Stairwell (Kenwood House), London
Kenwood House Stairwell

This image is taken mid-flight between ground and first floor at Kenwood Hall, London, an unlikely yet interesting vantage point.

The field of view is flattened by the strong horizontal and vertical lines of the handrail and pendant ropes, enhanced by the perceived alignment ropes with the decorative moulding, and of the central balustrade motif with the floor and dado rail of the landing.

The flatness of the image is emphasised by the horizontal mouldings sitting just above eye level and therefore almost horizontal. The frieze around the lower well acts to isolate it as a planar void with a specific colour cast, the top half of the image lacks perspectival cues from the mouldings and the eye is drawn to the red wall plane of the room beyond.

In the far room a portrait painting of Lady Isabel Rich by William Larkin is visible and from this point can be seen to echo the architectural language of the stairwell.

Isabel’s body is divided by a sash which plunges diagonally down leftwards like the closest section of handrail. Both elements divide a sparse upper section (Isabel’s chest framed like the empty wall areas) and a decorative lower section. She also stands on a rug which is painted from an artificially high point of view rendering it as a flat (tilted-up) plane of colours in the red spectrum.