The Exhibition Stare

When Somerset House opened to the public in 1780 the main staircase which lead to “the Great Room” quickly became one of London’s famous attractions. This fact is often attributed to its terrifying steepness and narrowness, the climbing of which was viewed as an “aesthetic experience” which people of the time would have referred to as “sublime.” Evidently there was another, and one must assume equally exhilarating, reason for it’s popularity. 

12.03. filed under: art. history. humanity.

Ronald Paulson (The Georgia Review, Spring 1977) discusses this image, which he refers to as “the so-called Exhibition Stare-Case.” He notes that the fall appears to have been caused by the dog. The version that accompanies his article appears to be subtly different, as the position of the dog’s paws and head is somewhat altered.

posted on 12.03 at 09:18 PMChris Kearin

And a little further checking around reveals that there is also a version with no dog at all.

posted on 12.03 at 09:23 PMChris Kearin

Chris, The pen-wash version also substitutes an urn for the nude-bottomed statue. They also note that the version above, though certainly etched by Rowlandson, was most likely not colored by him… whatever that all means.

posted on 12.04 at 09:10 AMjmorrison

Now I would like to see a photo of the starecase.

posted on 12.14 at 11:53 PM.

and I’d like to know why none of the ladies are wearing drawers

posted on 12.28 at 06:34 AMangela

Oh Good Lord! the staircase really is treacherous!

posted on 12.28 at 06:41 AMangela

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