In this high baroque style, halted at a point on the frontier of rococo where the extravagant magic of later decades is all implicit, how easily the same aesthetic mood glides from church to palace, from palace to ballroom, from ballroom to monastery and back into church again! Paradox reconciles all contradictions. Clouds drift, cherubim are on the wing, and swarms of putti, baptised in flight from the Greek Anthology, break loose over the tombs. They try on mitres and cardinals’ hats and stumble under the weight of curtains and crosiers while stone Apostles and Doctors of the Church, who are really encyclopaedists in fancy dress, gaze down indulgently. Female saints display the instruments of their martyrdom as light-heartedly as dice-boxes and fans. They are sovereigns’ favourites, landgravines dressed as naiads; and the androgynous saint-impersonating courtiers who ogle the ornate ceilings so meltingly from their plinths might all be acting in a charade. Sacred and profane change clothes and penitents turn into dominoes with the ambiguity of a masqued ball. In the half-century following Melk, rococo flowers into miraculously imaginative and convincing stage scenery. A brilliant array of skills, which touches everything from the pillars of the colonnade to the twirl of a latch, links the most brittle and transient-seeming details to the most magnificent and enduring spoils of the forests and quarries. A versatile genius sends volley after volley of fantastic afterthoughts through the the great Vitruvian and Palladian structures. Concave and convex uncoil and pursue each other across the pilasters in ferny arabesques, liquid notions ripple, waterfalls running silver and blue drop to lintels and hang frozen there in curtains of artificial icicles. Ideas go feathering up in mock fountains and float away through the colonnades in processions of cumulus and cirrus. Light is distributed operatically and skies open in a new change of gravity that has lifted wingless saints and evangelists on journeys of aspiration towards three-dimensional sunbursts and left them levitated there, floating among cornices and spandrels and acanthus leaves and architectural ribands crinkled still with pleats from lying long folded in bandboxes. Scripture pastorals are painted on the walls of the stately interiors. Temples and cylindrical shrines invade the landscape of the Bible. Chinese pagodas, African palms, Nile pyramids and then a Mexican volcano and the conifers and wigwams of Red Indians spring up in Arcady. Walls of mirror reflect these scenes. They bristle with sconces, sinuous gold and silver boundaries of twining branches and the heaped-up symbols of harvest and hunting and warfare mask the joins and the great sheets of glass answer each other across wide floors and reciprocate their reflections to infinity. The faded quicksilver, diffusing a submarine dusk, momentarily touches the invention and the delight of this lookingglass world with a hint of unplanned sadness.

But one is always looking up where those buoyant scenes in grisaille or pastel or polychrome, unfolding elliptically in asymmetric but balancing girdles of snowy cornice, enclose room after room with their resplendent lids. Scriptural throngs tread the air among the banks of vapour and the toppling perspectives of the balustrades. Allegories of the seasons and chinoiserie eclogues are on the move. Aurora chases the Queen of the Night across the sky and Watteau-esque trios, tuning their lutes and their violins, drift by on clouds among ruins and obelisks and loosened sheaves. A sun declining on a lagoon in Venice touches the rims of those clouds and veils the singing faces and the plucked strings in a tenuous melancholy; irony and pity float in the atmosphere and across the spectator’s mind, for there is little time left and a closing note sounds in all these rococo festivals.

Patrick Leigh Fermor - "A Time of Gifts" (1977)

@темы: fermor, patrick leigh, f, english-british, deutsche-oesterreichisch, art, architecture, 20