The Octagon – September, 2020

Greetings all,

It is hard to believe that summer is all but over and we are heading into fall….with a little trepidation however as to what the following months will look like. The good news is that we at Fintry have survived what we thought was going to be a catastrophic summer.  With not having Fairs and with limits (COVID protocols) on the numbers of visitors we could have in the Manor House, we were anticipating a disastrous year. However, thanks to the hard work of everyone (staff and volunteers) pulling together we have had quite a remarkable summer with small tours (up to six people) of the Manor House every 20 minutes as well as tours of the Octagonal Barn. We will be continuing with Manor House tours Saturdays and Sundays (from 1 – 4 pm) until the end of September, so there is still time to come visit us!

A large part of our success this summer was the addition of our two interns Rachael Moores and Morgan Marshall. Thanks to a grant through Canada Summer Jobs we were able to employ these two wonderful students and they were instrumental in our being open for more hours. Sadly, they will both be leaving us this week and going home to continue with their studies and we wish them every success in their future endeavours.

Following is some info courtesy of our Curator Dan Bruce, on an interesting item in our collection:

“One of the less noticeable items that has returned to Fintry thanks to Rod and Karen Stuart is a small photographic reproduction of J.M.W. Turner’s masterpiece, commonly known as ‘The Fighting Temeraire’. The photo is in sepia tone, and is in the original oak frame, with the maker’s label on the back, “W. A. Mansell & Co.  Art Publishers, Photographers, and Frame Makers, 271 and 273 Oxford Street”. 

For those who wanted art without the expense of original works, engravings became available and later, photographic reproductions such as this were easy to come by.   In the case of this picture, the original was never available at any price.  Turner refused to sell it, but included it in his bequest to the nation. It can now be seen in the National Gallery, in London.   A very much reduced sepia photo however does scant justice to the magnificent original, recently acclaimed as Britain’s most popular painting, and featured on the new twenty-pound banknote.     A multitude of studies have been made of it, and various aspects of its symbolism pointed out. The famous old warship is being towed by a dirty looking steam tug to the breakers yard for demolition.  The event caused widespread dismay at the loss of a ship that suddenly became symbolic of a glorious naval tradition, now steam was taking over from sail. Turner makes the message clear when seen in colour, the Temeraire gleams, almost lit from within, while the tug is dark, sooty and belches smoke.

Apparently, the crew of the ship gave her a nickname, a common naval practice. They called her the ‘Saucy’, almost a translation of ‘temeraire’    It may not be coincidence that Gilbert and Sullivan opened ” H.M.S. Pinafore” with the chorus….  

                            “We sail the ocean blue

                             And our saucy ship’s a beauty,

                             We’re sober men and true,

                             And attentive to our duty. . .”

There once was an original John Hoppner painting at Fintry, (now being taken care of by the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York).  An original Turner, even if available, might have stretched the Laird’s pocket book too much.    According to Boris Johnson, the last major work by Turner went for twenty-nine million pounds at auction.”

In closing I would just like to thank all those who attended the Friends of Fintry Annual General Meeting in mid-August and also a big thank you to the four new board members who have joined us. We are delighted to have you onboard as we move this Fintry ship forward!

Stay healthy everyone,

Kathy Drew

Friends of Fintry Provincial Park.

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