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Clarabella8

Trompe l'oeil organs

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Those of you who have visited the parish church of St Lawrence in Mereworth, Kent, will have seen the trompe l'oeil organ painted on the west wall above the gallery. I assume it is contemporary with the church (1740s). It depicts a three-towered classical case with double-storied flats; the overall effect is a bit like the cases of that design by Harris, but the artist has stretched the case proportions sideways and the number of pipes is in excess of that which a real organ would possess. Perhaps the hope was that a real organ would one day grace the gallery?

 

I recently came across an account in the Ecclesiologist (1844) of a similar painting in St Andrew, Rippingale, Lincolnshire. Does any trace of this remain, and do readers know of any other examples?

 

Clarabella

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Not a trompe l'oeil, but Rushbrooke Church near Bury St. Edmunds has a whole fake organ case in the west gallery. The entire church furnishings were carved, slightly crudely, by the local Squire and Patron, Colonel Rushbrooke in the nineteenth century, and the interior is laid out like a college chapel, with a set of King Henry VIII arms which, if genuine, would be unique.

 

Cockayne Hatley, Hertfordshire, has a fake organ case, possibly Belgian, and St. Conan's Church, on the shores of Loch Awe in Argyllshire, has fake organ cases suspended from the ceiling like lamp-fittings.

 

I think the empty organ case at West Wycombe has now got an organ behind it.

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Collegiale Saint-Remy at Lautrec in the Tarn region of France.

 

There is a painting of an organ on the west wall which was in place before Puget installed a modest 2m organ in 1893. The painted organ is wider than the Puget, so when viewed from the nave it looks as though the organ has pedal towers.

 

The whole interior of the church is covered with Trompe l'oeil which is so realistic that you actually have to go and touch the mouldings to believe that they aren't real. It's all been restored recently and looks magnificent.

 

The organ is very nice, having been restored in 1996.

 

I couldn't get a hype-link to work, but if you google Lautrec orgue the first thing that comes up should be the church website which has a picture of the organ amongst other things.

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There used to be a Trompe l'oeil painting, depicting the missing Nave, around the old organ in the chapel of Merton College Oxford. I can't find a photo online, though there is one in the 1980 Positif Press book on the Organs of Oxford.

 

A little interesting background to this mural can be found in this blog post:

http://www.virginiaknight.org.uk/vhkssinging/2004/11/30/places-where-ive-sung-merton-college-chapel/

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For some months (until the installation of the new Nave Organ and west-facing case), the Jubé gallery at Portsmouth Anglican Cathedral sported a large painting of the proposed case on what looked like an even larger bed-sheet, suspended from the tower arch.

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