Work in Number 12 - Exhibition Gallery
The centrepiece of the restoration of number 12 is the magnificent new exhibition gallery space, designed by Caruso St John and featuring cases specially designed by Goppion SpA. The principle behind these spaces is that they should appear as they did in 1794, and the new cases appear as furniture within the rooms, sympathetic to the design of the historic interiors. Although analysis of the paint layers in the two rooms conducted by Helen Hughes suggests that there were a variety of decorative schemes employed by the Soanes, including a vivid brimstone yellow scheme, very similar to that in the South Drawing Room of Number 13, it was clear that these rooms would have been the distinctive Pompeian red with which they are now coloured. Perhaps the most exciting feature of these spaces is the “sky” ceiling, of which reports survived in the archive and believed to have been created by John Crace who created a similar ceiling at the Royal Pavilion in Brighton. The painstaking restoration of this feature, undertaken by Hare and Humphreys, has returned this striking feature, as well as the unusual Medusa-head boss, with the snakes picked out with ox-blood red and gilding.