carvings reveal some subtle and not-so-subtle differences, some of which are also evident in the d’Aremberg panels. Note that one Golden Fleece carving (Panel I) is superior to the other (Panel E), while the inferior depiction makes a more explicit reference to the chivalric order through the inclusion of the collar or necklace that is used to hang the emblem on the knight’s shoulders. Compare the design of the collar with the collar that is depicted in the stained glass window. We can similarly critique the cherub shown with the d’Aremberg shield in Panel A (Figure 1 above). Knowing Gregory Gregory’s obsession with cherubim in the Manor, we are not too surprised to find it in this panel but the pose can be described perhaps as “wooden” (pun intended).

The differing quality might be evidence that some of the panels were made specifically for Gregory Gregory and that others were simply purchased. But the differing quality might also imply different artists working in the same workshop for one client, Gregory Gregory. Documentary evidence needs to be found to prove conclusively one way or the other.

In other rooms of the Manor we see Gregory Gregory taking great care to show, through heraldry, the genealogical identity of the owners of the house as well as proudly displaying the badges of the house’s royal patrons (real or imagined). Gregory carries on that convention in the Long Gallery but in ways more selective and perhaps more subtle. We have already seen this use of shields from the “Continental” branch of the family, excluding the entire English side, including his own coat of arms. But whereas he makes explicit reference to Louis and the reverse L monogram in hardware elsewhere in the Manor, in the Long Gallery he teases the visitor with some subtle clues as to the identity of the royal patron.

Overall the style, as we know, evokes an amalgamation of Louis XIV, XV and XVI. But knowledge of the icons and allegories of the French monarchs gives further clues and makes several of the elements of the Long Gallery less cryptic and baffling. We start first with the most easily recognizable royal emblem, seen on the right side of the door leading to the terrace attached to the Long Gallery (Panel D).

Panel D

Panel D

Figure 6. Long Gallery Panel D to the right of terrace doorway.

The shield has three fleur-de-lys, which we have seen in the English royal badges and shield (because of their tenuous claims to the French kingdom), but seen in the context of the French crown and the fleur-de-lys topped sceptre, the three elements together represent the monarch of France. Other iconographic elements help to reinforce a strong connection of the room with the French monarchy. The Long Gallery contains two tridents and two maces, evocative of the devices seen in the Royal Arms of France.

While all of the decorative elements are stylistically correct for Louis Quatorze, and many of the elements now help reinforce the imagery of Louis the Sun King of France, the wholeness of the picture breaks down when considering the inclusion of two elements in this tableau that Gregory Gregory paints: the De Ligne coat of arms and the Papal symbols mentioned previously.

We first point out that there are only two kinds of liturgical crosses present in the Long Gallery, the cross associated with the Papal panel (the triple cross appropriate to the papacy seen in Panel C) and the double cross (Panel D), known either as the Patriarchal cross or the cross of Lorraine. Given the context, we will assume that the intent is to portray the cross of Lorraine. This cross appears in only three panels, two of which we have already seen, the panel for the D’Aremberg and De La Marck coat of arms. The cross of Lorraine, although later associated in the 20th century with the Free French forces, does not appear to be a “stock” symbol used by the court of Louis XIV.

The duchy of Lorraine was carved from the upper region located between France and Germany that was given to one of the grandsons of Charlemagne, Lothar, hence the name of the entire region, Lotharingia (the duchy was known as Lorraine in France and Lothringern in Germany). Lorraine was part of the Holy Roman Empire.

We note that the county of Hainaut from which come the De Lignes as well as the territory of Aremberg are located in the Duchy of Lower Lorraine. (See http://flagspot.net/flags/fr-lo.html).

The cross which we now know as the cross of Lorraine became popularly associated with the duchy in 1477 when the Duke of Lorraine used it as a rallying symbol for his troops when under attack by the Duke of Burgundy who was trying to reunite Lorraine and Burgundy, which had both been part of the larger kingdom of Lotharingia.

The kingdom of France started to make advances on the Duchy of Lorraine from as early as 1552. Louis XIII invaded the duchy in 1631 and Louis XIV followed suit, invading yet again in 1670. It was not until 1766 that the Duchy of Lorraine was fully incorporated into the Kingdom of France in the time of Louis XV.

So the cross of Lorraine serves as a bridge between the France of Louis XIV and the lands occupied by the ancestors of De Ligne. The web of connections becomes even more intricate when we consider in more detail these clashes between France and the Dutch states. This web is reflected in the intricate mesh of symbols present in the Long Gallery.

The War of Devolution from 1667 to 1668 was fought by Louis XIV in an attempt to gain Spanish Netherlands. Louis XIV was married to Marie-Therese of Spain, the sister of the rightful heir of the Spanish Netherlands. When that brother died without an heir, Louis argued that the territory of the Spanish Netherlands should pass then to the Kingdom of France, through Marie-Therese. Louis pressed the war into the Netherlands and into the Franche-Comte (the Free County of Burgundy, that part of the original Duchy of Burgundy not annexed by France). Facing opposition from both the English and the Dutch, Louis negotiated a peace with Spain. The Peace of Aix-la-Chapelle, in the Duchy of Lorraine, was presided over by Pope Clement IX. The Peace that was concluded had France returning the Franche-Comte but with gains of territories in Flanders. Most notably, France gained the city of Valenciennes in the Province of Hainaut. The grandfather of Daniel De Ligne, Jean, is from Valenciennes.

While this particular retelling of history helps to tie in the various elements of the Long Gallery (Louis XIV, the Papacy, and the family of De Ligne), certainly it may not be the only one. For example, Louis XIV often had a troublesome relationship with the Pope in Rome. The Papal symbols might commemorate another interaction between Louis and the Papacy. Perhaps the other recurring symbol, the incensers or thuribles, might be another clue to the religious nature of the story being told. However, as we observed when we began, there may not be a story to tell, but rather an amazingly random conglomeration of symbols. Given the books on history that Loudon comments on, we suspect, however, that Gregory Gregory had specific intentions for many of the symbols seen in the Long Gallery. What those intentions actually were, will, perhaps fortunately or unfortunately, remain a mystery.

Dr Mark Valenzuela, 2008

(Photography: L Dawes)

 

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