Monday, August 24, 2009

Too fine for the floor

This morning, laying on our library floor, my feet on the sofa and reading Geoffrey Beard's Stucco and Decorative Plasterwork in Europe I turned a page to a photo of the early 16th century loggia of the Villa Madama, Rome and which was based on Nero's Domus Aurea that had been quite recently discovered. The story of the disappearance of the Golden House of Nero and its rediscovery is worth a blog, but not today as I had planned.

The day intervened and here I am late on Sunday evening just a-thinkin' - one of those life, love and happiness moments that come upon one in the watches of the night when one's other and better half is safely tucked up, both he and the dishwasher gurgling away. Sometimes you just have to look backwards to see where you have been and why. A few moments of introspection are a good thing.

Today, neither palaces nor lost gardens, just a moment captured by a photographer over 50 years ago and, because of the memories it conjured in me, in its own way, a Domus Aurea.

"Mrs. Tye's grate is the form of kitchen range and the freshly laundered frill encourages draught. Fastened to the main ceiling beam is a rack for hams. The table is covered with a carpet thought to be too fine for the floor. Mrs. Tye has lived here since she was married some sixty years ago and pays a weekly rent of 4s."

English Cottages and Farmhouses, Olive Cook, Thames & Hudson 1954. Photo by Edwin Smith.


  1. Thanks for the post. I have always thought that an element of introspection is a worthwhile pursuit, how much better the world might be if more of us got into the habit.

    I am really looking forward to the Nero's Golden House post!

  2. There ain't much of it left but its effect on decoration is still to be seen. I think the 1980s were the last gasps of the Domus Aurea's influence - amazing how fads can ruin what is essentially good.