George’s house was built in Charleston in the early nineties in a style heavily influenced by ancient Byzantine and Roman precedents. Though largely unassuming from outside – it housed an interior pool , vaulted with clerestory windows and embraced by flanking colonnades. The central drawing room was capped by a dome that soared above a rusticated marble pavement. George’s house did not have a kitchen – adding a sense of authenticity. Every piece of furnishing was a half-broken antique. Decrepitude permeated every nook and cranny.
And then George’s house burnt down.
It was an accident of course, but an artistic master stroke. George had always admired Roman ruins – and now he had one. As I was surveying the wreckage it struck me that it felt like I was in a Piranesi etching. And so, in the spirit of the great 18th Century master, I drew. (To see pictures of George’s house before the calamitous fire go to: http://www.newworldbyzantine.com/houses/george.html)
Giovanni Battista Piranesi, Remains of the aqueduct of Nero, 1760-78, etching, Baillieu Library Print Collection, the University of Melbourne