National Geographic : 1936 Jul
HOW WARWICK WAS PHOTOGRAPHED IN COLOR The distance of my camera was fixed and it seemed as if, in every spot where I had to set my tripod, there was a priceless mosaic table, brought from far-away Italy in the days of crude transport and since preserved through blood and fire for centuries. I felt like some rank intruder from a world that is yet to be amid the proud treasures of the past. Some of Warwick's finest paintings were away on loan during my visit, but there were enough left to have kept me busy for weeks. The picture of the two sons of George Villiers, Duke of Buckingham, appealed to me because it was from Warwick that scheming Richard III wrote to the Gover nor of the Tower of London ordering the death of his two small nephews, sons of Edward IV. These boys in their innocence and splendor of garb made me think of the "little princes of the Tower," and, besides, this painting by Van Dyck had a challeng ing range of colors (Plate V). In the boudoir at the far end of the state apartments I selected two paintings of Henry VIII-Van Dyck's, showing him as a half-timid child, and Holbein's, which pic tures bluff King Hal as every inch a king, albeit a king with whom the gentle George V, who called himself "a very ordinary fel low," would have had little in common (Color Plates IV and V). While my camera was at work making the long exposures, I tiptoed back and forth, conferring with the ever-helpful electrician as to where we could plug in the lights for the next picture, or trying to restore some order to the chaos our work had caused. The painting of Ignatius of Loyola is out standing, even in so rich a collection as that at Warwick. Rubens here combines the rich trappings of ecclesiastical dignity with the spirituality of the man. The founder of the Order of Jesuits stands before us in a portrait notable for its force and rich coloring (Plate IV). PHOTOGRAPHERS TURN ACROBATS After a late snack with the seventh Earl of Warwick, we tackled the painting which taxed our knowledge and equipment most the huge equestrian portrait of Charles I (Plate VIII). Providing the canvas for pic tures of such heroic size must have influ enced the textile statistics of Van Dyck's day. To get the camera high enough, we had to construct on the state dining table a pyramid of stools, sawhorses, and tripods worthy of a circus balancing act. Then, as we focused the camera, our heads brushed the highly destructible chandelier-hun dreds of pounds of it. "Heavy, heavy hangs over thy head," was its recurrent warning. Nor, try as we would, could we get our floodlights in such a position that a glare in some part of the painting would not kill the color. If you look closely at the sides of that great painting you will see how the electric light generated from Warwick's old grain mill, still turned by the quiet Avon, has put a sheen over the coloring. At eleven o'clock the shutter closed on the last exposure, and we hurriedly collected our equipment from its hiding places under furniture gathered from half of Europe or from the feet of lordly forms created by Flemish or English artists. Down corridors bristling with armament we carried our bulky reflectors and cameras. While a knight on horseback looked on dispassionately, my companion wondered when his taxi would arrive. We had ordered the car for 11:15. And as we slammed the automobile door after our anachronistic labors, it was just that. Even the portcullis might have been worked by a time clock, for, as we left the hospita ble castle behind, the grating dropped, as if closing the adventure forever. I had still to make color views of War wick's exterior, and of the gardens where peacocks strut (Plate III). But that, in the sunshine, would be comparatively easy. That night, after seeing my friend off on the train, I returned to my hotel, empty of stomach and light of heart. It was mid night and the ten bells of Warwick's St. Mary's softly began a new tune. Just be fore we had taken the castle by storm, the chimes had been playing "Home, Sweet Home." Now they started a new day with "Jenny Lind." When next St. Mary's bells played "Home, Sweet Home," I was there. For better or for worse I had accepted War wick's challenge and my plates came home in my own hands, keeping their secret of success or failure till the National Geo graphic Society laboratories were reached. Here they are, the result of a noble hos pitality which still warms my heart.