The School of Lawgivers by George Frederic Watts RA (1817-1904). !853-59, 45' long and 40' high in the middle (Lambourne 49; dated from 1852 in Willsdon 258, and Davies 154). Huge semicircular fresco on the wall of New Hall, Lincoln's Inn, London WC2A 3TL. It features the "great lawmakers of history from Moses and Muhammad to Edward I and Charlemagne" (Davies 154), with Moses as the central figure just below the allegorical sculptures of Justice, Truth (at the apex) and Mercy. For a sense of what the fresco looks like in situ, in the over 60' high hall, see the book cover of Philip Davies's London: Hidden Interiors. Clare Willsdon finds that it has spiritual illumination as its basic theme, and that it was inspired in various ways by Titian, Raphael and Delaroche — for example, by Raphael's grouping of philosophers in his School at Athens (258-60). Watts himself thought it "perhaps the best thing I have done or am likely to do," and intended it to "pervade, so to speak, the building like a strain of Handel's music, becoming one with the architecture" (qtd, in Willsdon 261).

Photograph, text and formatting by Jacqueline Banerjee, 2012. [You may use this image without prior permission for any scholarly or educational purpose as long as you (1) credit the photographer and (2) link your document to this URL or cite it in a print one.]

References

Davies, Philip. London: Hidden Interiors. London: Atlantic Publishing, 2012. Print.

Lambourne, Lionel. Victorian Painting. New York & London: Phaidon (paperback), 2003. Print.

Willsdon, Clare A. P. Mural Painting in Britain 1840-1940: Image and Meaning. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2000. Print.


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Last modified 12 December 2012