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Chiswick House, Red Velvet Room ceiling J970259 Featured Rainbows Print

Chiswick House, Red Velvet Room ceiling J970259

CHISWICK HOUSE, London. Interior. View of the ceiling in the Red Velvet Room.
The ceiling is inset with painted panels attributed to William Kent and has usually been interpreted as an allegory of the Arts. The panels around the edge, for example, incorporate musical instruments, portrait roundels of gods and goddesses (Jupiter, Venus, Saturn, Mars, Diana and Apollo) and their appropriate Zodiac signs. In the central panel the messenger god Mercury hovers above a stone arch, below which is a group of figures with further emblems of the visual arts: Architecture is represented by a bare-chested woman with a set square and a cherub with a plan of a Roman temple, Sculpture by a fallen bust of Inigo Jones, and Painting by a woman unveiling a self-portrait of Kent.
The radical alternative interpretation of this symbolism is that it alludes to the ritual of the Royal Arch masonic lodge. Red is the Royal Arch colour, so the red velvet on the walls is symbolic, as is the red drape which is being removed to reveal Kent's portrait in the ceiling. The traditional implements of the architect and sculptor, depicted in the ceiling, are likewise masonic emblems, while the combination of an arch below a rainbow which occurs in the ceiling painting was apparently a common subject of early Royal Arch lodge banners. The suggestion, therefore, is that this room could have been designed by Burlington and Kent - both of whom were certainly freemasons - to function as a masonic meeting place

© Jeremy Young

Illustration of Earthrise seen from Lunar orbit Featured Rainbows Print

Illustration of Earthrise seen from Lunar orbit

Illustration depicting the Earth rising above the Moon's horizon as seen from an orbiting spacecraft. The area of the Moon's surface seen here appears in the upper left quadrant when viewed from Earth. The lower right of the frame is dominated by the Mare Imbrium (Sea of Rains), the bow-shaped bright feature just below centre is the Jura Mountain range which rings the Sinus Iridium (Bay of Rainbows). Next to the limb at top left is the large Pythagoras Crater, with the smaller Babbage-A Crater just below it. The lower left of the frame is part of the Oceanus Procellarum (Ocean of Storms)

© Chris Butler/Science Photo Library

Rainbow over the dishes of the VLA radio telescope Featured Rainbows Print

Rainbow over the dishes of the VLA radio telescope

Double rainbow over dishes of the Very Large Array(VLA) radio telescope at Socorro, New Mexico. TheVLA is the world's largest radio telescope array, consisting of 27 dish aerials each 25 metres indiameter which can move to various positions alongthe arms of a Y-shaped railway network. The wholearray effectively forms a giant radio dish 27 kmin diameter. At its shortest observing wavelengthof 1.3 cm, it can resolve details 0.13 arcsecondsin scale - 10 times better than any Earth-basedoptical telescope

© Doug Johnson/Science Photo Library